Netscape bought two US start-up companies last week in an effort to improve its Web technology.
The firms - DigitalStyle and Portola Communications - are both privately owned. Together, the deals are worth over $56 million (#35 million).
DigitalStyle and Portola join four previous Netscape acquisitions, including its biggest, Collabra, which it bought in late 1995 for $108 million.
Netscape, set up in 1994, has been one of the fastest growing companies in the IT sector.
DigitalStyle, based in San Diego, makes Web graphics and design tools.
Its main product is WebSuite, selling for $99 (u62), which works with Microsoft FrontPage or Netscape Navigator and claims to help users "add professional looking style and appearance to Web sites". Portola, another small Californian firm, has yet to release any products and has no web presence. However, Netscape says the company is "known for its expertise in high-performance messaging systems".
"These acquisitions will bring great new talent on board at Netscape and help accelerate our efforts to meet the needs of corporate customers," announced Mike Homer, Netscape's senior vice president of marketing. "In 1997 the focus at Netscape is on the messaging and groupware markets, and there is remarkable synergy between the work of these companies and our goals," he added.
John Myers, technologist at Portola, will join Netscape's research team.
Myers is chiefly known for his pioneering work on the IMAP4 Email protocol.
Most of the employees at the two smaller firms, believed to number about 50 in total, are expected to remain at Netscape.
The acquisitions are due to be formally completed by the third quarter of this year.
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