Aether's strategy is to be the dominant provider of wireless data services and systems by using our engineering expertise, our software platforms, our customer service and network operations center and our other resources.
We seek to maximize recurring revenue by developing wireless data services for a variety of industries and market segments in the United States and internationally. A key element of our strategy is to move quickly into new opportunities to extend our leadership position.
Our strategy includes the following key elements:
To realize our strategy Aether Capital has established, or invested in, the following companies:
- Target a variety of industries and market segments for development of wireless data communications and services in the United States and internationally.
- Offer the widest range of software products to address every aspect of wireless integration and mobile data management for mobile workers and consumers.
- Continue to develop mass-market wireless applications like e-mail and Internet access and bundle them with custom corporate applications.
- Apply the expertise we gain through engineering services and research and development activities to emerging business opportunities.
In August 1999, Aether and 3Com formed OmniSky to pursue opportunities in the emerging wireless ISP market.
OmniSky's wireless Internet and e-mail service has become a key component of many of Aether's services in combination with customized enterprise wireless data systems that Aether designs, develops and supports. OmniSky enables users to program up to six individual e-mail addresses into their wireless devices, as well as gain the ability to access popular Web content optimized for those devices.
Aether played a key behind-the-scenes role in bringing OmniSky's service to market: OmniSky has licensed the company's Aether Intelligent Messaging (AIM) wireless messaging software as the core technology of its solution. OmniSky's service operates through Aether's secure network operations center, which acts as a gateway to efficiently transmit Web and e-mail information through multiple wireless networks and out to a variety of wireless handheld devices.
Aether also provides technical support to end users through its customer service center.
Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, OmniSky Corporation is a leading provider of comprehensive branded wireless Internet services that enable subscribers to access and navigate the Internet, send and receive e-mail from their existing accounts, and securely conduct e-commerce over handheld mobile devices. The service features an easy-to-use portal that organizes a wide variety of information by interest area categories such as entertainment, finance, news, shopping, sports, travel and weather.
Subscribers have the ability to access content that is optimized for enhanced viewing and performance on handheld mobile devices from approximately 1,000 popular branded content feeds as well as to browse virtually any Web site. AT&T Wireless Services is the premier network provider for the OmniSky service, using its CDPD wireless network, with coverage in major cities across the nation. OmniSky is a privately funded corporation based in Palo Alto, California.
In addition to investments from Aether and 3Com Corporation, OmniSky has received financing and support from News Corporation, PSI Net and Sprout Group, Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette's venture capital affiliate. The company's web site is www.omnisky.com.
Aether Systems, Inc. has agreed to license its Aether Intelligent Messaging (AIM) software platform and provide engineering services and strategic support to Inciscent, the new joint venture with Metrocall, Inc. and PSINet Inc.
Inciscent has been formed to develop wireless e-mail, Internet access and other applications for the small office and home office (SOHO) market segments. The applications will be marketed to Metrocall's existing base of wireless messaging subscribers - 6 million according to Metrocall - and other customer groups.
Aether, which owns 27.5 percent of Inciscent, has agreed to provide engineering services and value-added applications to bring wireless data capabilities to Inciscent customers. Aether has also agreed to license its Aether Intelligent Messaging (AIM) platform - which enables customized wireless software development - to support the ReFLEX25 protocol for Short Messaging Service (SMS) and other wireless data applications. AIM provides a platform for effective and reliable data communications to multiple wireless devices and networks.
Aether also is providing wireless applications hosting, customer support and network operations to Inciscent through its Wireless ASP Center, which provides complete wireless systems. To learn more about Inciscent visit www.inciscent.com.
Sila Communications has been created by Aether Systems and Reuters to provide leading wireless data services in Europe and Asia. Launched in May 2000, Sila hosts, designs and manages services for customers through enterprise wireless data centers throughout Europe. The company provides, independent of any network or mobile device, wireless access to corporate information, Reuters content, Internet information and applications, email and secure transaction capabilities.
Initially, Sila's focus will be in the financial services markets, offering wireless trading systems on any device over any network. Sila will deliver secure, high-speed, managed services to this market, and plans to expand into other sectors rapidly. The company's strategy is to build its business both organically and through acquisition of complementary companies.
The new venture is backed by Aether Systems, Inc and Reuters Group PLC. The two companies announced a letter of intent on Feb. 8, 2000. Aether Systems has a 60% interest in Sila and Reuters the remaining 40%. Aether Systems is providing US$15 million cash and its recent US$85 million acquisition of IFX Group Ltd., Europe's largest provider of mobile financial data. Reuters is contributing US$22 million cash and its wireless applications asset, Futures Pager, a UK-based company that provides paging and real-time de-livery of financial market data.
