- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2005

Network Solutions, a Herndon domain-name registration and Web services company, plans to announce today that it will acquire an Illinois e-commerce company to bring online marketing, Web site design and search engine services in-house.

Financial terms of Network Solutions’ acquisition of MonsterCommerce LLC of Belleville, Ill., were not disclosed, said Champ Mitchell, chairman and chief executive officer of Network Solutions.

“It gives us the best-quality e-commerce tool available and it gives us control over it in terms of operation and development in the future,” Mr. Mitchell said. Both companies are privately held.

MonsterCommerce’s suite of e-commerce, online marketing and Web design services will be available to Network Solutions’ 3.9 million customers. The same will be true of Network Solutions’ services to MonsterCommerce’s 5,500 customers, which include the U.S. Tennis Association and the Carvel Corp. ice cream company.

“It’s an intelligent move on [Network Solutions’] part, broadening out their offerings; but I’m not sure that it’s going to work … it depends on how sophisticated their customer audience is,” said Sara Radicati, president and CEO of the Radicati Group Inc., a technology market research firm in Palo Alto, Calif.

Domain-name registration companies often are expected to be “neutral and off to the side, so this may confuse their customer base as to what they do,” she said.

But the deal will allow MonsterCommerce to serve a much larger customer base and to introduce new products and services that the small business sometimes couldn’t afford to do alone, said Stephanie Leffler, the company’s CEO. Her new title will be president and general manager.

MonsterCommerce has had numerous suitors since it began selling its e-commerce software in 2000, but never seriously considered an offer until Network Solutions’ summer inquiry, Ms. Leffler said.

Born and raised in Fairfax, she said she was especially happy to sell to a Northern Virginia company that shared MonsterCommerce’s customer service goals and will enable the business to grow.

Network Solutions had been offering online marketing and enhanced search engine services through a third party, but that relationship will be ending, Mr. Mitchell said. He added that MonsterCommerce’s tools can help Network Solutions’ customers, especially small businesses, ensure their sites are among the top search engine results.

“People are not using the Yellow Pages or classifieds anymore,” Mr. Mitchell said, adding that online marketing can include everything from an e-mail campaign to placing a banner ad on another site.

MonsterCommerce headquarters will remain in Belleville and the company brand will add the tagline, “a Network Solutions company.”

All 95 employees have agreed to join Network Solutions staff of 670, company officials said.

The deal should be finalized Jan. 2, Mr. Mitchell said.

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