Watchfire buys G

An Ottawa software provider has added a Web site assessment service through the acquisition of a business unit from Gómez Inc.

Watchfire Corp. Monday said it had purchased Gómez Pro, which includes a Web-based

subscription service that ranks financial services firms against their peers for Web site effectiveness. The service also provides industry best practices and emerging standards research. The Web site assessment service, meanwhile, includes the Gómez ProStation Scorecard to provide deeper competitive analysis and the ability to analyze task-based user reviews. All Gomez Pro employees have been transferred to Watchfire’s Waltham, Mass. office. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gómez president and CEO Alex Stein said the company began seeking a partner to acquire the business unit because it wanted to concentrate on its performance measurement services, which he said increased by 82 per cent last year.

“”We have a long-term relationship with Watchfire to continue to provide data for all the scorecards and any custom work they do,”” he said. “”That lets us focus on the unique attributes that we have — seeing how clients can reach the last mile, whether they’re operational-ready.””

Watchfire, which offers software to conduct quantitative assessments of Web sites for compliance to security and privacy policies, was first attracted to Gómez Pro’s brand reputation in the financial services sector, according to founder and CTO Michael Weider.

“”There are a lot of consultants that do assessments for companies on a one-off basis,”” he said. “”There’s no names off the top of my head that would compete with what Gómez can do.””

The acquisition will add significant value to the work Watchfire is already doing with companies to better prepare for legislation like the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and Sarbanes-Oxley.

“”Gómez is the other end — feature/function, usability, other dimensions that we didn’t do,”” he said. “”We were both focused on financial services, the same kind of customers — the person who heads up the e-business channel.””

Under the terms of the agreement, Watchfire has limited rights to the Gómez Pro name, which will be rebranded Watchfire Gómez Pro. Eventually, said Weider, the company will offer services under a more unified brand. Gomez Pro has a list of hundreds of metrics for its qualitative site evaluations, and Watchfire will add its own.

“”We’re not going to be interrupting or changing the service in a radical way,”” he said. “”We’ll simply be using our technology to augment their scorecards.””

Stein said Gómez will continue to work with Watchfire by complementing each others’ services on mutual client engagements.

“”We were looking for someone who could invest in it and build out more data streams into those high-level benchmarks,”” he said.

While Gómez Pro in the last few years has focused almost exclusively on financial services, Watchfire is also interested in developing its business in other vertical markets, Weider said. These include technology companies, the government, media and pharmaceuticals.

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