3Com plans to acquire Kerbango

3Com Corporation has signed an agreement to acquire the outstanding stock of Kerbango, the developer of the world’s first standalone Internet radio, radio tuning system and radio web site.

The transaction, which is scheduled to close during the first fiscal quarter, is valued at approximately US$80 million and will be accounted for as a purchase. The acquisition follows an investment made previously by 3Com Ventures, a venture capital group within 3Com that invests in emerging technology companies throughout the world.

Kerbango employs 28 people in Cupertino, Calif. Kerbango’s CEO, Jon Fitch, will become vice president and general manager of the Internet Audio division, reporting to Julie Shimer, vice president and general manager, 3Com’s Consumer Networks Business.

The Kerbango Internet Radio is the world’s first stand-alone Internet Radio. It lets people listen to Internet radio without any connection to a personal computer. There is no new monthly fee to listen to thousands of channels — people can connect the radio using their existing ISP.

Kerbango’s Tuning Service is a content-rich, easy-to-use directory for access to Internet audio from around the world — and the power behind Kerbango’s Internet Radio. The radio’s interchange with the Tuning Service makes it a two-way consumer appliance, enabling listeners to respond to what they are listening to, and opening up new interactive media research and advertising channels.

The Kerbango web site helps anyone with an Internet connection find and enjoy audio from more than 5,000 stations around the world regardless of whether they own or plan to own the Kerbango Internet radio. The site organises stations by category, making it extremely simple to find specific genres of music and audio, from rock and classical to news and sports.

In a separate announcement, Thomson multimedia signed a Letter of Intent with Kerbango to brand and distribute an RCA brand Internet Radio that uses the Kerbango Internet Radio Tuning Service. Following the closing of the acquisition of Kerbango, 3Com intends to follow a similar licensing strategy of forming alliances with key distribution partners to increase distribution of the Kerbango product and services.