Through IFX and Futures Pager, Sila already has a significant infrastructure in place, with offices in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Netherlands, Portugal and Singapore. Headquartered in London, the company plans to develop leading-edge technologies to optimize the delivery of data over the next generation of digital networks being rolled out across Europe.
Aether Systems, Inc. and Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc. the world's leading provider of educational services to families, schools, and industry, have combined to launch a new company, MindSurf. MindSurf will provide an affordable mobile computing infrastructure that seamlessly links students, teachers and parents, improving communication in the school community and enriching the K-12 learning experience. Critical Path, the global leader in messaging solutions, has joined Aether and Sylvan in launching this wireless education venture.
The vision of MindSurf is to provide students with computing and communications resources through low-cost, wireless handheld devices, while giving teachers and parents unique new tools to stay connected. The MindSurf solution will provide basic collaboration, communication and messaging applications that can be configured for specific uses. Students will gain access to the information they need, such as schedules, assignments, activities and educational content, including reference materials.
Teachers, meanwhile, will enjoy a means to communicate more efficiently with students, parents and other teachers, streamline their workload and focus on teaching. In addition, MindSurf provides a level of administrative control, allowing teachers to set access, security and privacy guidelines. Parents can stay informed about their children's attendance, grades, assignments, and teachers' comments and can be instantly notified of a problem or issue concerning their child.
Sylvan and Aether will share majority ownership of MindSurf, with each company contributing $29.4 million at the launch for a 42 percent stake in the company respectively. Critical Path and other minority investors will own the remaining 16 percent of MindSurf. Visit MindSurt at www.mindsurf.net.
Aether Systems, Inc. has completed a $5.6 million strategic investment in VeriStar Corp.
In addition, Catalina Marketing Corp. (NYSE: POS), a St. Petersburg, Fla. company specializing in strategic targeted marketing solutions for supermarket retailers and consumer goods companies, has made a $1 million strategic investment in VeriStar.
Based in Berkeley, Calif., VeriStar holds extensive patents on biometric technology applications and processes. The firm has developed a proprietary service enabling consumers to make payments without cash, checks or cards by using their pre-registered biometrics (finger images, voice prints, etc.) that link them to their personal financial data. VeriStar, formerly known as SmartTouch, Inc., has strategic business alliances with both Aether and Catalina Marketing.
Aether's $5.6 million investment gives the company a 20 percent stake in VeriStar. Management of both Aether and Catalina Marketing consider VeriStar an attractive investment due to its extensive library of technology and process patents, and its biometrically-enabled electronic payment service, which holds the potential to change the way consumers pay for everyday goods and services.
In the initial rollout, VeriStar will focus its technology and programs on multi-lane retail applications, such as supermarkets and chain stores. The US supermarket industry alone experiences over 18 billion transactions per year. The service will be found at the checkout counter, allowing consumers to pay simply by touching their finger to a scanner or a screen.
In the emerging m-commerce (mobile commerce) arena, VeriStar will enable consumers to verify their identity for a transaction via wireless phone by speaking to a voice prompt linking them to their accounts, then using their unique biometric voice print to complete the transaction. For more information, please visit www.veristarcorp.com.
Aether Systems, Inc. has completed an $8 million strategic investment in ePhones. ePhones enables wireless Internet products and services, powering Web sites for more than 175 wireless retailers and Internet partners representing more than 500 retail stores nationwide.
Aether is the lead investor in the Series C round of financing, and is accompanied by ePhones' existing investors, U.S. Venture Partners, Alta Partners, Alta Communications, and Kim Cooke, Managing Director of Blue Water Capital, who invested an additional $2.5 million, for a total of $10.5 million. In addition to the investment, Aether will become a preferred provider of wireless data solutions for ePhones.
This agreement will enable ePhones partners to offer Aether services through the ePhones Powered Network. The ePhones Powered Network is the first multi-channel network of its kind, offering Aether a specialized channel capable of delivering new wireless Internet services to qualified customers.
The ePhones Powered Network provides complete solutions, allowing partners to significantly expand their product lines with no software development or inventory carrying costs. ePhones enables partners to add a fully functioning wireless e-Commerce operation quickly and easily, while maintaining the flexibility to set their own business rules. Partners choose from a wide range of customization tools, selecting the products and services that suit their needs, and the rapid deployment solution seamlessly integrates new services with their existing operations.
ePhones also provides partners with sales, marketing, training and operational support for new wireless Internet services. To learn more about ePhones visit them at www.ephones.com.
Aether Systems, Inc. has completed a $20 million strategic investment in Novatel Wireless, Inc.
Novatel Wireless designs, manufactures and markets wireless Internet solutions for business professionals and end consumers, including wireless palmtop modems for Palm OS and Microsoft® Pocket PC devices, wireless PC cards and serial modems for laptop and desktop computers, and wireless embedded modules for custom integration projects. For information on Novatel Wireless visit them at www.novatelwireless.com.