Monday, March 25, 2002

Cerylion draws investors, eyes customers

Published in Interface Tech News

WOBURN, Mass. ‹ Surpassing its own expectations for second-round fund-raising, Cerylion raised $7.6 million ‹ $2.5 million more than it had projected ‹ from investors supporting its development of what the company calls "personal Web services" for wireless communications networks.

The new funding will be used to increase marketing efforts and continue research and development, according to company CEO Ilan Rozenblat. The company's R&D section is primarily in Israel, where Rozenblat got his start in the technology sector.

The basic thrust of the company's services are connections between specific events and activities. The company's example is that booking a flight could trigger automatic rental-car and hotel reservations and e-mail notes to people at the destination asking for meetings.

Cerylion's major customer prospects are mobile telephone companies, but the company has only one major customer at present,, an AOL-TimeWarner subsidiary based in southern Louisiana.

Rozenblat said the company is hoping for an "upsell" to other AOL-TimeWarner companies, and is also targeting Verizon Wireless in the tier-one range of mobile services companies. But most of the prospects, he said, are tier-two, in keeping with the company's philosophy of moving in small steps.

"We are building a sustained business for the long run," Rozenblat said.

The challenge, according to Delphi Group senior analyst Larry Hawes, is two-fold. The space is ill-defined, Hawes said, and may be heading in another technological direction: wireless Web services.

"Web services is quickly becoming more accepted," Hawes said. That makes Cerylion's technology harder to sell, even though Hawes thinks it is actually better at relating objects to each other.

Hawes said the company primarily needs customers, and needs to expand its growth beyond the word-of-mouth means it has relied on so far.

With an early-March launch of a new version of its suite, and with the additional capital injection, the company said it is ready to take on the marketing challenge.