Last month, we agreed to be acquired by the global information analytics business that helps institutions and professionals advance healthcare, open science and improve performance for the benefit of humanity. We couldn’t have been more excited about it, but we needed to wait for customary conditions and regulatory consents to be completed.
I’m pleased to announce that the transaction is now closed, and Aries is officially part of Elsevier.
It wasn’t initially an easy decision to turn over the reins, but after having led the organization for more than 30 years, I always knew it was an eventuality. I learned a lot through the process, meeting with all sorts of potential buyers, none of whom provided the assurances I wanted when it came to not only retaining the business as an entity but really helping it reach its long-term potential.
That is, other than Elsevier, which we have worked closely for nearly 20 years, hosting their high-profile Cell Press portfolio and many society titles. The decision simply came down to how they emerged as the right strategic buyer and the most natural new home for Aries and the Aries team. Elsevier’s strategy has long been to combine content with leading technologies to help their users and customers succeed, and they wanted to bring in our team and capabilities to help achieve that. They admire the robust capabilities Aries has to create solutions to meet the needs of their evolving communities.
What it all comes down to is that Elsevier is the right partner at the right time, and I’m very pleased with how this has worked out.
I’ve seen a tremendous amount of advancement in publishing over my career. Prior to starting Aries in 1986, I worked with medical libraries that needed an alternative to online, Boolean-centric medical literature search services, which were expensive and largely unusable by researchers themselves. I saw the opportunity to develop and deliver search technology that could be put directly in the hands of the end-user researcher/clinician – natural language query with relevance-ranked results, running on personal computer and CD-ROM platforms.
After 18 months in my home basement and countless programming hours from me, Aries was born to deliver this solution. The technology was adapted from journal bibliographic data to full-text content, which provided an introduction for Aries to the mainstream scholarly publisher community, for whom CD-ROM and DVD-ROM technology was still a novelty. Uptake was rapid, and we soon grew into a multi-million dollar business.
At the same time, delivery technology transformed from disc technology to the Internet, and Aries quickly adapted the search-and-delivery solution to the online environment. In the late 1990s, a society publisher customer asked Aries to develop a peer-review workflow solution; in 2000, version 1.0 of Editorial Manager was born, reflecting much of Aries’ prior technology and market space experience. Since then, Aries has remained on the forefront of innovation for scholarly publishing workflow solutions.
I’ve spoken with many of our customers directly since this was announced, and the conversations have gone well, mainly because we’ve been able to assure them that it will remain business as usual for Aries. We will continue to serve all our customers well. The team is staying, including customer service. Elsevier is committed to providing the same strong and consistent service for both publishers and researchers as Aries provides today.
Our continued focus on the current technology roadmap and commitments will remain, and we will meet or exceed our annual technology spend with the goal of providing even better products and services.
We’re also setting up an advisory board. The details of this aren’t finalized, but Elsevier and I agree that Aries has long innovated in workflow technology, and going forward we’re going to be doing more of that. So we’ll need guidance from our customer communities to help us do that.
And importantly, Elsevier is committed to maintaining the data protections our customers have come to expect from Aries. All their data on Aries servers are siloed on databases allocated just to them.
I’m also staying with the business for the foreseeable future, and looking forward to focusing on strategic initiatives and supporting Jennifer Fleet, who will continue to oversee daily operations as the Chief Operating Officer.
What this all means is that Aries will become stronger. Aries has always been committed to delivering solutions that help publishers, editors and scholars enhance the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. With Elsevier, Aries will be better positioned with enhanced solutions and analytics to help our customers achieve their goals.
Bringing Aries’s focus on the provision of independent journal editorial systems together with Elsevier’s strengths in analytics will also ensure that all of Aries’s users are able to benefit from optimized editorial solutions and improved service.
The fit with Elsevier feels right. They’re looking at innovating peer review and better serving the community holistically, and they see not only our technology but also our people, culture and thought leadership as helping them accelerate their efforts. Elsevier sees the strong ability we have to innovate and bring to market those solutions the community needs to evolve, and it’s a great long-term home for Aries.