It’s old news, sort of, but Yahoo has acquired software start-up VerdiSoft and founder-entrepreneur Marco Boerries, the brains behind Sun Microsystems’ StarOffice. How old is the news? Yahoo completed the deal in February, but purposely kept it under wraps until today, when Boerries’ name surfaced in connection to a new Motorola alliance.
Founded in late 2001, VerdiSoft never shipped a product. But its vision caught the attention of Yahoo, and for good reason. VerdiSoft had developed server software that allows a person’s settings and preferences to follow them from office to cell phone, from device-to-device. As Yahoo begins to push its many services out to a myriad of devices, it will want users to have a seamless experience.
Yahoo spokeswoman Nicole Leverich gave us some real-world examples of how this would work:
If you add a phone number into the phone book on your mobile phone, that number would automatically be added to your other address books. If you read an email message on the phone, it’s marked as read when you get back to your desk at the office.
“The idea here is to help us expand ourselves beyond the desktop in a way that is seamless to consumers,” Leverich said.
This is clearly a priority for Yahoo. Yahoo communications Vice President Brad Garlinghouse shared this vision with us several months ago. And the company now has a Connected Life business unit, of which Boerries is senior vice president (“Connected Life” was the phrase VerdiSoft applied to its products). That unit includes includes mobile, broadband and digital home, so Yahoo is obviously looking beyond just mobile phones.
Boerries himself is somewhat well-known in the valley as being the wunderkind who started his own word processing software company, Star Division, at the age of 16. He sold the company to Sun Microsystems for $73.5 million in 1999, and Sun still markets the software under the StarOffice name.
Boerries was an executive at Sun, but left in 2001 to start Verdisoft. Leverich said that Yahoo hired the entire 50-person VerdiSoft team, including 35 workers who are based in Germany.