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Seybold delegates just say no to Adobe-Quark merger

No energy in movement to synergy

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It's a thumbs down by users to a merger between Adobe and Quark, to according several hundred attendees at a user session at the Seybold 98 publishing conference in San Francisco yesterday. No Adobe or Quark representatives were present, on legal advice, while Quark is trying to acquire Adobe. There was more sentiment for Adobe taking over Quark -- especially in view of the relative sizes of the companies. Adobe had 1997 revenues of $912 million, whereas Quark's undisclosed revenues are put in the $200 to $400 million range by analysts such as Suzanne Snygg of Dataquest. Any potential synergy from the a takeover -- which is looking increasingly unlikely in view of Quark's failure to name a price, and doubts as to whether it could raise more than $1.5 billion to pay a sufficient premium -- were likely to be dissipated by the need for Quark to divest itself of Adobe's PageMaker for antitrust reasons, even if its bid were successful. Opinion was divided as to whether Quark had made the bid because of the threat posed by Adobe's K2 technology for page layout, and demonstrated at the meeting for the first time. Steve Jobs, interim CEO of Apple, finished his keynote by reminding the audience that "you saw [K2] first on the Macintosh". There was criticism that both Adobe and Quark had fallen behind in providing support for web-based publishing. But when it came to customer service, Quark service was regarded by the user audience as poor or non-existent, whereas Adobe was praised: "they really do act like they're on a mission," said Michael Case of Hallmark, a customer of both companies. Meanwhile, Quark has announced that it has purchased, on undisclosed terms, a majority stake in German software developer and publishing specialist Silent GmbH. ®

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