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Net learning resource expands

7th Street.com boosts its product and services line with the acquisition of Panmedia and a licensing agreement with IBM.

Online distance learning and training company 7th Street.com is boosting its product and services line with the acquisition of Panmedia, a similar Internet learning company, and a licensing agreement with IBM.

IBM has agreed to license 7th Street.com's streaming technology to deliver courses over the Internet, the online learning software company said today.

The deal falls on the heels of the White Plains, New York, company's completed acquisition of Panmedia, the parent company of Learn2.com, an online consumer learning community. Under the terms of the agreement, 7th Street issued approximately 1,544,000 shares. No further details were given.

The consolidation of Learn2.com with 7th Street's other online resources will manifest itself in the planned merger of the Learn2.com site with 7th Street's Tutorials.com under the Learn2.com name. The combined site is set to launch in June, according to the company.

"We stand behind our commitment to expand the site's presence on the Internet, and to provide a more comprehensive learning experience to community visitors and members," Stephen Gott, chief executive of 7th Street, said in a statement.

Learn2.com offers step-by-step instructions on a wide variety of activities, skills, and tasks.

"It's the one-stop spot for learning anything from changing a pilot light or a diaper," said Jason Roberts, former chief executive of Learn2.com and executive vice president of the consumer division at 7th Street.

Learn2.com also offers a varied set of online discussion forums where consumers can find and share information and hundreds of tips.

Approximately 200 tutorials and 1,000 "learnlets"--abbreviated tutorials--are available online, with another 200 in the development process, the company said.

Before the acquisition, 7th Street was looking to boost its consumer-side Net learning services, something Learn2.com prides itself on, and Learn2.com was looking to strengthen its multimedia consumer training offerings, which is the bulk of what 7th Street does.

"We both found what we needed in each other," Roberts said.

Based on the combination of two Internet streaming technologies, which allow interactive multimedia and animation to be accessed in real time over the Web, 7th Street provides a suite of products.

While Tutorials.com is a 7th Street Web site providing multimedia consumer training courses and tutorials, the company provides businesses with access to corporate training courses and tutorials through Learning University, which includes additional tools such as reporting and administration.

In the IBM deal announced today, Big Blue will adopt 7th Street.com's streaming technology, StreamMaker, as a technology for Internet and intranet delivery of courseware developed for its Learning Services clients. Additionally, as a part of this agreement, IBM will utilize StreamMaker for the delivery of specialized custom courseware for its worldwide customers.

"We see an impact to our earnings in the third and fourth quarters and then expect it to go like gangbusters in the year 2000," Gott said, according to Reuters. "I think these agreements are very significant as it puts us on the map as a key provider of this technology, at least in the learning space."

IBM Learning Services has 3,400 professionals in 55 countries and is part of IBM Global Services.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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