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June 30, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:48pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Java development tool company Asymetrix Corp is to acquire fellow tools company and learning software company Aimtech Corp, but Java development doesn’t look to be the focus of Asymetrix for much longer. The Seattle, Washington company that was founded by Paul Allen has been best known for its SuperCede for Java development tool that it claimed has a Java virtual machine that runs 10 times faster than Just-In-Time compilers and 50 times faster than interpreted code. But now the company has discovered another market: online learning tools. Nashua, New Hampshire- based Aimtech also has a Java development tool, called Jamba. But that is not the reason Asymetrix wants the company. It is buying it primarily for its CBT Express training suite, and IconAuthor multimedia authoring tool. Asymetrix produces the ToolBook II line of online learning software. IconAuthor will be integrated with the Librarian element of ToolBook II. Asymetrix wasn’t revealing any terms of the deal, or how big Aimtech is, but it’s thought to have revenues in the tens of millions. CEO Jim Billmaier wouldn’t be drawn on plans for SuperCede but advised to watch this space and expect an announcement within two weeks. He added that the company is going to be clearly focussed on online learning. Of Aimtech’s Jamba, Billmaier said it would be a useful tool for generating future online learning tools, but didn’t predict a life of its own in the future. Aimtech has a lot of licensees for Jamba, who use it alongside their HTML authoring tools. If offloading SuperCede is what eventually happens, the move raises a lot of questions, the most obvious one being why is a company like, Asymetrix, which was one of the most prominent Java development tools companies, exiting the Java tools business before it has really got off the ground. Has it spotted something the rest of the industry has missed – like a lack of market opportunity, or poor Java performance? Or is this online learning market just such a money-making opportunity that supercedes everything else, no pun intended.

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