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Software Firm Redoubles Overseas Push

Software Firm Redoubles Overseas Push

Technology

by Christopher Keough

The $14 million equity investment received by Apriso Corp. will be plenty to carry the Long Beach software company to its planned, but as yet unscheduled, initial public offering, according to a company official.

Apriso, which makes software for managing manufacturing and logistics, generated $21 million in revenues in 2000 and is operating at break-even status, said Nelson Nones, director of global marketing. Revenue figures for 2001 won’t be available until the end of April.

The company, a spinoff of Teledyne Technologies Inc., has raised $29 million in two funding rounds using money from the first round to take the business international. The company now operates 13 offices in 12 countries, and the new round will help fund an expansion into China and deepen the company’s penetration in Europe and Japan.

Nones said Apriso will hire staff to work in three major areas: bolstering its international sales presence, creating a domestic “software factory” to more quickly market the company’s product, and creating relationships with consulting services.

The second round was led by 75 Wall Street Technology Partners LP, a New York-based fund of Dresdner Kleinwort Capital, and CMEA Ventures of San Francisco. The balance came from LogiSpring Investment Fund SA of Brussels and Brentwood Venture Capital of Los Angeles.

Calling Plan

Stephen Forte plans to cash in on call forwarding.

Forte’s Ascendent Telecommunications Inc. recently inked a $2.5 million deal with Nextel Communications, through which the wireless carrier will market Ascendent’s WirelessConnect products, allowing users to access established land lines via their cell phones.

It’s the first big deal for Ascendent, which has its roots in a wireless equipment company Forte and his brother, Phillip, started in 1993. In 1996, Forte introduced the WirelessConnect technology now at the core of the business.

At a basic level, Wireless Connect works like standard call forwarding available to residential and business phone users by linking cell phones to a company’s office phone system, also known as a PBX (private branch exchange). When an employee’s desktop phone rings, so will his or her cell phone.

Where the technology improves on that service is that once a part of the system, users can dial back into the corporate phone system and reach colleagues simply by dialing extensions.

The company holds 10 patents on the technology that was first installed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills in 1998. Once a hotel is wired with the firm’s hardware and software, a guest can be logged into the system. When the phone rings in the guest’s room it is bounced to the cell or other destination specified by the guest.

The company has marketing partnerships with Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless and Canadian wireless carrier TELUS Mobility.

Forte and his brother, who has left the firm on a day-to-day basis but retains a seat on its board, received $2 million from an unnamed angel investor in 1999. In 2000 they got another $6.5 million in venture capital in a funding round led by $4 million from Kline Hawkes & Co. of West Los Angeles and the balance from Forrest Binkley & Brown in Newport Beach.

Forte wouldn’t talk specifics on revenues, but said the company brought in less than $10 million last year and has been “eking toward profitability” for the last several months. He said that goal should be reached by the end of the year.

Pulling Up Stakes

Randy Levine and ZettaCore were in Los Angeles briefly, but it was long enough to develop what company officials hope will be the next step in computer memory: the molecular memory chip.

Soon after the 2-year-old business closed its first round of venture funding last month, Levine, its president and chief executive, moved the whole operation to Denver.

“We felt that Denver was a very good place to put a start up because of the talent pool there and the proximity to semiconductor manufacturers in Colorado Springs and Boulder,” he said.

Molecular memory chips, a hybrid of regular semiconductor electronics and special molecules use less power and are cheaper to produce than standard silicon semiconductors. The technology could be applied to cell phones, computers, cameras, cell phones, personal digital assistants and automobiles.

ZettaCore licensed the technology from a team of chemists and semiconductor engineers from University of California, Riverside and North Carolina State University.

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

ckeough@labusinessjournal.com.

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