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Internet firm buys Dante Group

Purchased software company has Boulder roots

by Erika Stutzman

The Boulder Daily CameraNovember 13, 2003

Fairfax, Va.-based webMethods Inc., a software and services firm, announced Monday that it bought Dante Group, which was founded in Boulder, and will buy two other technology firms for a total of about $32 million in cash.

Dante Group, which makes business monitoring software, was founded in Boulder and funded by local investment firms Vista Ventures, Sequel Partners and Mobius Venture Capital. Local customers include Corporate Express, Level 3 Communications and Raindance Communications.

Dante is one of three companies software maker webMethods is taking on. It also bought an Internet portal named DataChannel, which it renamed webMethods Portal.

Also on Monday, webMethods announced that it agreed to buy Mind Electric of Dallas, which makes Glue software. Glue is used to create and deploy Web applications.
WebMethods did not disclose the financial details of each of the transactions, but a Dante board member -- one of the leading investors in the firm -- said it was enough to be "a great return for investors."

Kirk Holland of Vista, which along with Mobius and Sequel infused a $4 million first round into Dante in April, said the Dante sale was good for the company and its investors.

The 15 or so workers with Dante, which recently relocated to Denver, were included in the transaction and will work for webMethods. The company employs nearly 900 people worldwide.

Holland said webMethods wanted to buy the firm for the same reason Vista wanted to lead the first investment round: "We believe that their underlying product is unique in the marketplace ...and leaps and bounds above the competitors."

Dante's product, now called webMethods Optimize, collects and monitors data about business activity for industries including telecommunications, retail and travel.

"With this acquisition, webMethods further fulfills its promise of delivering market-changing solutions that allow companies to run, measure and optimize their business," Phillip Merrick, chairman and chief executive of webMethods, said in a prepared statement.

A successful exit isn't that common in the down economy, but Holland thinks things are looking up.

"We've had a really active year. We started with one company in our portfolio, LeftHand Networks, and will end the year with six or seven companies," he said. Vista is a 3-year-old, $65 million investment firm.

WebMethods (Nasdaq: WEBM) closed up 12 cents to $8.99.
Contact Erika Stutzman at stutzmane@dailycamera.com or (303) 473-1354.
Copyright 2003, The Daily Camera. All Rights Reserved.

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