April 30, 2007

ClearForest, Reuters, Factiva, Dow Jones, and possible futures

ClearForest is being acquired by Reuters. That ClearForest is being bought is unsurprising. The company recently pulled in its marketing horns dramatically, a common sign of putting oneself up for sale. The Reuters move, meanwhile, can be seen as a sequel to the divestiture of its half of Factiva to former 50-50 partner Dow Jones.

If the two main parts of the text mining market are custom publishing and finding warning signs, then both could actually be a good fit with Reuters. The custom publishing part is obvious. As for early warning – well, maybe ClearForest will lose its competitive edge in consumer product warranty analysis or something, but a significant fraction of the early warning market is tied to news articles, web postings, and other things that are a good fit for Reuters.

But the really interesting (at least to me) possibilities arise in the core Reuters and Dow Jones business of supporting investment decisions. Factiva was prevented by partnership agreement from pursuing that market, which made things weird, since the parent firms weren’t doing what they could with text analytics either. Now each has its own text analytics subsidiary, and all possibilities are presumably on the table. And oh by the way – Factiva is arguably the biggest text mining/fact extraction company around, while Clearforest was making progress in the hedge fund market shortly before marketing went radio-silent.

Hmm. I want to think about this a bit before posting a list of possibilities. Or maybe even talk with Factiva, something I’ve – amazingly – almost never done.

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