SAP buys intelligence business

Germany’s SAP AG, the world’s largest business-management software firm, agreed to buy Paris-based Business Objects SA for $6.8 billion. The all-cash deal represents an 18 percent premium over Business Object’s closing price on Friday. (MarketWatch) Business Objects makes business intelligence software, which companies use to sift through their own data to find missed sales and cost-cutting opportunities and perform other analysis. Unlike its larger rival Oracle, SAP has traditionally shunned large acquisitions. “This is the biggest deal SAP has ever done by a factor of around 10 times,’ said Jefferies & Co. analyst Ross MacMillan. (Bloomberg)

IBM, Google invest in brain pool

IBM and Google unveiled an initiative to help university students learn to program and research over the Internet, in what is called “cloud computing.” The $30 million-plus investment will build and allow students to access clusters of powerful, parallel computer servers located remotely. (The New York Times, free registration required) Both companies are invested heavily in cloud computing, and the initiative will help train their potential workforce, but that’s not all. “They’d like to influence the future of online business before Microsoft extends its influence,” said IDC analyst Frank Gens. (The Wall Street Journal)

MSNBC buys ‘citizen’ journalist site

MSNBC Interactive News, the joint Microsoft-NBC venture, bought Newsvine, a social news site, for an undisclosed amount. It is the first acquisition in MSNBC’s 11-year history. Netvine, started two years ago, features news stories and commentary, along with other media, written or posted by users. It has six employees and about a million viewers a month. (The Seattle Times) Several mainstream news outlets are trying to incorporate more user-generated content. “We set out to create an environment where big and little media could live in one place and make each other better,” said Netvine founder Mike Davidson. (The New York Times, free registration required)

What’s in a name? $500,000

The drug-branding industry has grown alongside the booming pharmaceutical business, and a good name is worth a lot. Consultants get paid between $200,000 and $500,000 to come up with a name for a new drug that won’t lead to medical mix-ups, sounds good, and has not already been claimed—30,000 drug names are trademarked in the U.S., nearly 150,000 in Europe. But there is method to branders’ madness. A high-tech drug? Use an X. “There are certain letters that express power and control, like Z, M, or P,” says drug-marketing professor William Trombetta at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “A lot of it is more art than science.” (The Indianapolis Star in USA Today)