3-D Firm Goes Overseas for Cash Infusion

by Christopher Keough

Finding U.S. public markets hard to crack, Santa Monica-based Dynamic Digital Depth Inc. took its quest to the London Stock Exchange and came back with $10 million.

Shares of DDD, as the company is commonly called, began trading on Jan. 3 at the equivalent of 94 cents and last week it was at $1.10. Lead underwriters of the U.K. offering were Schroder Investment Management and Merrill Lynch.

Founded in 1993, DDD develops technology for viewing 3-D images without special glasses. The technology is used on LCD and plasma displays.

Mostly the company has been successful selling to defense technology companies for 3-D topographical mapping and marketing companies for outdoor advertising and trade show exhibits.

Chris Yewdall, president and chief executive, said the $10 million would help market and commercialize the technology that was originally developed for oil and gas exploration.

The company has its roots in Perth, Australia, where it was founded as Xenotech. It changed its name to DDD in 1998 when it moved its headquarters to Santa Monica.

Before the UK IPO, DDD had been operating largely on the largess of New York investors Elliott & Associates and Motorola Broadband, which had provided $4 million in seed money.

DDD has 40 employees in Australia and Santa Monica, Yewdall said.

The company's glasses-free 3-D technology was on display during the most recent holiday shopping season at Warehouse Music in Beverly Connection shopping center. Yewdall said it would be the middle of the decade before the technology makes its way into living rooms.

Global Round

A Torrance semiconductor firm, Global Communication Semiconductor Inc., has landed $17.5 million in its fourth round of venture funding.

Owen Wu, president and chief executive, said the round should carry the company to profitability and an eventual initial public offering. Wu, formerly of Hughes Electronics Corp., founded Global in 1997.

Global is a compound semiconductor foundry, meaning it puts customers' designs on computer chips. The company specializes in the wireless telecommunication and high-speed networking industries.

Lead investors in the round were TCW/YFY Investment Partners Ltd. of Taiwan, which manages $710 million in the U.S. and Asia.

Bill Vitez, director of marketing and sales, said it wasn't that hard to secure the money, but in better times would have sought a bigger pot.

Better Than Cash?

It's not cash money, but the head of Santa Monica technology brokers RampRate LLC believes he has landed something better.

Tony Greenberg, founder and chief executive, said an agreement with Minneapolis-based Tier 1 Research will create a new model for outsourcing Internet services. "We're really changing the food chain for how people buy these millions of dollars worth of services," Greenberg said.

RampRate is a consulting company that helps companies manage negotiations for Web hosting, co-location, content delivery, streaming media, managed services and bandwidth. Tier 1 houses a database of those services, which has been used by financial institutions considering investment or merger and acquisition activity.

By combining forces, Greenberg said, RampRate and Tier 1 will be able to cut by a third the cost and time involved in connecting clients with service providers and negotiating for those services. RampRate gets paid by IT service vendors when it refers clients.

Greenberg refused to discuss the agreement with Tier 1, but the benefits to RampRate are access to Tier 1's online databases, which in turn will be enhanced with information RampRate's providers.

Greenberg likened the alliance to the 2000 merger of Jupiter Communications, which provided analysis of the Internet and new media industries and Media Metrix, which tracked Internet traffic.

Venture Adventure

Further evidence that there is venture capital out there to be had comes from Chatsworth-based 101communications LLC, which announced a new round of equity funding led by Chicago-based Frontenac Co.

The company, which specializes in business-to-business media for Internet technologies and IT vendors, declined to disclose the amount of the funding round.

Staff reporter Christopher Keough can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 235 or at ckeough@labusinessjournal.com.

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