Lotus has bought a controlling stake in US-based Web tools company, NetObjects, in a bid to attract more Web developers to its Domino platform.
Lotus acquired a 60% stake in the privately-held company for an undisclosed sum last week. The deal also gives Lotus a majority of seats on NetObjects' board.
NetObjects' founder and CEO Samir Arora will retain his post, and Lotus executive vice president Michael Zisman will join the company's board of directors.
The company's 150 employees will remain and it will operate as an independent company, although Lotus said it plans to float the company at some point in the future.
NetObjects makes site-based Web design software. Its flagship product, Fusion, is said to be the only site-oriented product available on both the Windows and Mac platforms.
Since its launch last September, the product has been downloaded by more than 150,000 developers. In a statement, Lotus said: "Notes and Domino complement Fusion by extending designers' capabilities to the development and deployment of collaborative Web applications."
Neil Ward-Dutton, an analyst at researcher Ovum, said the deal was a shrewd move by Lotus. "It's a tacit acknowledgement that Lotus did not want to go to the hassle of developing its own robust Web site environment, which was something the company was lacking," he added.
Even though Lotus will effectively run the company, NetObjects will still maintain its close links with Lotus' rival Netscape. Lotus President Jeff Papows said: "They (NetObjects) do a lot of stuff with Netscape, and we won't inhibit that because they have to do that to be successful, in order to get through their own Initial public offering."
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