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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).
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.
anyone cares to guess the price?
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.
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!)
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]