Adobe buys e-signature vendor

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Adobe, the publisher of Photoshop and Acrobat software, has bought electronic signature company EchoSign.

EchoSign develops web-based electronic signature and signature automation technology. The company, which is based in Palo Alto, California, already works with software vendors such as and NetSuite, so that users of those applications do not have to fall back to signatures on paper documents, or faxes. Adobe plans to integrate the technology into its electronic document systems, primarily based around Acrobat.

Building in support for e-signatures will also allow businesses using Adobe's electronic document exchange tools to do so without having to revert to paper. Initially, Adobe plans to integrate EchoSign into its FormsCentral, SendNow and CreatePDF software.

EchoSign provides electronic signatures through a cloud-based service, so there is no need for users to install additional software; users pay for the service through a subscription.

"By adding electronic signature capabilities to Adobe's document exchange services platform, we will be addressing the need to provide better customer experiences by significantly reducing the time, cost and complexity associated with having a document signed," said Kevin Lynch, who heads Adobe's digital enterprise solutions division.

"Adobe has always provided foundational technology for e-signatures, but they did not have a real SaaS [software as a service] offering" commented Gregg Kreizman, research director for secure business enablement at Gartner. "There is a clear trend to use SaaS based offerings over enterprise on-premises products in many market segments."

"Any enterprise with business processes requiring signatures can potentially improve process completion times, potentially save money, and more easily demonstrate compliance when e-signatures augment these processes" he added. "Large enterprises with many complex business processes and disparate infrastructures may still favour on-premises solutions, but as SaaS offerings expand in functionality, and as comfort with using these service grows, enterprises will adopt SaaS more."

Financial details of the deal were not released, but EchoSign's existing staff will join Adobe.