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Thousand Oaks Company Offers Virtual IT Service

Information technology is one of those topics many executives don’t care to think about unless they’re forced to, when, for example, the computer doesn’t turn on one morning.

That’s the clientele Thousand Oaks-based Cloudworks is seeking.

While it’s common for companies such as Salesforce.com to host single applications, Cloudworks is one of a few companies that offer a comprehensive IT network online.

It works like this: Employees log on to Cloudworks’ site with a password and get a screen that leads them on to a network. They can send and receive e-mails, write memos, create spreadsheets and build PowerPoint presentations as they would on any Microsoft application. The virtual network is custom-built for that company, and employees access and store information entirely on Cloudworks’ servers.

“We’re the IT department,” said Mike Eaton, chief executive of Cloudworks. “Instead of having servers down the hall, we take all that away and run everything in our data center. All you need is a Web browser.”

The system is saving one client of 300 employees $200,000 a year in IT costs, Eaton said.

Cloudworks automatically upgrades software applications to the latest versions on the market and equips the system with virus protection. Users can also access the network with any mobile device.

Cloudworks is only seven months old, but has about 300 clients. That’s because its consulting division, Atticus, has been around for 11 years. The bootstrapped company has about 25 employees.


Fixer-Upper

ECarServices.com, which launched last week, aims to bring the kind of price transparency to the auto repair market as CarsDirect.com did for car dealers.

“Until now, there hasn’t been a trusted broker between mechanics and consumers,” said founder Paul Kim. “It’s virtually impossible to negotiate, because right now there’s no way for a consumer to figure out if an estimate is in the right ballpark.”

The site features an “estimator,” or a calculator that gives estimates for 25 of the most common service jobs on about 7,000 different vehicles. The database includes 180,000 estimates.

Kim acknowledges that its database isn’t fully formed, but said the company is in the process of raising funds to strengthen its technology.

The site also features “Ask Tommy,” where users can ask questions about auto repairs to Tommy Lee, a mechanic of 15 years and an investor in the site. Kim hopes to offer this service as a real-time chat function.

ECarServices will rely on advertising for revenue, but the goal is also to become a lead generation company for mechanics.

Kim, who previously worked in the finance industry at Morgan Stanley and IndyMac, has three employees.


Deep Background

Fetch Technologies Inc. has been probing the “deep Web” with its artificial-intelligence search technology for nearly a decade.

Developed with funding from NASA, the Air Force and others, its algorithms can lead users to resources most search engines can’t. The goal is to offer services to businesses that want to aggregate data on the Internet without having a team of programmers on staff.

Its new division is called Fetch Footprint. It will be devoted to helping companies leverage the Web to vet employment candidates. The goal of the division is to sell the service to a wider base.

“This is our first commercial endeavor to repackage our technology,” said Jerry Thurber, division president. “While most employers routinely Google candidates as part of the hiring process, Fetch Footprint goes substantially deeper. It is designed to parse data that’s relevant to hiring decisions.”

Using its deep Web search technology, Fetch can access candidate data from government information sources and social and professional network posts online. For now, the data will be sold to the background-check market. In two years, the company hopes to offer its services on FetchFootprint.com, where users can run the search themselves.

In addition to providing the tool for human resource management, Fetch plans on serving the sectors of credit check services and tenant screening.


High Flying

Row 44 Inc., a Westlake Village startup that offers broadband access at 35,000 feet above ground, has raised $21 million in equity investment.

The company develops an in-flight Wi-Fi system deployable in portable hardware for aircrafts. It is currently being used in trials by Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

The latest round of funding led by PAR Capital Investment will be used to bring the firm’s operations to other countries. Row 44 is headed by John Guidon, who founded Comcore Semiconductor, which was sold to National Semiconductor for $150 million in 1998.


Staff reporter Booyeon Lee can be reached at

blee@labusinessjournal.com

or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 230.

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