For three decades, Silverchair has changed the way that scientists, doctors, and researchers discover and use expert research. Since our founding in 1993, Silverchair’s products and services have evolved in concert with the needs of our clients and the markets they serve.
The Early DaysThe company began as a packager for medical textbooks, changing shape over time as the then-specter of the internet took shape and as its place in the realm of scholarly publishing became slowly more clear. This incremental change and evolving vision has become a part of Silverchair’s fabric, and we continue to value the agility that allows us to expand into new markets and seize new opportunities.
When it came time to name the company, Co-Founders Thane Kerner & Elizabeth Willingham thought of one of Thane's favorite book series—The Chronicles of Narnia—and in particular the fourth book (The Silver Chair), whose themes of essential persistence in the fog of mistakes and errors he found to be powerful not only on a personal level, but also as a grounding source of inspiration for the fledgling company. The inspiration still weaves its way through the company, both in team names (e.g. Narnia) and building locations (e.g. Cair Paravel).
(Aside for music fans: Silverchair the band came later, once we'd already secured the domain name, etc., but it has led to some confusion, including an application for an Editorial Assistant position from someone who listed as one of his qualifications that he had been an office manager for Soundgarden—he didn’t get the job.)
Silverchair's location in Charlottesville, Virginia distinguishes it as a technology provider in our industry. The company was originally located in Thane Kerner’s apartment in the Old Michie Building on Market Street, and moved in to the Milgraum Center on the downtown pedestrian mall in early 1995. In 2009, the company moved into the current headquarters in Charlottesville's historic Hardware Store building. In 2020 we shifted to virtual and eventually transformed into a fully hybrid organization (read more about that journey here).
The Evolution of Digital ProductsDuring Silverchair’s early days, various tech developments and the internet were taking shape, and it was unclear what those things meant for the scholarly publishing world in general. Silverchair’s first digital offering was Neurology in Clinical Practice (produced by Butterworth Heinemann). The textbook was one of BH’s top sellers and was re-released about every five years. In 1997 they asked to add the option for a digital edition (then taking the shape of a CD-ROM), but the format provided little added content (no hyperlinking, etc.), while presenting a significant amount of additional work and cost.
So in collaboration with BH, Silverchair decided to put the digital edition on the internet instead, conceptualizing the product and the access model to fit the new format. As the answer to the question of "what is the Internet going to do and become" came into focus, Silverchair’s involvement in the shaping of the business model (in addition to the software development) was crucial. The benefits of the new format included the addition of hyperlinks, an updating program for authors, and more.
Neurology in Clinical Practice - Silverchair's first online product offering
The Silverchair PlatformIn 2010—in response to requests from our clients who perceived that there was a need in the marketplace for a hosting solution that could truly integrate content sets across a diverse portfolio of content formats—Silverchair began development of the most significant platform upgrade in company history. The result was the Silverchair Content Manager Version 6 (SCM6), now The Silverchair Platform, which has been iteratively developed and market-tested since its creation.
The Silverchair Platform provides distinctive online sites, unique products, and advanced technologies to some of the most accomplished names in scholarly and professional information, propelling their content to greater reach and impact.
With new code releasing every three weeks, the platform has evolved and expanded exponentially since its first launch, with robust self-serve publisher tools, industry-leading standards, and an extensive feature list. Silverchair's capacity for experimentation and exploration has produced a continuous stream of new ideas—trying different approaches and growing with the changes in the market.
Looking AheadIn 2022, Silverchair received a major growth investment from Thompson Street Capital Partners, supporting the further acceleration and development of new products for the scholarly publishing market and beyond.
Since then, Silverchair has announced ambitious new programs to enable its publishers to compete, grow, and thrive in an increasingly complex commercial environment. The company aspires to promote a broad and diverse ecosystem of knowledge creators and communicators by equipping them with unconflicted, neutral technology infrastructure, tools, and services.
In the coming years, Silverchair will continue to extend its capabilities to integrate and unify research, reference, education, professional training and development, decision-support, and events outputs into a universal audience experience, allowing knowledge producers to deliver far greater value to their customers and stakeholders.
The flexibility to pivot and evolve (and the creativity, knowledge, and skill needed to do so) is a key part of what Silverchair is and does, and it is one of many qualities we celebrate as we look back at the last 30 years.