By Rachel Chalmers
San Mateo, California-based Infospace Inc, which builds enterprise information portals (EIPs) for customers from Charles Schwab to the IRS, has changed its name and issued a heads-up of important announcements to come. The change of name from Infospace to Viador Inc should help the company avoid confusion with the other Infospace, a Redmond, Washington-based internet telephone directory services company. Besides, VP of US marketing Steven Dille explains, executives wanted a name that would represent the value the company has for its customers. Viador is supposed to evoke gaining access via a door.
The company has just raised $8.5m in a second round of funding led by Information Technology Ventures. The money is earmarked for a sales and marketing blitz ahead of an anticipated but as- yet undated IPO. Now moving into its fourth year of business, Viador began life building a Java application server to enable companies to distribute information and reports and provide access to multidimensional databases. Rivals like Netscape’s acquisition Kiva are focused on transactions, Dille explains, where Viador concentrates on optimizing data access.
As the internet developed, so did the company. The whole concept of the portal makes getting access easier than ever before, Dille says. The application server, Viador Information Center, now forms the core of the system, with Viador Sentinel handling extranet security and Viador Sage providing a MyYahoo lookalike portal front-end. The software integrates information from a wide range of legacy and enterprise information systems, including SAP, Peoplesoft and relational databases. Still to come is Lotus Notes and other document management systems. With Viador, users can pass documents around, query databases in real time, drill down into the data and assemble charts and reports online.
Viador starts at $20,000 for the Information Center alone, with a per-user fee from $70. The exception is the supply-chain tool Sentinel, for which buyers pay a single charge in return for unlimited use. The people who get the benefit tend to be large organizations, Dille says. That’s reflected in the existing customer list, which includes FedEx, Sun Microsystems, Xerox, IBM, PG&E, Sprint, JC Penney and AT&T. All are using Viador in various ways as a kind of intranet glue. I was asking myself, What is our real value? says Dille, and I realized, it is as the great integrator.
When Merrill Lynch’s Chris Shilakes and Julie Tylman released a report on Enterprise Information Portals in November 1998, Viador latched on to the term as an excellent definition of what it had been trying to build all along. Merrill Lynch reckons EIPs will be worth $14.8bn by 2002. Dille believes his company’s segment will account for several billion of that, and says: I’d like to get market share of half of that by 2002. And we are ideally poised to take this.