FAST Search and Transfer, whose “enterprise search” makes every element of an organization searchable, is being sold to Microsoft for $1.2 billion after the Oslo-based company severely missed sales goals and was forced last year to lay off a large number of employees. The company has recently sought to extend its role beyond enterprise search by developing AdMomentum, an AdWords-like ad solution.
FAST’s solutions are very focused on B2B, but they have been deployed by a number of local-oriented players, including MediaNews Group, The Washington Post, InfoSpace, Scandinavian publishing giant Schipsted, and the online directory efforts from Deutsche Telekom and Portugal Telecom. These companies used FAST to integrate their structured (news, directory, map, B2B, classified, encyclopedia) and unstructured data (Web, images, news).
Speaking at the Fast Forward conference last year, Reed Business Search President Stephen Baker said companies such as FAST are especially important in the era of user-generated content. The risk of giving control of content to users is that you mitigate the benefits of the Web 2.0 platform (SEO, preferential content delivery, etc.), he said. “The enterprise search solution gives back the control aspect.”
At the same conference, MediaNews Group VP Teresa Lawler said MNG married FAST’s search data with Omniture’s usage data and Tacoda’s behavioral data. “We’re sucking up all that data.”