Dell Inc.

has followed

Oracle Corp., Google Inc.

, and other big computer-based companies that have expanded to the Philadelphia area by buying specialized local firms.

"We weren't looking to sell," Bob Moul, chief executive officer of Boomi Inc., said after Dell confirmed it was buying the Berwyn business-software-maker.

Boomi had been negotiating since early this year on a deal to refer Dell clients. Boomi hooks up business-enterprise software made by Oracle, SAP AG, and other giant companies, to new applications such as Salesforce sales-data software, and does so cheaply and quickly.

Dell executives were soon trooping from the company's Texas headquarters to Boomi's Berwyn Park office to talk about the deal. "Next thing, they wanted to acquire us," and Dell founder Michael Dell was on the phone, talking details with Moul and Boomi founder Rick Nucci.

"He's very excited," Moul said of Dell. "He loves the disruptive nature of what we do," which bypasses legacy big-company software fixes to offer more efficient Web-based or "cloud" service.

Michael Dell started spilling details of the deal at an industry gathering, fueling rumors that Dell was about to buy a bigger company and forcing Tuesday's disclosure of the Boomi purchase.

Ten-year-old Boomi was started by Nucci. Moul joined the company from Boomi's board in 2005. He'd previously run SCT, the college-software firm that's now a part of Wayne-based SunGard Data Systems Inc.

Instead of cutting Boomi's 40 workers (30 in the Philadelphia area, 10 in the San Francisco area), Dell is getting ready to expand here, Moul says: "They wanted to make sure we had a good long-term lease." That's because Dell is seeking expansion space in the building Boomi occupies at Brandywine Realty Trust's Berwyn Park development.

"The cool thing is, we're kind of the nucleus of a newly forming software group at Dell," Moul said. "It's all about what we have to do to grow, as Dell moves into the 'cloud.' "

Internet fight

"

AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc.

, and cable companies led by

Comcast Corp.

might find it easier to block Internet-service regulations with

Republicans

in charge of the U.S. House," Bloomberg L.P.'s

Todd Shields

reported Wednesday.

Julius Genachowski, boss of the Federal Communications Commission, has been considering "Net neutrality" proposals, favored by Google and other heavy online users, that would make it tougher for Internet-service providers like Comcast to charge some users more than others.

Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas), likely next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told Shields one of the first things he'd do in that job is to force the FCC "to explain why it thinks the Internet needs federal government regulation" that it has gotten along without so far.

Foamex wars

I explained last week how Media-based

FXI-Foamex Innovations

hopes to expand under

CEO John G. "Jack" Johnson Jr.

, the Philadelphia native (and

Drexel

grad) who ran the company until 2001, and again since 2007.

Johnson told me he left Foamex because he and debt-fueled Foamex chairman Marshall Cogan didn't see eye to eye. Cogan wasn't available last week when I called his New York home and office, but he got back to me Wednesday to give his version:

"Jack Johnson was fired because he did something behind the board of directors' back and negotiated the sale of the company" to private-equity investor Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc., Cogan told me. The deal didn't close, and "I asked the board to release him," Cogan said. Then Cogan left Foamex, which he had created from a Scott Paper Co. unit and built to a $1-billion-plus foam producer with dozens of plants.

Cogan resents the way my column associated him with the shutdown-and-layoff mentality that followed the leveraged-buyout boom his old firm helped pioneer: In deals he did personally, with his own money, "I never laid off anyone," he protested.

Johnson says Cogan overloaded Foamex with debt, a big factor in its two bankruptcies and the sale or closure of many of its operations. Johnson says FXI's current, debt-free state, on his watch, "speaks for itself."