Recent Developments & Rants

Microsoft gets hold of Medstory

Microsoft (MSFT) is purchasing Medstory Inc., a health search engine. Medstory enables users to search complex health and medical related topics on the web intelligently. Some noteworthy features about Medstory is their ability to filter out non-health results, provide effective granularity, allow audio & video search and their killer app. Medstory’s approach is to not only provide a list of web pages but to synthesize the meaning of every user search in the context of health and medicine, and then share this knowledge with the user to help refine and guide their search.

Medstory will become the second acquisition for Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group, which bought Azyxxi, a maker of healthcare software that displays patient information last year.

Rant: There seems to be an increasing demand for online healthcare information driven by aging baby boomers. Filtering out non health-related searches makes getting the right information that much easy for them. Microsoft is stepping in the right direction by acquiring Medstory. However they face stiff competition from companies like Healthline who provides health search services, Google (GOOG) who is developing a health information search tool, and former AOL CEO who is launching a healthcare portal called Revolution Health.

Related Links:
MSN’s Medstory Story
Microsoft buying search firm in health-care push

Oracle Buying Hyperion
Oracle (ORCL) announced a deal to buy Hyperion Solutions (HYSL), a business intelligence software provider. Oracle will pay $52 a share in cash, or about $3.3 billion.

The acquisition is yet another multibillion-dollar deal in recent years for Oracle, who bought CRM software maker Siebel System and archrival PeopleSoft. Oracle executives are more enthusiatic about Hyperion deal because there is no product overlap unlike in case of PeopleSoft and Siebel. However Oracle will have to convince their customers that the Hyperion application will not be optimized for the Oracle database environment and rather that it will be optimized for applications that are important to their company, especially because most large companies have a heterogeneous database and application environment that requires a high level of open and ERP-independent software.

Rant: This addition could make Oracle a formidable force in the world of business intelligence software and hopefully help revive their stock. This deal puts Hyperion rivals Cognos (COGN) and Business Objects (BOBJ) under pressure due to stiff competition from Oracle and unlikely chance of a buyout. This could also mean bad news for rivals SAP AG (SAP). Oracle claims thousands of SAP customers rely on Hyperion and probably will not switch. SAP replied that the Hyperion acquisition will lead to more confusion among Oracle customers. Oracle’s strategy, limited by its inability to grow on its own, has resorted to attempting to acquire customers.

Related Links:
Oracle Buys Hyperion Solutions for $3.3 Billion
Oracle Buys Hyperion but will customers bite ?

GE says Hold the Salt…
General Electric Co (GE) has joined the Algerian Government, and other Algerian bodies to build Africa’s largest seawater desalination (removing salt from water) plant. This project is part of GE’s ecomagination effort, which is aimed at building innovative solutions to tough global problems, like water scarcity. This project will supply 25% of Algeria’s capital city’s population with desperately needed drinking water.

Rant: Full marks to GE for their effort on ecomagination.


Durable Goods Orders Decline Most in 18 months

In December 06 order rose by + 2.8%, where as in January 07 dropped by – 7.8%, reasoing being reduced demand for transportation equipment especially commercial aircraft and excess inventories. Commercial aircraft orders fell 60% while transport orders on the whole fell 18%. Ex-transport, durables were down 3.1%. Orders for core capital equipment were down 6%.

Rant: Decline in durable goods orders were labeled one reason for the recent meltdown at the market. Sigh*, another indicator to worry about.

Recommended Book: Jim Cramer’s Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich.

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(Source: Seeking Alpha, Microsoft)