Deal With Military Vendor Boosts Software Developer

Christopher Keough

Enfish Corp., a Pasadena business software developer, has signed a deal with Air Force contractor Science Applications International Corp. that eventually could generate millions of dollars in license fees.

Enfish's Enterprise software works within a network to compile information from various applications (e-mail, word processing, Web site, desktop publishing, etc.) and present it in context on an individual's PC. So, when someone in Colorado changes the budget of a project, the update is automatic at the desktop of a team member in California.

Enfish Chief Executive Louise Wannier said the Air Force deal is the first of several in an ongoing relationship with SAIC. Deals between Enfish and SAIC will be phased in as SAIC gets government and commercial contracts.

Details of the contract were not disclosed, but Wannier said it would help put Enfish over the profitability hump by the end of this year. "They are the most important contractor in the defense sector," she said. "And they are very important to our company."

Outside spokesman Matthew Propst said that if SAIC continued to use Enfish software in its governmental contracts, the value could exceed $1 million.

Jim Belford, senior systems engineer with SAIC, said the Air Force is a client with the need to coordinate 100 people at 30 bases around the country. SAIC, a research and engineering company, chose Enfish Enterprise to organize projects and communications.

Enfish was founded in 1993 as a research and development effort, funded by an initial round of venture capital of $6.3 million. The company last year merged with KnowledgeTrack Corp., another business software application manufacturer, and is set to close a third round totaling $10 million.

Piling On

Disgruntled Idealab Inc. investors continued their assault on the struggling Pasadena incubator, amending the suit filed in January seeking $1 billion in returned investments and penalties, as well as liquidation of the incubator.

The amended action was filed Feb. 28 and, in addition to adding another 20 plaintiffs to the 20 already a party to the action, claims Idealab operates as a mutual fund and is therefore subject to more detailed disclosure requirements under the Investment Company Act of 1940.

Idealab has received an exemption from the act, but plaintiff's attorney Skip Miller said the company no longer qualifies for the exemption.

"We believe almost all that's left of Idealab is its investment in Overture," Miller said. "It's what's known as a bad asset. If you hold a lot of your securities in an asset you don't control and operate, it's an investment."

Overture Services Inc., which went public in 1999, is the one bona fide success to come out of Idealab.

Idealab spokeswoman Teresa Bridwell said the charges of violating the SEC exemption are baseless. She said Idealab endured an 18-month process to earn the exemption, which it no longer needs. Idealab has never hidden the location of its assets, she said. The company reported, as of Jan. 31, cash and marketable securities of $381 million and estimated private securities between $150 million and $300 million.

Mickey Money

Walt Disney Co.'s little-known venture capital arm, Steamboat Ventures, recently placed its first investment, a $2 million bet on a Redwood City Web content security company.

Steamboat Managing Director John Ball said through a spokesman that the company would not comment on the investment in Gilian Technologies, a Web content security firm. Disney officials also declined comment.

Gilian Technologies makes a product called G Server, which validates content before it is displayed in a Web browser. If the content is corrupted or counterfeit, G Server intercepts it.

Staff reporter Christopher Keough can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 235, or at

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