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Air Patrol

Security is one of the biggest problems corporations face when installing wireless networks. One start-up hopes to capture the market by walling off WLANs.

Company: Network Chemistry

HQ: Menlo Park, CA

Founded:  2002

Management: Robert Markovich is CEO. He previously co-founded Visual Networks, a provider of network management software. He also founded The Hatch Group, an early stage venture capital firm. Dr. Christopher Waters is the chief technology officer. Prior to joining Network Chemistry, he co-founded Tazmen Technologies, a developer of personal firewall products.

Investors: On April 14, the company announced a $6 million Series A financing from Geneva Venture Partners, Innovacom, the investment arm of France Telecom, and In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA.

Business Model: The company develops monitoring and analysis systems that provide security and performance improvement of wireless local area networks (WLANs). Network Chemistry’s radio frequency appliances, which are placed at key physical locations in a network, monitor the wireless data that floats around a corporate network and look for unusual activity. The data collected by the radio frequency appliances is sent back to a central server for analysis and archiving. If intrusions or poor network performance are detected, alerts are sent out to network administrators. Network Chemistry claims it has 70 paying customers.

Competitors:  AirMagnet, AirDefense, AirTight

Dirt: Research firm In-Stat/MDR conducted a survey last year, which found that security was the number one concern for respondents that were considering deploying a WLAN. The same survey also found that security was the top priority for respondents that already had a WLAN. These findings cut both ways for Network Chemistry – companies clearly want WLAN security products, but they also need to achieve a level of comfort before they even establish a WLAN. Not to worry, Growth in the WLAN market hasn’t been a problem. The greater challenge for Network Chemistry will be to fend off the competitors that also see a burgeoning opportunity in helping enterprises secure their wireless networks.


From Naysayer to Cheerleader
Dot-com critics become CEOs – and other alarm:clock news from the land of private venture funding.

Spectators of the boom and bust cycle of the late ’90s might recall a popular website called Fuckedcompany.com, which chronicled the implosions of flailing tech ventures. The site was the brainchild of Philip Kaplan (aka Pud), a misanthrope who rode the dot-com crash to stardom by pleasing Schadenfreude-junkies everywhere.

Now, in a sure indication that the tech start-up market is on the mend, Kaplan is CEO of his own venture-funded start-up called AdBrite, a self-service Internet ad network that brings together buyers and sellers of ad space. For advertisers, AdBrite offers a network of websites with available inventory. Publishers sign up at AdBrite to make themselves available to these advertisers. Publishers can set their own ad rates, and approve or reject every ad that’s purchased for their site.

When you look at AdBrite’s list of publishers, you won’t recognize many them – and this could be a good thing. Unlike some of its competitors, which boast ad networks with name-brand publishers, AdBrite tends to offer access to lesser-known sites, but many of these sites have huge traffic and a good audience. Given the rebirth of Internet advertising, the market seems big enough to support lots of players – for now.

Helping to complete “Pud’s” transformation to credibility is the fact that his venture investor is Sequoia, which invested $4 million and has funded in other credible ventures such as Google and Yahoo.

Another area that’s attracting venture dollars into the tech start-up market is blog infrastructure, which is the tools and software used to create, publish, and promote blogs. Palo Alto, CA-based Five Across is touting a hosted blogging platform called Bubbler, which aims to make blog publishing easier and more media-rich.

One of the current challenges with blog publishing, at least for the average blogger, is figuring out how to easily upload different media formats to a blog. Bubbler allows posting of any kind of content into a blog, including audio, video, spreadsheets, and PDFs. Instead of updating blogs through a browser-based Web form, users post entries through a Bubbler desktop application. Five Across also plans to offer Bubbler as part of a workgroup suite that includes instant messaging and a group collaboration client. Adobe Ventures and Granite Ventures back the company.

If AdBrite and Bubbler are hot, Idiom Technologies is not. The Waltham, MA-based company sells software that helps managers of large corporate Web sites update content in multiple languages. At first blush, this appears to be a reasonable business, but venture capitalists have invested untold millions in this market with no return. Idiom has raised close to $50 million since its founding in 1998.

The pitch is that the Internet is global, so managing multilingual sites should be a big business. But most companies are decentralized and tend to let their country units manage their own sites, or they are like Google and just develop their own multilingual Web technology. The latest $6 million investment in Idiom strikes us as a bald attempt by its venture capitalists to keep the company afloat long enough for a sale so that they might recoup some of their losses. C’est la vie.

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