Friday, July 06, 2007

From CD-ROM manufacturer to search engine service provider

While I was in Brussels, I missed a historical event. The Dutch company C-Content celebrated its 20 years of existence. I would have loved to be present at the celebration to congratulate Matt Moayedi, the founder and CEO of the company.

Matt (in the middle), a charming man of Iranian origin, I met, I guess, in 1986 when he was working for GE Plastics in The Netherlands and was diving into the new product of audio and data compact discs. The production of audio CDs had become routine by that time and GE Plastics delivered the base material for the production process. But in 1986 he was exploring the market of CD-ROM production. The first pilot CD-ROMs had been produced.

At that time I was working in a company which had the production of electronic publishing as its objective. The company was one of the first companies promoting SGML and sold amongst others a US content management system and CD-ROM services. We used several packages of retrieval software such as Status, a retrieval package developed in the nuclear industry as a mainframe package and scaled down for CD-ROM, Dataware and a home grown package.

By 1987 Matt Moyaedi was involved in setting up a CD-ROM production plant, Europe Optical Disk. And from the beginning he combined production of the physical CD-ROMs with the software production. But he soon understood that these two activities were incompatible and he founded CD-Europe; with the name he made immediately clear what he saw as his working area. One of his first clients was the bio-medical division of Elsevier, which was still an independent international publisher. In the first period he also picked up orders from the Dutch Government’s Printing Office Sdu. (Of course much to the chagrin of the company I was working for).

The company CD-Europe, which changed its name later to C-CONTENT was successful (contrary to the company I was working for). It got orders from the European Publication Office of the European Commission, successfully turning print publications such as the Tenders electronic daily (TED) in CD-ROMs. But by the time internet came around C-CONTENT took a good look at the business and decided that the retrieval package he had was not only meant for CD-ROMs, but could also work in an internet environment So the company developed for example the product eXtrect® or extensible retrieval technology. Based on XML, browser technology and supported by Unicode for the indexing and presentation of documents, the company was able to produce multi-lingual databases for internet access.

But with Google coming up, C-CONTENT had to look for a niche in the market in order to exploit the retrieval software. And it found a real niche in combining a search engine with various legal sources and offering this service to lawyers and accountants, government departments and non-profit organizations. In the Netherlands the company operates now the service Rechtsorde in the legal sector. This company is the middle man between publishers and the clients.

And the vision on the future is clear for Matt. His company will develop expert systems. These systems will yield a more precise result from a search by analyzing content and using support facilities such as domain specific thesauri, classification, relevance ranking and language support. But the founder of C-CONTENT also recognizes that it is the publisher who keeps editorial control.

Matt Moayedi went from CD-ROM manufacturer to a search engine service provider in 20 years. And I am sure he and his company still have a bright future ahead.

Blog Posting Number: 805

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