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South Bay tech firm picks Marin – The lure of Hamilton Landing's hangars

NOVATO - ClairMail, a developer of mobile access software solutions, is out of stealth mode and settled into a Hamilton Landing hangar. The one-year-old venture-backed company was founded by Silicon Valley software veterans. But they chose to grow the operation in Marin County rather than the South Bay, where most of their investors are located, according to ClairMail CEO Joseph Salesky.

Initially bridge-funded for one year, ClairMail is just closing a $6 million series A round. The company expects to reach profitability by late 2005 or early 2006 and grow its 15-member staff to 30 during the next few months, according to Mr. Salesky.

"That sounds like we're moving very fast, but our team worked for quite a while on the product before incorporating," he says. "However, now things are moving rapidly. We took in about $340,000 in bookings during the last 40 days."

It's 'about saving time'

ClairMail has developed and licenses a product that enables users of mobile hand-held devices to access enterprise applications and Web content via e-mail and other messaging protocols. ClairMail's transactional automation infrastructure accepts requests from authorized users and cuts across firewalls and password procedures to allow data retrieval with one click on the user's device.

The technology comes packaged as a single appliance that enables an enterprise server to connect with a Blackberry, Palm Pilot, laptop, cell phone, and wired network using varied operating systems, platforms, and protocols.

"The product is about saving time and increasing productivity, and it's about customer service," says Mr. Salesky. "ClairMail gives mobile salespeople the ability to go directly to the information they need. It allows financial institutions to offer customers mobile banking; credit card holders can be notified in real time of security risks. Order status, credit approval - information can be available immediately wherever the user happens to be. "

Mobile data access has been slow and cumbersome, he says, because providers try to replicate the procedures of desktop access on a mobile device. "Desktop users don't mind sifting though a series of screens and entering various passwords. To a Blackberry user, it's a series of frustrations."

The Market

There are nearly 40,000 businesses whose employees use personal devices, and mobile applications are one of the fastest-growing technology sectors. About $3 billion was spent on wireless infrastructure last year, according to Mr. Salesky.

"There are 1.4 billion handheld devices out there today that could be using our technology," he says. "As far as I'm aware, nobody has given them the capabilities that we have."

According to a Quocirca Insight report on mobile e-mail, almost 50% of businesses are active or becoming active with mobile access to service management, inventory, and logistics systems.

"Mobile technologies should not be viewed as an end in themselves, but as a way to extend the services of the business," the report says, adding that investment plans for mobile devices should be part of a company's overall strategy.

Banks and health care providers are ClairMail's initial focus, and the company already has several banks as customers. Although the banks are for the most part using ClairMail internally, Mr. Salesky expects the service will migrate outward in time to preferred customers.

ClairMail charges a flat fee per enterprise customer per year and scales its charges according to the number of users. Initially, a typical customer will pay less than $100,000 a year for the service and scale up as its needs grow. Costs can be quickly recovered in higher productivity among workers, new revenue streams from additional services, and automated transactions, according to Mr. Salesky.

The company uses a Dell shell and Linux platform and assembles and tests the products on site. The 9,000sf Hamilton Landing location is ideal, according to Mr. Salesky.

"I love it here. My family lives at the Landing, and most of our new employees will probably live in the North Bay. The talent pool is extraordinary," he says.

"We hope that someday ClairMail will occupy a hangar of its own."

For more information, call 415-884-7270 or visit www.clairmail.com.


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