August 24, 2010

Delrina- PC based Fax Business that was aquired by Symantec

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Delrina was a Canadian software company founded in Toronto in 1988 and acquired
by the American software firm Symantec in 1995. Delrina's business strategy was
to "establish technical and market leadership in niche markets", which it
accomplished with its electronic form and PC-based fax software. Delrina's
electronic form products included PerForm and FormFlow, but it was best-known
for its WinFax software package. WinFax enabled computers equipped with
fax-modems to transmit faxes to standalone fax machines or other similarly
equipped computers. Delrina also produced a set of popular screensavers,
including one that resulted in a well-publicized lawsuit for copyright and
trademark infringement (Berkeley Systems Inc. v. Delrina). The case set a
precedent in American law whereby satiric commercial software products are not
subject to the same First Amendment exemptions as parodic cartoons or

The firm grew steadily over the course of the early 1990s, with revenues from
WinFax amounting to 80% of the company's revenues. It attempted to diversify
into other areas such with online communications software with its WinComm
product and produced a Web browser called Cyberjack that ultimately could not
compete effectively in the emerging browser wars. The firm was sold to Symantec
in 1995. After the company was acquired by Symantec, various divisions were sold
off and several of Delrina's former executives went on to found venture capital

Delrina was founded in Toronto in 1988 by Zimbabwean expatriate Bert Amato,
South African expatriates Mark Skapinker and Dennis Bennie along with American
Lou Ryan. A year before the firm was incorporated, Amato and Skapinker had quit
their jobs to start work on an electronic forms product which would eventually
become PerForm. Both would latter meet with Bennie, who was then the Chief
Executive Officer of Carolian Systems International, a firm that made business
software for Hewlett-Packard. He arranged for an initial seed investment of $1.5
million CAD to create a new start-up company to develop this idea, which was
called "Delrina". In return, Carolian received 51% of Delrina's shares.

Delrina's initial corporate headquarters was located at 1945 Leslie Street in
Toronto. A sales office was initially set up in Buffalo, but was soon moved to
San Jose which became its worldwide sales center run by co-founder Lou Ryan.
From its Toronto headquarters, the company expanded by establishing branch
offices in Kirkland, Washington; Washington, DC; and Lexington, Massachusetts.
Other offices were later established in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

Acquisition by Symantec and aftermath

In late Spring 1995 Delrina Chairman Dennis Bennie met with Symantec CEO Gordon
Eubanks to discuss the possibility of merging the two firms. In September 1995
Delrina's founders—who owned a controlling interest in the firm—sold the firm to
Symantec in a stock deal worth $415 million US. The deal was first announced in
July 6 of that year, with shareholders from both firms approving the merger on
November 20. The merger was completed on November 22, 1995 and Delrina
officially became part of Symantec. The deal made the merged company the fifth
largest American software firm at the time. The firm became the "Delrina Group"
within Symantec, which brought under its control other communication software
products that belonged to the parent firm, such as pcAnywhere.

At its height the company employed more than 700 people worldwide, the majority
based in Canada. Symantec was following a general trend of large American firms
buying smaller Canadian software companies. Other contemporaneous examples
included: Softimage and Zoom-it bought by Microsoft, and Alias bought by Silicon

Both Dennis Bennie and Bert Amato resigned their positions at Delrina just under
a year later in May 1996, the former also resigning from Symantec's board of
directors at that time.

Parts of the company were subsequently sold off, such as the sale of Delrina's
Electronic Forms Division to JetForm in September 1996. JetForm, which later
changed its name to Accelio, was in turn bought by Adobe Systems. Adobe
officially discontinued the electronic forms products in 2004. Creative Wonders
bought the rights to the Echo Lake multimedia product, which was re-shaped as an
introductory program on multimedia and re-released as Family Album Creator.

Though the market for fax software would shrink significantly as the use of
email became more pervasive, WinFax brought in significant revenue for Symantec;
a year after the merger sales of fax software accounted for 10% of Symantec's

List of Delrina products

  • Electronic Forms Products

    • Delrina PerForm – October 1988

    • Delrina PerForm PRO – August 1990

    • Delrina PerForm Tracer - June 1991

    • Delrina PerForm PRO Plus - August 1992

    • Delrina FormFlow - October 1993

    • Delrina FormFlow 1.1 – June 1994

    • PerForm for Windows 3.0 – November 1994

  • Multimedia Products

    • The Far Side Daily Planner and Calendar Publisher 3.0 - September 1991

    • Delrina Intermission 4.0 Screen Saver - November 1990

    • Bill 'n' Opus ScreenSaver – November 1993

    • Opus 'n Bill On The Road Again Screensaver – September 1994

    • The Scott Adams Dilbert Screen Saver Collection – September 1994

    • Echo Lake – June 1995

  • Fax-related Products (released by Delrina)

    • WinFax 1.0 – December 1990

    • WinFax PRO 2.0 – June 1991

    • WinFax Lite - April 1992

    • DosFax Lite - April 1992

    • DosFax PRO 2.0 – June 1992

    • WinFax PRO 3.0 – November 1992

    • Delrina Fax PRO 1.5 for Macintosh – September 1993

    • WinFax PRO for Networks - November 1993

    • WinFax PRO 4.0 – March 1994

    • WinFax Scanner – 1994

    • WinFax PRO 7.0 – November 1995

  • Fax-related Products (released by Symantec)

    • WinFax PRO 7.5 (bundled with TalkWorks) – October 1996

    • WinFax PRO 8.0 (bundled with TalkWorks PRO) – March 1997

    • TalkWorks PRO 2.0 – August 1998

    • WinFax PRO 9.0 – August 1998

    • TalkWorks PRO 3.0 – August 1999

    • WinFax PRO 10.0 – February 2000

  • Online Communications Products

    • Delrina Communications Suite (WinComm and WinFax) – March 1993

    • WinComm (Standalone) – March 1994

    • Cyberjack – December 1995

    • CommSuite95 – December 1995

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