The Swedish company Episerver, one of the world’s fastest growing providers of Web Content Management (WCM) platforms, has made the strategic investment of acquiring Netstar, enabling Episerver to offer its clients a Web Content Management solution with an integrated community component. Episerver, founded in 1994, has undergone some pretty impressive growth. In 2007 they increased their revenues compared to the previous year by a dramatic 37%. The company is now undergoing international expansion and part of the strategy is to acquire companies with products that can strengthen what Episerver already has to offer. Hence the Netstar acquisition. Also Swedish and founded in 1996, Netstar has been providing community platforms to some of the most successful European social online communities, such as the lively Swedish food and drink site Tasteline, (one look at that and your mouth’s watering!), the Egmont media group and the British media group EMAP. Netstar’s thirteen employees will work for Episerver, with Netstar CEO Gustav Lagercrantz working in the area of business development for Episerver, leading Episerver’s community area forward and joining the Episerver Management Team. “Companies with strong brands that engage the customers, media companies and intranets at global companies with employees in many locations are just two examples of segments that we see will derive great benefits of this combination of Web content management and community functionality. The Netstar acquisition brings an established product that we know works well and has satisfied customers.” said Episerver CEO Peter Larsson. Netstar itself has been doing very well. In 2007 they had revenues of SEK 10 million – which was a whopping increase of 50 percent over the previous year. The Commercial Value of Social Networking Sites This move reflects the growing realization that social networking sites have great value in terms of advertising and marketing – you have a lively interacting group of people, and, by the nature of the site and its organization, you already have a clear idea of their tastes. Peter Larson explains, "Netstar’s products complement Episerver CMS in a terrific way. The current trend is that customers are seeing the business value of social websites, for both public websites and intranets, and there are great advantages to connecting the community to an organization’s webites. Being able to offer custom-designed community functionality as an integrated part of our web content management application puts us in a unique position in the international market." It looks as though Episerver has made a very smart acquisition, which should work out well for both Episerver and those who were originally with Netstar. It will be interesting to see where it leads, and, for the web generally, it will be interesting to see how integrated community components work with Web Content Management solutions in relation to advertising and marketing to online communities.