UK Web Start-Up Wins $5 Million From VC Firm

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Commtag, a British start-up based in Cambridge, England, has raised $5 million from Amadeus Capital Partners, to continue development of its flagship product, unplug + play, which is due on the market early next year.


The company's founders -- Ran Mokady, Guy Larri and Bridget Kerle -- raised $1 million in seed money last June. This is the first round of venture capital funding, Larri said.


"The way we achieved funding was due to a combination of the venture capital firm buying into our vision of what we are trying to achieve with this product and the strength of the management team," Larri said.


Mokady, the CEO, founded STNC, one of the first British companies to "do small Web browsers for portable Internet devices," Larri said. Mokady sold STNC to Microsoft in 1999. As a result, Larri said, "he was a known quantity to investors."


Larri's background includes 12 years with high-tech companies, including ARM, which grew from 25 employees to 500 during his tenure. Kerle spent a decade at a major United Kingdom law firm specializing in commercial law.


The post dot-com meltdown period, Larri said, "is actually a great time to invest. A lot of good people have been laid off, so they become easier and cheaper to hire. And now is the time to put money into technology with a future.


"SMS [short message service] is the most successful wireless application and it … is big on the youth market," he said. "The mobile phone is the next frontier in Europe and Japan. We're looking at a future where mobile device penetration will hit three units per person.


"Unplug + play is software that goes into mobile units and allows people to share all kinds of data when apart. It can be used in phones, digital cameras, MP3 players and, if you have Bluetooth facility, on your PC."


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