The rumor mill has it that Elsevier is in advanced talks to buy Science 2.0 fave Mendeley, a platform academics use to collate PDFS and share research and collaborate via a social network (and a terrific company all the way around, in my opinion).
TechCrunch says that the sale might close by the end of February and could be in the region of $100 million. But they also say Mendeley has closed a recent round of funding for ~<$10 million. The company has only publicly disclosed raising $2 million.
That raising-more-money-and-selling-the-company part makes less sense. Early investors don't take dilution to raise more money and then sell the company for 10X of their now diluted investment - they just cost themselves a fortune doing so. Investors instead agree to raise money to run the company and expand to a point where it is self-funded.
That said, consolidation is going to happen. For as much as the science community claims to like independence, the overall culture is really geared toward corporations and government in modern times. Big companies and government funding mean legitimacy. Mendeley giving away a product and hoping people pay for a dashboard is a tough business model when Generation Y has been taught that everything should have no cost but they have done quite well, especially if the revenue is high enough to entice the world leader in science media to buy you out. That's a testament to their devotion to the science community.
“We don’t comment on rumors,” Mendeley’s CEO and co-founder Victor Henning told Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch. I'd write him and ask but he's a CEO in the middle of a sale, he is playing things close to the vest, so he would give me the same answer - well, maybe he would be funnier writing back to me. However, when things are just rumors the response is more like laughter and 'this is the first I am hearing of it' - so it looks like congratulations are in order. Hopefully it is so far along it is just lawyers talking the details, because making the devoted user base vibrate with news of a large corporate acquisition would otherwise be a negative. If the deal is not settled, Elsevier could start negotiating its way down. Once the word is out you are being sold, you have to be sold - you can't raise more money.
The good news is that, despite the loud claims that will result in the short term, the bulk of academics will be more inclined to use something owned by Elsevier - start-ups can go out of business but Elsevier is not going away.
And congratulations to Elsevier also. With dozens of open access journals on their roster, they are showing they also intend to be a serious player in science media of the 21st century and both Mendeley and Victor are real gems that can help them lead the way.
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