Global publishing group Elsevier has acquired London-based start-up Mendeley, with whom it has had a collaboration since 2009, in a move that has already generated some controversy.
Reports put the sum paid at $100m (£65m).
Mendeley runs an online platform for academics to share research and journals. It was founded in 2008 by three PhD students who wanted to develop an easier way to manage research papers and collaborate with colleagues overseas. They developed an app that could turn collections of PDFs into searchable research paper databases by extracting metadata and keywords.
Elsevier managing director of academic and government research markets Oliver Dumon said: "Mendeley is an innovative company with great culture, talent and collaborative spirit, and we will keep it that way. Not only that, but together we intend to scale and evolve Mendeley in ways that benefit the entire research community.
"We will provide greater access to content, data, and analytics tools to Mendeley's users and its flourishing third-party app ecosystem, all of which will enable us to increase both
Elsevier's and Mendeley's engagement with researchers."
Mendeley co-founder and c.e.o. Victor Henning said: "Our vision is to make science more collaborative and open, and now we have the support of the world's largest science information provider, whose resources will enable us to accelerate our progress towards this vision."
However a number of Mendeley users have reacted negatively to news of the deal, with academics speaking out on social network Twitter, using the hashtag #mendelete. Many expressed sceptism over whether Mendeley will remain open since Elsevier gained a reputation for being against open access to research as it supported the failed anti-piracy legislation Stop Online Piracy Act.
Senior researcher at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society David Weinberger, who is also co-director of the university's Library Innovation Lab, tweeted: "The thought of trusting @Elsevier with detailed info about my reading habits is, well, repulsive" and said he would be opting out of Mendeley from now on. Mendeley's director of academic outreach William Gunn responded to the criticism, and tweeted: "We at Mendeley still think openness is our sine qua non. Nothing has changed here."
Elsevier's first move will be to increase the platform's Freemium offer. The free storage level has expanded from one gigabyte to two, and the amount of storage provided in the premium levels has also increased. The Mendeley Institutional Edition (MIE) will continue to be available for institutions.
The acquisition extends the collaboration between the two companies that began in 2009, with Elsevier referring users to Mendeley, inviting Mendeley to build apps on ScienceDirect using its open APIs, and sponsoring Mendeley's Science Online London conferences on Open Science.