Palm and Be today announced they have signed an asset purchase agreement for Palm to acquire the intellectual property and technology assets of Be. Palm has also made employment offers to Be's engineering team. The purchase price is $11 million, to be paid in Palm stock, following approval from Be shareholders and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.
This is the third announcement Palm has made in recent weeks in support of its Palm OS(R) platform business. The company extended its licensing program to include ARM silicon suppliers (July 24), announced intentions to separate the Platform Solutions Group into a wholly owned subsidiary by the end of calendar 2001 (July 27), and is now augmenting its future capability in development tools, and user-centric communications, Internet, and multimedia technologies.
"The technology and people from Be are highly regarded," said Carl Yankowski, Palm chief executive officer. "We look forward to them joining
forces with our own outstanding engineers on future versions of the Palm OS. This move will help us expand the PalmOS platform into broader markets using their multimedia media and Internet expertise."
Be Chief Executive Officer Jean-Louis Gassee will assist Palm in integrating the technology and talent through a temporary advisory relationship, effective upon closing of the transaction. He also will provide strategic advice related to the anticipated separation of the Palm Platform business from the Solutions Group. He will report to the Platform Solutions Group Committee of the Palm Board of Directors.
"I look forward to working closely with Palm to integrate Be's technology and talent into the Palm Platform Solutions Group," said Gassee.
"The Be team moving to Palm is enthusiastic about collaborating on so many subjects of mutual strength and devotion -- superior operating system software, attention to end users and the high value our people place on our developer community."
"Be's focus on developers is a strong complement to our commitment to work with the more than 165,000 Palm OS developers to help make them successful in the Palm Economy," said Yankowski.
Palm also announced the resignation of Alan Kessler, general manager, Platform Solutions Group. Kessler, who is leaving Palm effective Aug. 17, did not disclose his plans.
"Palm is a great company with an exciting future, and I'm honored to have served here since prior to the company spinning off from 3Com," said Kessler. "I'm ready, however, to move on to a new challenge."
Eric Benhamou, chairman of the Palm Board of directors and a member of the Platform Solutions Group Committee of the board, will act as chief executive officer of the Platform Solutions Group until a permanent replacement is named. He will work closely with Yankowski, a fellow member of the board committee, and David C. Nagel, who is chairman of the board committee.
"We thank Alan for his contributions to Palm and wish him all the best," said Yankowski. "Our developers have grown from 20,000 to more than
165,000 under his leadership, and he's managed the successful introductions of Palm OS's 3.5 and 4.0, and the addition of several important licensees."
The Platform Solutions Group develops the Palm OS(R) platform and licenses it to makers of handheld computers including HandEra, Handspring, Sony, Symbol and Palm's Solutions Group, and smartphone makers including Kyocera and Samsung. New licensees announced this year are Acer, which plans to take theOS to Chinese-speaking customers in Asia-Pacific, and Garmin, a leader in global-positioning satellite products. More than 16 million Palm Powered handhelds have been shipped. According to market-research firms, the Palm OS is used in 76 percent of all personal digital assistants.