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Apptix Buys MailStreet To Bolster Hosted Mail

Apptix, a provider of managed e-mail and collaboration applications for small and midsize businesses, plans to acquire MailStreet, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based small-business messaging specialist.

The deal, unveiled Wednesday, is valued at $7 million in cash and/or stock, according to executives of Herndon, Va.-based Apptix. All 20 of MailStreet's employees, including the founders, will stay on at Apptix, said Apptix CEO Amir Hudda.

MailStreet targets businesses with fewer than 20 employees--“ultra” small businesses in Apptix&'s parlance--to provide hosted mail based on Microsoft Exchange Server and relevant antispam and antivirus add-ons, as well as connections to wireless devices, Hudda said. Apptix offers similar services but in shared- and dedicated-resource models.

"Larger companies prefer a dedicated offering, even though it's an outsourced model," Hudda said. For smaller companies, Apptix can pool multiple accounts on shared servers.

MailStreet competed with one of Apptix's businesses, ASP-one.com, which offers hosted mail services to small companies.

Apptix also offers hosted collaboration solutions based on Microsoft SharePoint and provisions trial-hosted workspaces when users go to Microsoft's Web site to try out SharePoint.

Apptix has been a pioneer in hosted mail and collaboration. Its wares are often private-labeled by other service providers, such as Verio and Savvis. In a deal announced last summer, IBM Global Services also is hosting Exchange-based mail on Apptix's platform for midsize businesses. Going forward, Apptix plans to remain focused on messaging and collaboration but will add such capabilities as instant messaging and Web conferencing.

Given Apptix&'s relationship with Microsoft, Apptix executives said their company is watching the unfolding of Microsoft's hosting plans with great interest. Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled free and subscription-based mail and collaboration services for small companies and is expected to add more hosted offerings for bigger businesses in the next year.

"As of now, we're Microsoft-only. But going forward, our vision includes archiving solutions, fax-to-e-mail, Web conferencing and instant messaging, and we'll pick the best-of-breed for each. We may opt for Webex over Microsoft Live Meeting if we find they have the biggest market share," said Samir Gulati, vice president of marketing at Apptix. "We're looking at hosted PBX, from Cilantro and BroadSoft. Microsoft partnered with Cilantro, so we might take BroadSoft. We don't want to be fully Microsoft."

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