Anti-spyware developer Webroot Software is expanding into the software-as-a-service arena with what it officially refers to as a merger with Email Systems, a UK-based provider of mail and web-filtering services. No financial details of the transaction were disclosed.
Boulder, Colorado-based Webroot, which is privately held, is best known for its anti-spyware technology, Spy Sweeper, but it has also been expanding its remit. In October 2006 it added an anti-virus capability to Spy Sweeper via a partnership with UK developer Sophos, and a month later launched parental control software called Child Safe.
In August this year it unveiled its AntiSpyware Corporate Edition with AntiVirus. The Spy Sweeper brand was kept for the consumer space, and new in the enterprise package was host-based intrusion-prevention software using Sophos’s Behavioral Genotype technology. Last month it rebranded Spy Sweeper and added a self-configuring firewall. It is now called Webroot AntiVirus with AntiSpyware and Firewall.
By merging with Email Systems, it is now adding email and web filtering as a service. Email Systems is headquartered in Westerham, UK and also has operations in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and Australia, while Webroot is primarily a North American business, with some activity in Europe.
We saw opportunities to grow our business in three areas, said Mike Irwin, COO of Webroot in explaining the merger and the choice of Email Systems. Firstly in expanding internationally, secondly in going from the consumer space into enterprise, and they are primarily an enterprise vendor, and thirdly in adding a perimeter service to our desktop offeirng for SMB.
Email Systems thus becomes the latest mail and web-filtering service provider to become part of a bigger entity, after FrontBridge (into Microsoft), BlackSpider (Websense via SurfControl), and Postini (Google). Irwin said Webroot is concerned to get the integration process right, even at the expense of speed, pointing to some of the other acquisitions in this space as examples of what to avoid. You don’t hear much about FrontBridge these days, and I don’t believe it’s been a very successful integration, he began. It’s too early to judge the Postini/Google deal, but I do see lots of folks streaming out of Postini, and as for BlackSpider, it was a very challenging integration with SurfControl and now thte exercise with Websense is equally challenging.
After this merger, there will be few standalone filtering service providers left. The obvious one is MessageLabs, which is still privately held so could be acquired, though it would probably be a target only for a much larger player, given its own size (it has a run rate in excess of $100m). The other name that comes to mind is MXLogic, but that company is a US-only player and so would not suit anyone, like Webroot, that was looking to add international presence.