Technology

FreeMarkets Blends an ASP with B2B

Computer Associates steers with Fiat, IBM banks with no strings attached, and more.
CFO.com StaffFebruary 16, 2001

Do it Yourself B2B

B2B exchange provider, FreeMarkets Inc. is letting customers build their own exchanges. On Thursday, the company unveiled QuickSource, a service that lets businesses build and operate E-marketplaces.

According to Cnet News, the service is a change of pace for Pittsburgh- based FreeMarkets, which usually functions as a third party. Instead, the firm is acting as an application service provider (ASP), renting software to customers on a subscription basis.

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FreeMarkets has made other moves to broaden its line of products. Last week, it acquired collaborative E-commerce software developer Adexa for approximately $340 million.

Under the ASP model, an E-marketplace provider need not install and maintain the software that runs its exchange. Instead, it can farm out the management of the software and focus on adding services.

A Banking We Will Go

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson and IBM said on Thursday they were teaming up to supply mobile Internet services to financial firms. Reuters said the two companies hope to take at least 10 percent of a market estimated to be grow to $5 billion to $6 billion in two years.

The alliance will initially target banks that are customers of both firms, such as Deutsche Bank. Currently, banking via mobile devices is largely an information-only service. The online banking services that involve transactions are mostly delivered via desktops and laptops.

The two companies hope to deliver wireless transaction services — including bill payment, securities trading, and portfolio management — that banks can sell to their retail and business customers.

Neither company specified how much they will invest in the joint venture, Reuters said.

When I Paint My Masterpiece

Fiat GesCo, a subsidiary of the Italian conglomerate, Fiat Group, will repackage the Masterpiece/Net series of software from Computer Associates’ InterBiz subsidiary, and market the software to its clients as a service. The deal expands an existing relationship between the two companies.

Masterpiece/Net is a Web-enabled line of software, and Fiat GesCo, which helps corporate users in Italy and other overseas markets install management information systems and finance and administration systems, has already been running it at one client’s site.

In a separate development, interBiz’s ACCPAC International unit announced earlier this week that it will open a Middle East headquarters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Also, interBiz’s corporate parent, Computer Associates, said its data protection software systems, including ARCserve 2000 Advanced Edition and ARCserveIT for NetWare, now support Compaq Computer’s StorageWorks software for backing up network storage systems.

Sell, Sell, Sell

Market’s down? Economy’s weak? Need some cash? Quick! Dump that stock! That’s what Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Oracle chairman Larry Ellison, and Disney CEO Michael Eisner have all done, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings released on Thursday.

Allen plans to sell a $64.3 million portion of the Microsoft founders’ stock he acquired in June 1981. Already this year, Allen sold another 4.5 million shares for $280.5 million. That’s gonna buy an awful lot of Fender Stratocasters for Allen’s Jimi Hendrix museum.

Not to be outdone, Larry Ellison sold $894.8 million in Oracle stock, according to a filing he made with the SEC. It was the first such sale by Ellison since 1996.

But if you’re going by the standards Allen and Ellison set, then Disney’s Eisner looks like a piker. He sold 150,000 shares in Disney Internet Group that were valued at $918,000. Since Disney is shutting down the Internet unit, maybe that was the best he could do. Then again, maybe he’s got a more modest lifestyle than Allen or Ellison.

Bits and Bytes

  • American Express Travel Related Services will buy equipment financing company SierraCities.com for $107.5 million. The company has $1.5 billion in receivables, and the deal is expected to close by the end of March. American Express’ small business services unit provides unsecured lines of credit, term loans, and equipment financing, and the acquisition will expand its equipment financing portfolio. SierraCities.com uses the Web to automate financial services for businesses.
  • Ross Systems said the sale of the rights to its human resources and payroll systems to Now Solutions should close by Feb. 23.
  • Intel Corp. will spend $300 million on advertising for its Pentium 4 processor, starting Feb. 19. Looks like they missed the Super Bowl by three weeks. Then again, so did the Giants.
  • Don’t use counterfeit Bills. Microsoft Corp. said it received more than $4.2 million in settling two software-counterfeiting cases. Some $2.8 million is coming from 10 Ohio resellers who allegedly distributed counterfeit copies of the company’s products. Another $1.4 million is coming from nine resellers in Texas who allegedly did the same.