Data Depth Corp., a Seattle-based company started last year by Mike O'Donnell, has acquired the assets and certain liabilities of iCopyright, Inc., which has retained 12 full-time and eight part-time employees. Although there is a new owner, the service will continue to operate under the iCopyright trade name (http://www.icopyright.com).
O'Donnell was the founder, president, and CEO of iCopyright, which was launched in 1998 and introduced its automated copyright permissions and reprint clearinghouse service in early 2000. [See the November 1999 interview with O'Donnell at http://www.infotoday.com/it/nov99/hane.htm] In the second quarter of 2000, several of iCopyright's venture capital board members recommended that the company seek a new CEO with IPO experience in order to move it forward quickly. Bernee Strom, formerly of Priceline and InfoSpace, was brought in by the board as the new chairman and CEO of iCopyright. O'Donnell left the company at that point and started Data Depth. A number of other top iCopyright executives were also replaced by the board.
O'Donnell noted that, with Strom's "great pedigree," she would have been a good CEO to bring the company public—if the circumstances had been different. However, the company attempted to grow and to branch out into a number of related opportunities, just as the economy was turning sour and venture capital money dried up. The company was reportedly ready to shut down on February 15. O'Donnell was contacted by some board members, and Data Depth agreed to the purchase. O'Donnell said he has reassembled his core team and the company will now focus clearly on its core business.
According to O'Donnell, with this acquisition "there has been no system downtime and no loss of the publisher or end-user customer base. The acquisition was smooth and friendly. It's business as usual, with a better focus on the copyright-compliance and instant-content-licensing service. We have signed over 250 publications and are adding several new ones each week." He said that several global partnerships would be announced next month.
iCopyright recently won the Codie Award, the information industry's top honor, given by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA; http://www.siia.net) for "Best Digital Rights Management Software" (http://www.icopyright.com/news/pr031301.html).
O'Donnell had started Data Depth Corp. with the goal to do for data what iCopyright was doing for full text. He envisioned a service that would mine the data in commercial databases (such as credit reports and public records data) and offer instant licensing and syndication. Ironically, he thought that eventually iCopyright might buy Data Depth. The idea for Data Depth is still in the research-and-development stage and has now been put on hold while all company energies go into revitalizing the iCopyright service.