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Iona snaps up Watershed for $13.2 million

The enterprise portal company strengthens its family of e-commerce software by acquiring a start-up that helps businesses create Web sites.

Iona Technologies strengthened its family of e-commerce software today by acquiring a start-up specializing in programs that help businesses create Web sites.

The company plans to incorporate Watershed's technology into its forthcoming Web portal software, which will allow companies to build sites that let people access email, corporate resources, Web information and commerce offerings.

Waltham, Mass.-based Watershed offers a mix of software products that are based on the Java programming language and Extensible Markup Language(XML), a Web standard for exchanging data.

Watershed's technology includes pre-built Java software code that software developers can use to build their e-commerce Web sites, said Ed Gaudet, Iona's vice president of worldwide marketing. The prewritten code includes online shopping carts, and software that manages orders, payments and store inventory.

Iona competes against Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, the Sun-Netscape Alliance and others in the crowded, but lucrative e-commerce software market. Analysts expect sales of e-commerce and related software to take off in the next few years as businesses move their existing computing systems to the Web.

The XML technology will allow businesses to tie their computing systems together with their customers, partners and suppliers. Iona plans to release its Web portal software as early as the second quarter of 2000.