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October 13, 1998

CENTRAAL PROMISES MORE PARTNERS, FUNDING & TOOLS

By CBR Staff Writer

Centraal, the start-up company with the RealNames system of natural language mappings to domain names, as well as promising last week an extension of its deal with Compaq Computer Corp’s AltaVista unit next month (10/08/98) also says it will sign a deal in December that will push the number of queries per day it processes from the current 1.5 million or so, to around 70 million each day. Naturally, the company would not say who it was that was going to provide this exponential growth, but hinted at one of the major portals. It also said at last week’s Fall Internet World that it expects to announce its second round funding by next week, which will include both strategic and financial investors. At present, the company only charges for subscriptions ($100 per RealName annually), but its main business will soon be selling resolutions, by which it means charging companies that have RealNames about five cents each time the RealName takes people to the web site specified by the RealName. The benefit to companies, says company founder and chief executive Keith Teare is that it delivers them a dedicated user, that is one that is already knows it is looking for something specific. To aid this, the company will start an advertising campaign this quarter and hopes to sign resellers, or registrars. There is a target of 125 companies that it wants paying for resolutions by January 1 and, says Teare, Centraal has had significant success in meeting that target already. With a name that means center in Dutch, Centraal is planning to add services to attract and keep users, portal-style – to its site. It is developing a personal version of its service for people to register as individuals, called PersonalNames, which executive VP sales and marketing Ted West says will be launched in the not too distant future. The company is also planning to offer a shopping comparison tool, but it is not clear if that will be its own or licensed. In the more immediate future, expect the Palo Alto company to announce an Asian partner that will enable it to offer support for Japanese, Korean and Chinese, among other languages. Centraal is even more bullish about its prospects of beating off the patent infringement suit filed against it by rival Netword LLC. Teare said the lawsuit was the result of fraudulent behavior, in that it failed to mention prior art to the Patent & Trademark Office. And even if it was valid, Teare says we don’t believe we infringe anything in their patent. http://www.centraal.com

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