BiblioMondo offers two major library automation systems, Concerto, sold primarily in Europe, and PortFolio, which it offers in Canada and France. About a dozen libraries in the United States also have adopted PortFolio.
Concerto sells mostly to municipal libraries. PortFolio also is used primarily by publics but also sees some use in government agency, museum, and other special libraries. BiblioMondo has recently developed a suite of portal and metasearch products called ZONES that can operate with either Concerto or PortFolio.
BiblioMondo is a mid-sized privately held automation company, with revenues of $11.9 million in 2003. Though the company has a limited number of customer libraries in the United States, it has long been working toward gaining a larger presence, either through direct sales or through a business acquisition. The company is well known in Europe and Canada where its software is used by many municipal library systems. BiblioMondo was formed in October 1999 with the acquisition of the U.K.-based company named ALS International by the Canadian-based company named Best-Seller. These two companies developed Concerto and PortFolio, respectively. Following the completion of the acquisition, the new combined company took the name BiblioMondo. Between September 1999 and September 2004 the company attracted about CDN $18.6 million in venture capital investments.
ISACSOFT, a publicly traded company, acquired BiblioMondo in a transaction expected to be completed by the beginning of October 2004 valued at about CDN $13M. The new company will be valued at about CDN $70M. Ian M. Ferguson, the president and CEO of BiblioMondo was named the Chief Operating Officer of ISACSOFT. In this merger, the venture capital firms exit from their role in the company, and ownership transfers to the shareholders of ISACSOFT. ISACSOFT offers many interactive learning programs used in specialized training and distance education and offers services related to localization (translating software into a local language) of software and language translation. ISACSOFT sees in BiblioMondo not only technologies that complement its existing products and services, but also a new channel for sales and marketing.
ISACSOFT, founded in April 2003 by Ronald Brisebois, who formerly headed COGNICASE, is the second largest computer services company in Canada. Brisebois serves as president, CEO, and chairman of the board of ISACSOFT.
In January 2003 COGNICASE was acquired by CGI, its larger rival in a hostile takeover. Following this acquisition, Brisebois began assembling the company now known as ISACSOFT through a series of strategic business acquisitions.
The dynamics of this acquisition differ significantly from those where two direct competitors in the library automation field merge. ISACSOFT comes from outside the library industry and has no interest in shelving either of the automation systems offered by BiblioMondo.
Quite the contrary, it is interested in developing BiblioMondo systems. The ZONES portal technologies are complimentary to the e-learning products and services offered by ISACSOFT. In this merger, the library products and services, the management, and personnel of the company are expected to remain intact. By becoming part of a larger company, BiblioMondo gains access to increased resources for development and marketing. Before its acquisition, BiblioMondo's objectives included expansion into the U.S. automation market. In 1993, when the company operated under the name Best-Seller, Inc., it launched a U.S. division headed by industry veterans Joan Frye Williams and Janet L. Bruman. That sales effort yielded limited results in North American sales south of the Canadian border.
Librarians should watch BiblioMondo in the next few years to observe how a library automation that is managed by a larger entity will be able to focus on the interest of libraries and how its development and marketing strategies evolve