US unified messaging specialist Tornado Development has announced both Intel and Global Crossing have invested in the company as part of its fourth round of venture capital funding valued at $US28 million.
The financing arms of Intel and Global Crossing were two of the four principal investors, whose contributions accounted for 75 per cent of the funding, according to Jeff Scheinrock, chief executive officer of Tornado Development.
Currently attracting a lot of interest, unified messaging is a technology that enables users to access their e-mail, voice mail, fax and pager messages from a single phone or Web mailbox.
Last month, network backbone provider Global Crossing announced a strategic agreement with Tornado Development to offer a unified messaging service based on Tornado Messenger, Tornado Development's unified messaging engine. The arrangement would see Tornado Messenger become Global Crossing's exclusive unified messaging platform for the whole of its fibre-optic network.
"Global Crossing is the first major telecom to offer unified messaging," Scheinrock said. "The contract will expand the acceptance of unified messaging and make it happen a lot faster."Tornado Development is also hoping to work closely with Intel since the chip maker's Dialogic telephony boards can be used in conjunction with Tornado Messenger, Scheinrock explained.
Including this fourth round of financing, Tornado Development has raised around $US38.5 million to date. The company is using the money to expand internationally and hire more engineers, Scheinrock said.
Tornado Development will open its first international office in Hong Kong on August 1, which will also be the company's Asia-Pacific headquarters. The vendor expects to have offices in Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan up and running up by the end of the calendar year, according to Scheinrock. The company will also open an office just outside London in the fourth quarter of this year.
The unified messaging specialist's headcount is expanding rapidly, having recently hired almost 60 staff in the space of 90 days to bring the workforce up to 100 people. The company intends to hire a further 60 engineers within the next 90 days, Scheinrock said. It will also build up its sales and marketing team, he added.
Tornado Development doesn't sell its software to end-users, but concentrates on signing licensing deals with ISPs (Internet service providers), ASPs (application service providers), Web portal specialists, wireless providers and telecom carriers. The licensing deals range from partial to full licensing agreements and hosting arrangements.
Licensees can sell Tornado Messenger under their own name. "We don't care about branding, we are a technology development company," Scheinrock said. "The consumer won't know that they're using Tornado."Scheinrock believes that Tornado Messenger has the edge on its competitors since other unified messaging vendors use multiple platforms, employing different platforms for storing e-mail, voicemail and fax messages. "We have a Net-centric, single-store architecture - something that's very important to ISPs and portals," Scheinrock said. To purchase or maintain Tornado Messenger is "approximately half the cost of the company's rivals", he added.