Trident Capital Inc.

Specialty: Information and business services in the expansion stage

Capital Under Management: $250 million

Amount Invested in 1996: $50 million

Silicon Valley doesn't have all the venture capital cards, according to Todd Springer, vice president of Trident Capital Inc.

"There is a big multimedia component which L.A. is good for," Springer said. "While there are more opportunities in Northern California, there are also a lot more venture capital firms, so it's nice for us here that there's not so many."

The firm, which has offices in Los Angeles, Menlo Park and Chicago, invests in businesses that move, organize and store information.

"The demand and uses for information products are increasing," Springer said. "There are many fast-growing markets (that) we're investing in. The need for things like data mining and online and Internet applications is opening this up."

All three offices specialize in farming local investments, though their nets are cast much farther.

One of the Trident L.A. office's investments, Springer said, is Denver-based CSG Systems Inc., which contracts with cable television companies to perform "back office" functions like billing pay-per-view programming.

Until 1994, CSG was a division of the credit card processing firm First Data Corp. Attracted by a growing market for billing services, Trident worked with the division's management to conduct a leveraged buyout.

Trident invested $15 million in the transaction, its upper limit for investing in companies. CSG went public in February of last year, and Trident has so far distributed about a third of the stocks to investors.

Four friends and associates with long histories in finance and investment formed Trident in 1993 and are now its general partners. General partner Rockwell Schnabel was president of the Bateman, Eichler, Hill, Richards Group. He was also the Acting Secretary of Commerce and Deputy Secretary of Commerce during the Bush Administration and was the U.S. Ambassador to Finland during President Reagan's second term.

Springer said the firm focuses on later stage investments because those firms have assets and revenues whereas early stage investments with no revenues take as much or more time to manage.

Wade Daniels

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