Business consolidation continues through almost all industries. Mergers and acquisitions have reshaped all aspects of the library technology industry. In the scholarly publishing arena, HighWire Press has acquired Semantico, a company based in the United Kingdom that also provides technology and services for digital scholarly publishing. Semantico brings to HighWire a set of technologies complementary to its existing publishing and journal management platforms as well as a major expansion of its client base. All the operating facilities, personnel, and products of Semantico will continue as it joins HighWire Press. This acquisition reinforces HighWire Press as the leading provider of services to the scholarly publishing community.
HighWire Press was launched within the Stanford University Libraries in 1995 as one of the earliest online publishers of scholarly journals and has steadily expanded its portfolio of publications. In the subsequent two decades, it has steadily increased the number of publishers for which it provides technology-based services for hosting and manuscript processing. The company hosts over 3,000 journals and related resources, which will expand to more than 4,000 journals spanning 160 publishers following the acquisition. Apart from the acquisition of Semantico, HighWire Press was already in a phase of expansion. It opened a new office in Belfast, Northern Ireland in March 2016 and will include personnel involved with engineering, professional services, and project management. Its Belfast operation is expected to expand to 74 personnel over the next three years.
The ownership of HighWire Press, based in Los Gatos, CA, is split between a private equity investor and Stanford University. In May 2014, Accel-KKR, a private equity firm specializing in technology-oriented business with over $4 billion in capital, acquired the majority ownership of HighWire Press with Stanford University continuing as a significant minority owner. This transition saw a shift from a non-profit to a forprofit business model. Dan Filby has served as Chief Executive Officer since March 2015.
Semantico is based in Brighton, UK with an additional office in New York. Both facilities will continue to be operated as the company becomes part of HighWire Press. The acquisition of Semantico will almost double HighWire's personnel in the United Kingdom and will significantly strengthen its capacity to serve clients in Europe.
HighWire Press gains significant technology components to complement the platforms it has previously developed in support of the management and publishing of scholarly journals. The following technology platforms were developed by HighWire Press:
- JCore (Journal Core), a journal publishing platform based on the open source Drupal content management system
- Folio platform for publication of scholarly e-books, which was introduced in October 2013
- Impact Vizor and Usage Vizor, a suite of visual analytics tools
- BenchPress manuscript submission and peer review management system
The following technology platforms were developed by Semantico:
- Scolaris publishing platform
- SAMS Sigma, an identity management service
HighWire Press has grown organically over its two decades of operation from its initial work to create the Journal of Biological Chemistry Online in 1995. To survive and prosper over this period, HighWire Press has navigated through a variety of transformations. On the technology front, it has refreshed and expanded its publishing platform and tools, including a shift from its earlier H2O platform to its current Drupal-based JCore. It has developed tools to facilitate the submission and peer review of manuscripts and developed analytical tools required by publishers and scholars. On the business front, the organization has grown from a project launched by Stanford University Libraries into a successful entrepreneurial spin off. In its most recent phase, it won the attention of investors able to fund its expansion into the UK to better support the scholarly publishers throughout Europe and beyond. This business acquisition both further strengthens its business presence in Europe and brings in additional technology components that complement its existing offerings. While business of services for scholarly publishers is somewhat adjacent to the sector providing technology directly to libraries, which is the core focus of Smart Libraries Newsletter, it exemplifies many of the same technology and business trends.