A tiny start-up company called eFusion Inc, which began life just a year ago, has developed a telecoms technology deemed so exciting that Microsoft Corp, Intel Corp and even AT&T Ventures are falling over themselves to get a stake. eFusion, based in Beaverton, Oregon, is a veritable minnow amongst the giant telecoms and computing companies and its product isn’t even unique, but what’s important is that the technology is available now, and it’s distinctly commercial in flavor. eFusion’s products are designed to add a human element to commercial web sites. Surfers who run into queries while doing their shopping on the net will be able to click an on-screen button which connects them directly to a call center representative, using the same telephone line and without breaking the web connection. Buyer and seller can then chat while simultaneously flicking through the same web pages. eFusion, which was formed by a group of ex-Intel engineers, is being very tight-lipped about the amount of finance the big players are providing and wouldn’t say anything about the size of the equity stake it has given away in the second round of private financing the company has undertaken. First in the door were Intel and AT&T, with Microsoft, France Telecom and Telecom Italia climbing on board for the second round. On Thursday, one of eFusion’s closest competitors, the Nasdaq listed Israeli company, VocalTec Communications Ltd announced a deal with Deutsche Telekom AG, whereby the German giant will buy a 21.1% stake in VocalTec together with $30m of products, services and support. The agreement is part of Deutsche Telekom’s ongoing internet telephony efforts.
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