Yahoo buys Viaweb for $49 million

The Net portal firm buys Viaweb, a maker of tools for building and operating e-commerce sites, for $49 million.

Yahoo is doing some e-purchasing to move deeper into the e-commerce industry.

The Net portal firm today plopped down $49 million for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Viaweb, a maker of tools for building and operating Internet commerce Web sites.

Yahoo executives said the acquisition is meant to bolster the company's push into the e-commerce services industry. The Santa Clara, California-based firm wants to be a services company building, promoting, and operating online storefronts for small and medium-sized businesses.

Internet-based selling is expected to quadruple in the next few years from $2.4 billion last year to $12.1 billion by 2000, according to Forrester Research.

These figures have lured industry giants Netscape Communications and Microsoft as well as SAP and Intel--with their joint venture Pandesic--to the e-commerce business.

Yahoo already offers promotional and marketing services to businesses. With the Viaweb purchase, it hopes to up its offering to include set-up and design services, hosting, and promotional services through Yahoo Store.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in June pending stockholder and regulatory approval. Yahoo executives said the purchase will result in a $45 million one-time hit in its second quarter.