Tech Sector Increases Horsepower

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A common question these days is how will the slowing U.S. economy impact venture investments?

Will promising technology companies be able to attract the capital they need to successfully develop their teams and their products to bring them to market?

A recent flurry of investment and recruitment activity suggests that, yes, good business ideas are finding success. To demonstrate, here’s a look at three Victoria-based tech companies and their recent accomplishments.

AERS
After recently bringing on Fred Speckeen as their new CEO, Victoria-based e-commerce research and analytics leader Advanced Economic Research Systems Ltd. (AERS), announced the closing of $1 million for its round of private equity funding.

“In a few short years, its increasing market share, consistent earnings, and strong management have culminated in securing AERS the trust of new investors. We are extremely pleased to have successfully completed this round of our funding strategy,” says Ian H. Stewart, Q.C. and AERS board chair. Since 2005, AERS has raised close to $3 million in start-up financing from private investors to develop a suite of products designed to harvest the wealth of consumer activity information on the world’s largest e-commerce platform.

Commenting on the deal, Fred Speckeen, AERS president and CEO explains, “This fundraising wraps up at a great time for us following the recent successful debut of our Financial Analyst Dashboard ŒSectorView at the O’Reilly Money: Tech Conference on Wall Street and the launch of our highly refined Terapeak 5.0 web solution that uncovers strategies and products to maximize profits for anyone selling on eBay. Further, we’ve just completed a record month, generating the highest revenues and subscriber monthly growth in the history of the company. Through our real-time Terapeak and Dataunison branded products, AERS is fulfilling the increasingly urgent business and consumer information needs of a worldwide market.”

AERS plans to allocate the money to further raise its levels of customer service and product innovation, making superior products and services to help data-driven and information-driven businesses become more effective.

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Enquisite, Inc.
A developer and provider of the next generation of search analytics solutions, Enquisite, Inc., announced that it secured $3.2 million in Series A funding. The investment was led by Jeff Webber, managing director of The Entrepreneurs Fund III, a Silicon Valley-based, early-stage venture fund focussed on Web 2.0 Software start-ups.

“Enquisite leapfrogs traditional web analytics tools with its highly effective focus on search analytics,” said Webber. “We chose to fund Enquisite because its products and services benefit not only search marketing professionals, but also the entire search industry by providing tools that further optimize search.”
Founded in 2006, Enquisite, Inc. has a user base of 4,500 and growing. The company also recently opened its new headquarters in the Veronica Building, located at 649 Mission Street near the Moscone Center in the heart of downtown San Francisco.

At the time, Enquisite announced that the Series A funding would be used primarily to build out Enquisite’s sales and marketing teams and further support development of new features and products. Just a few days later, they delivered by announcing the successful recruitment of Mark Hoffman as their CEO and company chairman.

Prior to joining Enquisite, Hoffman served as CEO of Everdream, the leading SaaS (Software as a Service) desktop management software company acquired by Dell in December, 2007. Hoffman also previously held the role of CEO and chairman of Commerce One, a company widely credited with setting the software standards for the e-commerce industry. Before his work at Commerce One, Hoffman was already considered a pioneer in the e-commerce industry. He co-founded database technology company Sybase in 1984, guiding the business from start-up to the sixth largest independent software maker in the world when he departed in 1996.

Also joining Hoffman are web analytics and search marketing industry veterans Dan Robbins and Sylvie Moreau. Robbins was most recently director of marketing for ClickTracks Analytics, where he was responsible for all marketing, demand generation, and branding efforts. Moreau is a seasoned sales and business development professional with 15 years of experience in the hardware and software industries. As the director of international sales at TGV Software, Moreau was instrumental in the company’s successful IPO and, later, its acquisition by Cisco Systems.

“Mark, Dan, and Sylvie bring such a variety of strengths and talents to the Enquisite team,” says Richard Zwicky, founder and president of Enquisite, Inc. “With Mark’s experience at the helm of some of the industry’s most successful and respected companies, combined with Dan and Sylvie’s intimate knowledge of the nuances of the search marketing space, Enquisite is uniquely positioned to dominate the search analytics sector.”

Flock
A social web browser that helps users connect, share, and discover the best of the modern web, Flock delivers a more personal web experience by gathering and displaying users updates and changes to accounts on popular services like Facebook, YouTube, Flick, and Digg all in one place.

Founded and headquartered in California, the development team and VP of engineering are all based in Victoria, and they have been very busy adding product enhancements including Digg and Pownce channels and preparing an updated version to take advantage of the advancements in the latest version of the Firefox browser.

All of this effort is paying off in more ways than one. After recently receiving two VIATeC Technology awards for Newsmaker of the Year and Online Strategy of the Year, the international accolades rolled in with Flock winning a Webby Award for social networking, the SXSW Community Award, and a listing as #6 in PC World’s 100 Best Products of 2008.

Added to all this praise is the recent announcement of $15 million in venture funding led by Fidelity Ventures, which brings the total investment in the firm up to $30 million.

It is certain that Victoria technology companies are closely linked with the U.S economy and that changes in exchange rates or a slowing of economic growth will have an impact. Nonetheless, it is assuring to see that good ideas can attract the investment and the talent they need to develop their products and take them to the global marketplace.