MetaCreations on a Diet

Just a few months after seeing the departure of Kai Krause, MetaCreations (805/566-6200, http://www.metacreations.com ) has sold off three consumer programs that bore the flamboyant executive's name: Kai's Super Goo, Kai's Photo Soap, and Kai's Power Show. Scan-Soft (978/977-2000, http://www.scansoft.com ) will add the programs to its line of text-recognition and digital-imaging software, which includes TextBridge Pro and PaperPort Deluxe. MetaCreations will handle support for the three consumer products through the end of the year.

ScanSoft says it paid $2.6 million and assumed up to $950,000 in liabilities to acquire the products. MetaCreations could earn up to $1 million more in financial-performance-incentive payments. MetaCreations says there will be no layoffs as a result of the sale.

Time of Changes

The sale of the three products is part of an ongoing transition for the software publisher, which has changed its tag line from "The Visual Computing Software Company" to "The Creative Web Company."

MetaCreations says that it will now focus on 2-D and 3-D applications for graphics professionals. The company recently released Canoma, a program for creating 3-D scenes from still photographs, and Poser 4, a new version of its 3-D character-animation software. MetaCreations has also begun selling individual Photoshop plug-ins through its Web site.

The company plans to release a patch later this year for its Bryce software that will let you incorporate animated Poser characters into Bryce landscapes. MetaCreations has also been demonstrating a forthcoming under-$200 plug-in that will add automatic lip-syncing capabilities to Poser: when you play a voice track, the plug-in causes the character's mouth to move in a natural manner.

Informal Alliance

The company is following the same path taken by Macromedia, which hit troubled financial waters two years ago and then underwent a transition in which it focused on Web authoring tools and shed such noncore products as Xres and Extreme 3D. Indeed, it appears that Macromedia has forged an informal alliance with MetaCreations, which had a major presence at the recent Macromedia User Conference. Despite their common focus on Web-graphics applications, there is almost no overlap between the companies' product lines. Macromedia CEO Rob Burgess and MetaCreations CEO Gary Lauer are both Silicon Graphics veterans.

MetaCreations has also announced MetaStream.com, a joint venture with Computer Associates aimed at promoting the former's MetaStream 3-D Web technology. The new venture, to be headquartered in New York City, will license MetaStream software for use in e-commerce applications and will also provide development services. Robert Rice, MetaCreations' former vice president of strategic affairs, will head the joint venture.

October 1999 page: 30

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