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Open Market acquires Future Tense

The maker of e-commerce software announces it will pay $125 million in stock for Future Tense, which makes software for electronic publishing.

E-commerce software firm Open Market will acquire electronic-publishing software maker Future Tense in a $125 million all-stock deal, the companies announced after the stock market's close today.

The acquisition will combine Open Market's e-commerce management software with privately held Future Tense's content management product, designed to make it easier to create advanced e-business Web sites. Open Market will issue 8.34 million new shares for all of Future Tense's stock in a pooling-of-interests deal expected to close in October or November, the two companies said.

Both firms are located in the Boston area.

Future Tense's technology, called Internet Publishing System (IPS), enables online publishers to manage large Internet or intranet sites while personalizing content for individual visitors. Its customers include Netscape (whose application server is used in IPS), Fidelity Investments, Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive, and the New York Times.

The move demonstrates Open Market's continued effort to gain a strategic edge in the market for business-to-business transactions.

Last month Open Market essentially undid its February 1977 acquisition of another publishing software firm, Folio. In exchange for at least $14 million in royalties, Open Market gave a new company led by Folio co-founder Brad Pelo exclusive rights to market the Folio publishing software for three years.

"The Folio and Future Tense products and markets are radically different," said Jay Fiore, Open Market's director of corporate marketing.

"Folio's vision was around enabling large commercial publishers to sell content online," Fiore said. "We've discovered that there's a much larger component of content management, delivering personalized content that Folio products don't address but Future Tense does well."

Future Tense has 90 employees and booked $2 million in revenue in its latest quarter. No layoffs are anticipated. When the deal closes, Gary Eichhorn will remain Open Market chief executive; Ron Matros, the Future Tense CEO, will become Open Market's president and BC Krishna, co-founder and chief technology officer of FutureTense, will become Open Market's CTO.

The companies say the two product lines can be integrated quickly, and have posted a working demo on Open Market's Web site. But new versions of both lines for tighter integration won't be released for six months to a year.

Future Tense's chief competitor is Vignette. CNET: The Computer Network, the publisher of, is a minority shareholder in Vignette.