Belfast mobile software firm raises US$10m


5 Feb 2007

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Northern Ireland mobile software player Aepona has raised US$10m in a venture capital round subscribed to by existing investors, bringing total investment in the company to US$45m.

Aepona’s latest funding round came from existing investors who include Amadeus Capital Partners, Polaris Ventures and Trinity Venture Capital.

The company, which employs 117 people in Belfast and reported revenues last year of US$11m, has in the past year won major contracts from global telecom operators including France Telecom/Orange, Sprint in the US and Bridge Mobile Alliance in Asia.

Another key deal has been struck with Vimplecom, one of Russia’s largest mobile operators with some 53 million subscribers.

Aepona has strengthened its management team and has launched new end-to-end applications-led technologies to the market as well as opening a new research and development centre in Kiev in the Ukraine.

The company has also established a presence in India, which is currently the world’s fastest-growing telecoms markets.

In an interview with siliconrepublic.com, Aepona’s chief executive Isaac Olasoko said that the investment is key to taking Aepona to the next stage in its development.

“The investment will be used to accelerate the development of features in our products such as a telecoms web services gateway,” Olasoko explained. “Our target customers outside of Europe are in the midst of building infrastructure, particularly in North America, Russia, South America and south-east Asia.

“As well as this we will be investing in strengthening the capabilities of our Belfast team. If we execute our plan well Aepona will be well placed to actually dominate the service delivery market for mobile.”

He agreed with the assertion that there is a blurring of the lines between mobile and not only fixed-line but actual DSL and cable broadband services.

“We are positioning our selves to be a critical player in the broader telecoms market. With the convergence of mobile and fixed we see an increased number of opportunities to enable telecom firms to offer new services across mobile and fixed markets.

“We are particularly interested in the way that content is delivered over mobile and fixed networks, how it is managed and handled over the internet and how companies derive revenue from that.

“Companies like Orange already have broadband offerings and are interested in the ability to offer continuous connectivity services that will help them penetrate the fixed-line market. Both fixed and mobile operators are looking at expanding into sectors that generate new income but also to help defend against voice over IP (VoIP) players like Skype.

In particular, Olasoko said, the onset of a new 3.5G/4G broadband standard called IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) will have major ramifications for the convergence between fixed and mobile services. “Expect to see a lot of activity in this area over the next three years.”

On the question of whether Aepona is likely to pursue a flotation, Olasako said: “Our objective right now is to manage this company’s growth. We are signing up new customers and are growing more quickly.

“We had a chance a year ago to IPO but it seemed a short-term move that would have been motivated purely for profit. We decided the wiser course would have been to generate increased investment in products and new markets and accelerate growth for the longer term.

“Down the road an exit route may emerge from that. This is, after all, an industry where everybody seems to buy everybody else. We aim to be in a strong position where we can do anything we like. To get there we are concentrating on executing our strategy,” Olasoko concluded.

By John Kennedy

Pictured – Michael Crossey, vice-president of marketing, and Isaac Olasoko, CEO, Aepona, plan for the future following the completion of the company’s latest funding round

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