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Mendeley expands following £65 million acquisition

Clockwise from left: Paul Föckler (Mendeley), Olivier Dumond (Elsevier), Victor Henning and Jan Reichelt (Mendeley)

Mendeley, the London-based research collaboration tool, plan to aggressively expand after being acquired by Elsevier for a rumoured £65m

Co-founder and CEO Victor Henning told Tech City News that they will be expanding their team at Mendeley by 70% in the next 12-18 months, following an acquisition by education publisher Elsevier.

They are growing the company from around 50 current staff to 85, and most of the new hires will be involved in the development of their mobile division.

They will be focused on the release of an Android app – something the cloud-based research tool has yet to offer.

Mendeley is a research and collaboration tool for academics and organisations. It exists as both a desktop app and an online social network, and allows users to organise, annotate, and share research sources that all live in the cloud.

Neither Mendeley nor Elsevier were able to confirm the details of the acquisition, but it is rumoured that it is worth between £45 million and £65 million ($65 million and $100 million).

Handful of offers

Henning described the acquisition, unsurprisingly, as “amazing” – but being bought out wasn’t something the young team were focused on as a fledgling startup.

We had a handful of offers along the way, but Elsevier were the first ones to understand us.”

Robert Dighero – Partner at Passion Capital

He added: “When we started, we were just addressing a problem that we ourselves faced. Once we found a solution, we saw opportunities to do things with data, looking at real-time trends in academic research worldwide

Robert Dighero, partner at London-based venture capital firm Passion Capital – who are one of Mendeley’s pre-acquisition investors – said they were “thrilled to back the Mendeley team as one of our very first investments in 2011. We’re grateful to have been part of their journey so far.”

Obsessed with users

The marriage of Mendeley and Elsevier seems to have been a natural progression, and Henning points to a long history of collaboration between the two companies.

“We’ve worked with them since we started the company, but we only got serious about working with them in the last year.”

Olivier Dumond, one of the architects of the Mendeley deal told us that they are “obsessed with users and their needs.”

They clearly have their eyes focused on Mendeley’s analytics functions, adding: “Access to Mendeley’s library will give us an understanding of what people do with content.”

The acquisition has been reported to be positioning Elsevier firmly in the edtech arena, squaring up against Thomson Reuters who own EndNote.

But Dumond doesn’t see these competitors as a problem.

“Elsevier’s integration with Mendeley will be doing something pretty unique, and so we’re not worried about them.”

In the last year their user base has more than doubled, to 2.3 million users worldwide, and their bottom line has grown even more – they have tripled their revenues in the same period.

Watch a video introduction to Mendeley

More good news for London tech

The news of the acquisition comes just two weeks after Summly, another London-based startup, was bought by Yahoo for a reported £19 million.

Henning is quick to point at the help the Tech City scene has given them being based

“The tech scene was just getting started when we were starting up, but since it’s grown it’s given us a voice for what startups need in London.”

Robert Dighero added that the London tech scene could be seeing more of the same in the future.

“We absolutely believe that the [Tech City] cluster will continue to produce very strong companies attracting acquisition offers, or the possibility of public listings over the coming year.”

Future plans

So what does this mean for the future for Henning and his team apart from an Android app? Well, the tidy sum Elsevier have parted with means they can relax and not worry so much about monetisation for the time being.

“It means we can focus on building our user base and working on new features. We’re looking at a much improved search integration function that will seamlessly export content to Mendeley, and also some other secret R&D collaborations.”

Secret R&D eh? For the time being, all that Henning is willing to disclose to us is that they’re doing a lot of work around semantic analysis, as well as some improved recommendation features.