June 24, 2011, 12:46 PM

Oracle to buy FatWire, whose technology supports personalized online content

The acquisition comes as e-retailers strive to make online shopping more personal.

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Oracle Corp. plans to further expand its e-commerce technology offerings with an agreement to acquire FatWire Software, which sells technology that helps online companies deliver content across web and mobile sites tailored to consumers’ online browsing behavior. Oracle did not say how much it paid for FatWire.

FatWire will enable Oracle to meet growing demand for delivering personalized content, including user-generated content, to consumers and businesses across web sites, online social networks and mobile devices, company executives and industry analysts say. Oracle is best known for its database and business management software, including accounting and supply chain management applications, but the company has moved aggressively into e-commerce technology over the past year.

FatWire should benefit from Oracle’s deep financial pockets at a time when FatWire needs to keep pace in a competitive market, says Brian Walker, an e-commerce analyst at Forrester Research Inc., adding that the FatWire technology might integrate with other applications Oracle has gained via acquisitions of Art Technology Group and Siebel CRM Systems Inc. Siebel, for instance, provides software that powers Oracle analytics and customer relationship management applications; Oracle bought Siebel in 2005.

Last fall, Oracle acquired Art Technology Group Inc., or ATG, which provides a broad e-commerce platform ranging from online shopping carts to online customer service and automated product recommendations. And in May, Oracle launched Oracle Retail Merchandising Analytics, a web-based business intelligence application designed to help online retailers manage product pricing and inventory levels to meet sales and profit goals.

With FatWire added to its mix, Walker says, Oracle can offer a personalized and cross-channel content management system that could compete against technology from such companies as Endeca Technologies Inc., Adobe Systems Inc. and United Kingdom-based SDL plc, which last year acquired content management firm Fredhopper and has clients in the United States as well as Europe. “It is an effort to enable marketers and merchants to target customers and personalize the experience for them with the right offers, products, navigation, and even features based on customers’ browsing history and interactions with a retailer across retailing and marketing channels,” Walker says.

Nikki Baird, managing partner of Retail Systems Research, says the Oracle-FatWire combination makes sense because e-retailers face increasing pressure to provide consumers with more relevant content. “Anything that can provide a custom-feeling experience but on a massive scale is going to be of great interest to e-commerce platforms, so I’m not surprised to see a major player in the space making this kind of investment,” she says.

Oracle and FatWire executives say the two companies’ products are complementary. “Together, Oracle and FatWire plan to deliver the most complete web experience management solution that will enable companies to fully optimize the customer experience with innovative social tools that enable user-generated content in a managed environment,” says Hasan Rizvi, senior vice president at Oracle.

Yogesh Gupta, president and CEO of FatWire, says his company’s acquisition by Oracle will bring a much broader range of products and services to FatWire’s clients, which include General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., Military.com and AutoTrader.com.

FatWire and Oracle will continue to operate independently until the expected close of the acquisition later this year, the companies say.

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