June 14, 2005 11:50 AM PDT

Trend Micro tackles spam with Kelkea buy

Aiming to expand its product line and maintain a competitive position, antivirus provider Trend Micro is buying antispam vendor Kelkea for an undisclosed sum.

Kelkea, which until the middle of 2004 was a nonprofit organization named Maps, generated $1.6 million in revenue last year. Because of space considerations, its 20 employees will remain at its San Jose, Calif., offices rather than move to the nearby Cupertino headquarters of Trend Micro's U.S. division. Its founder, CEO Dave Rand, will become Trend Micro's chief technologist of Internet security, the Japanese company said in a statement Tuesday.

"This is symptomatic of all of the antivirus vendors," said Graeme Titterington, an analyst at Ovum. "They are trying to branch out and operate a bit more broadly in blocking nasties on the Internet. Trend Micro is trying to maintain itself on a level with what its major rivals such as Symantec are doing, so it makes sense to maintain its competitive position."

Kelkea provides an antispam service to a range of U.S. Internet service providers, such as America Online, by tackling such content before it enters the network. As a result, said Fernando Rynne, Trend Micro's global product marketing manager for Internet security, the purchase complements Trend Micro's deal with e-mail security vendor Postini, which handles spam at the gateway. The Kelkea service will be sold as an add-on to Trend Micro's core customer base of corporations and service providers.

"We don't want there to be any service disruption, so in the short-term, we'll keep the Kelkea name," Rynne said. "But in the next 30 to 90 days, we'll rebrand all of our service offerings and sell them as Trend Micro."

In addition, over the next three to nine months, Trend Micro intends to offer Kelkea-based services that tackle phishing and pharming, which are online fraud schemes.

As to whether Trend Micro will remain on the acquisition trail, Rynne was guarded. "For those following us, this move comes as a big change. We grew organically for 15 years, apart from buying a minor vendor selling firewalls in 2003 that we integrated into our desktop products," he said.

In May, however, the company purchased anti-spyware company InterMute, a move followed by the Kelkea buy.

"Does that mean we're on a buying trail?" Rynne asked. "Only where it makes sense will you probably see Trend Micro acquiring in areas that it's keen to master technology rapidly. We see botnets, phishing and pharming as important areas, and unless you can leapfrog those threats, you're always trailing behind."

Cath Everett of ZDNet UK reported from London.

 

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