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Verity's buy is broadcast news

Search software tools developer Verity merges with push technology maker Cognisoft and dives into information applications.

By acquiring Cognisoft today, search engine company Verity (VRTY) dives headlong into the crowded pool of companies offering Internet "push" technology.

While other companies such as PointCast and BackWeb blast dozens of information "channels" to users' desktops, Verity hopes that its search software, combined with Cognisoft's server, will make it easier to sift through Internet broadcasts.

Verity acquired Cognisoft for $10 million today and plans to form an information applications business unit that will meld its Search '97 platform with Cognisoft's IntelliServ application software. IntelliServ is designed to allow corporations to automatically broadcast information to standard Web browsers instead of requiring users to surf out to Web sites.

According to Philipe Courtot, chairman and CEO of Verity, the combination of the IntelliServ software and Verity's search engine will allow corporations to organize information broadcasts so that users can find the information they need. For example, Courtot said, Search 97 will allow companies to cluster similar types of information from different information feeds. The technology will also allow users to automatically summarize the data in information broadcasts and to automatically categorize it based on keywords and concepts.

"The problem with pushing all of these channels into the enterprise is that you need to be able to customize them very granularly," Courtot said.

Courtot also said that Verity does not intend to compete directly with the more established players in the push market such as PointCast and DataChannel, but hopes to sell them its software solution.

Verity expects the deal to close by the end of this week and will take a $10 million charge against earnings during the third quarter, which ends February 28. The charge covers costs associated with the merger and Cognisoft's in-progress research and development.

David Weld, formerly Cognisoft's chief executive, will serve as president of Verity's new applications business unit.

"Verity has been successful in creating the search platform and with the acquisition of Cognisoft, it will move into the applications base," said Tony Liano, formerly Cognisoft's vice president of sales and marketing. Liano will now play a similar role in the applications business unit.