Webforia (http://www.webforia.com), a 3-year old start-up that has been producing business-to-business vertical Web portals, and CNN Interactive (http://www.cnn.com) have announced a strategic alliance that will combine CNN.com content with Webforia's business applications and services. Webforia will receive general news and business news from CNN.com for its online communities and for its newly announced Clickbar, a customizable desktop search tool. CNN will collaborate with Webforia to create targeted content for the vertical business communities and will receive a license to distribute a co-branded version of the Clickbar. Webforia will also gain advertising space and significant exposure on the CNN broadcast and online properties.
CNN is a very strong brand in consumer news, and the new venture will help it to expand its visibility into the business community. Scott Woelfel, CNN senior vice president, general manager, and editor in chief of CNN Interactive, said: "This alliance allows CNN.com to deliver quality journalism to targeted communities in the business-to-business market. Additionally, the CNN Clickbar further expedites one of our goals—to distribute our content to users in the most convenient way possible."
For Webforia, CNN is both a premier content provider for its sites and an important distribution partner. "This is truly a historic day for Webforia," said Mike Kennewick, chairman and CEO of Webforia. "CNN Interactive will offer a specifically helpful opportunity to our primary users. The strategic alliance provides a unique gateway for business professionals to access webforia.com and its vertical communities."
A spokesperson for Webforia said that it had been pursuing and carefully choosing key partners to help build its vertical business communities. The company has been making a continuous series of announcements of new partners, including Halfbrain.com, iPrint, Edupoint.com, NetWills, and a just-announced deal with ScienceWise.com.
Clickbar, which launched in March, is a floating desktop toolbar that gives quick and easy access to Web-based content, products, services, financial information, and popular search engines from a user's desktop. It also allows users to add notes and highlights to Web pages, then share those comments with others. The co-branded CNN Clickbar provides a one-click link to the CNN.com site and direct links to categories of CNN news. Clickbar can be downloaded for free from http://webforia.com/clickbar. A company representative noted that Clickbar is updateable, extensible, and brandable, and that this first version would be steadily improved and expanded upon.
In January, Webforia had announced that it had closed a round of financing, raising $10.6 million in working capital to fund ongoing research and development of Webforia products and services. The 3-year alliance with CNN is estimated to be worth $50 million, and can be seen as a major coup for Bellevue, Washington-based Webforia. CNN.com will take a minority equity stake in the privately held Webforia, though details of the deal were not released. A company representative said that the deal with CNN Interactive was not exclusive, and that they are currently working on additional distribution deals. So stay tuned.