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The Thomson Takeover of Dialog: More and Less
Posted On March 27, 2000
Last week we reported on the Thomson purchase of Dialog's Information Services Division (the "real" Dialog, which includes DataStar and Profound) and the conversion of what was left into BrightStation. We now have some additional information and some corrections to that story.

Patrick Sommers, current chief operating officer of the Dialog Corp., will join Thomson as president and CEO of Dialog. Sommers, who formerly served as president of Dun & Bradstreet Information Resources, will report to Ronald H. Schlosser, the new president and CEO of Thomson Scientific, Reference and Healthcare. (Our previous story indicated that Thomson would place Dialog with West Group and West Online.) Thomson will bring over the entire operation "from management right through to front-line employees," according to information posted on the Thomson Scientific, Reference and Healthcare Web site.

In an intriguing side development, Patrick J. Tierney, who used to run Dialog back when it was called Knight-Ridder Information, has moved from president and CEO of Thomson Scientific, Reference and Healthcare, to president and CEO of the Thomson Financial Group. Schlosser took Tierney's place after serving as CEO of Thomson Financial Publishing and its six Thomson Financial business units. At the same time, Sharon Rowlands has become COO of Thomson Financial, a new position managing Thomson Financial Publishing, Database Group, and Trading Services. Rowlands, formerly managing director of the Thomson Financial Database Group in Europe, now reports to Tierney.

Schlosser joined Thomson in July 1995 and has worked with developing new Internet-based products and making strategic acquisitions at Thomson Financial Publishing. Before joining Thomson, he spent 7 years as president of Reed Elsevier's Science business in the U.S. and international database operations. Before that he served as general manager of marketing and operations for the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI), which is now owned by Thomson and reports to the same division he now heads. In making the appointment, Richard Harrington, president and CEO of Thomson Corp., stated: "Ron has built an outstanding track record at Thomson, and, given his solid science background and sales and marketing savvy, we expect strong performance from our Scientific, Reference and Healthcare group under his leadership."

According to a Thomson Corp. press announcement, all Thomson's market groups will work to "leverage the relevant content and capabilities from Dialog within their specific markets." The same release also stated that Thomson's earnings per share in 2000 should dilute somewhat "as Thomson continues to make investments to grow Dialog's core business and fully leverage its capabilities across Thomson's businesses."

BrightStation will receive an equity investment from Thomson of $25 million. Thomson has also promised to evaluate BrightStation's technology and software as potential tools for its own business units.

Right down to the wire, Dialog's old management was announcing new product developments. The same week of the sale announcements, it issued a press release detailing the launch of Dialog One (, a Web-based service that will carry simple interfaces for novice searchers to complex data in vertical market modules. The premier module covered Intellectual Property with promises to develop other modules for competitive intelligence, pharmaceuticals, fundraising, aerospace, international news, and "many more." Now that development job belongs to Thomson.

However, such tasks reflect a commitment across Thomson Corp. to the new information world order. Thomson has been investing $150 million annually in developing new-and-improved Internet-based products and services. Over 65 percent of Thomson's annual capital expenditure of around $500 million focuses on technology spending. That amount should increase in the future.

Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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