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Jelsoft (vBulletin) Acquired by Internet Brands
What will be the fall out?

 12:17 pm on Jul 5, 2007 (gmt 0)


Dear vBulletin customers,

We are pleased to announce that Jelsoft Enterprises Limited has been acquired by Internet Brands, Inc., a leading provider of automotive, travel and home-related sites and communities.

As part of a larger organisation, with more than 500 employees, Jelsoft has access to additional resources, support and business expertise which will ensure that we can continue to grow and flourish. Products will continue to be actively developed and fully supported, and as time goes on you will begin to see noticeable changes and improvements that are made possible by being part of a larger organisation.

Is there destined to be fall-out when a company that builds its business around online communities acquires the company that was well respected for building software that allows any company to build an online community?

My guess, at the very least, is that [i]"all links (will) lead to Internet Brands" website(s).



 1:29 pm on Jul 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

My guess would be a split development model.

vBulletin would continue to develop and market its BBS software to the public, and use that revenue source as a means of financing development of one, or several, other pieces... namely:

Higher end corporate message boards - this is still a pretty under-served market. Upscale BBSes are rare, and not all that upscale compared to what's available to the average consumer.

Branded, highly customized boards - This would fit well with Internet Brands business model. Having a BBS developper in house able to deploy refined boards tailored to specific sites would be an advantage for the company.

OR... What else? I dunno. The whole BBS software market really needs a shake-up. Nothing super innovative has happened in years. With Jelsoft under a larger coorporate umbrella, it very well might gain the breathing room it needs to experiment a bit.

Also, if I remember right, Jelsoft has some other software under their brand that might prove useful to Internet Brands, especially if they can gain full access to source and be able to customize it and modify it to need.


 2:11 pm on Jul 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I guess, that PR distribution is part of it too. Soooooooooo many sites link to them and this way is legitimate. With that many sites, even a few slots up in the serps will make it worthwhile. Of course, they are also profitable.

anyone cares to guess the price?


 2:31 pm on Jul 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is huge news. One key aspect is that it gives Internet Brands instant access (as the software supplier) to thousands of communities.

My prediction: a "vBulletin advertising program" to help community operators monetize their websites with Internet Brands as the ad network manager.

Internet Brands has been acquiring communities directly - this could be a way to extend their content reach without actually owning the sites (much as Google has done with AdSense).

I do hope that it leads to some major product extensions for vBulletin. The vBB developers have been very good at implementing features to appeal to forum operators, but have been extremely slow to introduce major social networking features, member blogs, etc. There are hacks out there for some of these, but hacks aren't the best solution for robust communities. I haven't looked lately, but the last time I checked a "MySpace-like profile" hack required the installation of about ten separate hacks to work - what are the odds that all of these will play nicely together in every environment, including those that have other mods installed?

One potential downside is loss of focus. vBulletin has been a rock-solid platform and is used by some very, very busy communities. If they start getting turnover among the developers and launching new initiatives, they'll have to be careful not to compromise the stability of the software. This is mission-critical stuff for many sites.


 6:49 pm on Jul 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Their SEO has always sucked. But other than that they are a great company. Until proven otherwise, this is a scary thing to happen to people who depend on vbulletin. As for the myspace/blog type features, take a look at their site. They are close to releasing a major upgrade to cover everything you mentioned and more.


 8:04 pm on Jul 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I know they've been working on some of that stuff, but it hasn't appeared to be a high priority. I agree about the "scary" part. I've always had excellent support on the rare occasions when I needed it.


 8:27 pm on Jul 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hopefully it will all turn out ok. Have you seen the screenshots for the new stuff? It looks really good for people who like that kind of stuff, although none of it really interests me.


 9:44 pm on Jul 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am not sure if to be positive or negative about this, I own/run a couple of vbulletin powered sites and admin/mod on a whole load more. My main worry is that profits will be put first and cut backs may be made in support and the official vb hack site, as well as price hikes etc

If the press release is true and there will be money to spend in improving the product, what if the improvements to VB will benefit IB sites the most, and the rest of us have to make do with the features IB sites want.

With the SEO i'm sure most VB users will know of the popular product offered by one company, as well as a few hack based solutions, but if VB has its own built in SEO that would mean that all VB powered forums would all get a SEO boost, and could lead to the search engines disregarding any SEO tweaks in a defult VB setup (hope that point made sense!)


 2:40 am on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Its pretty amazing how they haven't raised the price in so many years, maybe that will change?

Does anyone have any idea how much the take over was for? It would be really interesting to know some internal numbers like sales per day etc.

Any guesses on how much they would be worth?


 4:40 pm on Jul 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Don't know if it is related or not, but the vBulletin website has been down all day...

And we purchased VB about 2 days before the announcement. Not sure if that is good or bad, but I am afraid that it will get swallowed up in the corporate elephant. If I had known this was going to happen I probably would have held off getting it.

[edited by: Wlauzon at 4:43 pm (utc) on July 7, 2007]


 9:37 pm on Jul 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> Don't know if it is related or not, but the vBulletin website has been down all day...

probably traffic because of the additional press coverage. I was able to access it today though with no problems (1200 users online)


 2:45 am on Jul 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Don't know if it is related or not, but the vBulletin website has been down all day...

According to vB [vbulletin.com] the downtime was unplanned and their host's problem.


 3:04 am on Jul 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

But they still have not answered any of my trouble tickets after 3 days.

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