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MAID plc and The Dialog Corporation





Dan Wagner founded the online information company MAID in 1984, the name being an acronym of - Market Analysis Information Database. This was five years before Sir Tim Berners Lee presented the concept of the World Wide Web in CERN, eight years before www was introduced as an addressing system for the internet and 11 years before Amazon started its business. In order to make the service available for the market, Dan had to create systems to take payment for information (eCommerce) and devise technology to interrogate content (search) – none of these technologies were available at the time.


By 1985, the first version of the online service was available to customers. By providing a simple menu interface providing access to an aggregation of some of the best known market research publishers and trade publications in the UK, MAID was able to provide customers with the ability to interrogate them all simultaneously via a computer and a telephone line. At the time, online services were in their infancy (as was the personal computer) and as a result the service was delivered at a speed of 3 kbs (typical broadband speeds today are 700 kbs).  

In 1994, MAID was listed on the London Stock Exchange and in 1995 floated on NASDAQ. During the 1990s, MAID more doubled its market value every year as a result of fast sales growth and numerous strategic alliances starting with a deal in 1995 with Microsoft to provide much of the content for their online service MSN. This was followed by distribution deals with CompuServe, IBM and BT.  

In November 1997, MAID acquired Knight Ridder Information which owned many international professional databases including Dialog Information Services in the United States and DataStar in Europe, and renamed the new group The Dialog Corporation. Dialog was now the global market leader in Online Information representing 26% of the world market and had 1,500 employees in 46 offices around the world.  

Following the acquisition of Dialog, a major licensing deal was concluded with Fujitsu of Japan providing them with the rights to utilise Dialog's core search technology (InfoSort). This sort of technology licensing deal from the West to the East was unprecedented at the time.  

In March 2000, Dialog's Information Services Division was sold to The Thomson Corporation of Canada (now known as Thomson Reuters) for $500m.

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