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December 15, 1997updated 03 Sep 2016 2:17pm

PLANETWEB SECURES FUNDING, SIGNS WITH MITSUI, PLANS IPO

By CBR Staff Writer

PlanetWeb Inc, purveyor of embedded browser technology for the set-top box, telephone and video game markets, has secured additional funding and is planning an initial public offering some time next year. The investment from Toshiba Corp, by Pulsar International SA de CV, and Arrow Capital Management Inc boost the company’s value from $17.2m to $100m, it says. Chairman Kamran Elahian said that together with the original funding, which came from Sega Enterprises Ltd, Itochu Corp Japan and Itochu Technologies Inc in June 1996, the total invested amount to less than $10m. But as yesterday’s new investors are said to have taken 10% between them, the math does not quite work out at a $100m valuation. Anyway, the Mountain View company also announced a deal with Mitsui Comtek Corp, whereby the PlanetWeb browser and integrated operating system kernel will be included in Mitsui’s forthcoming Saratoga telephone for internet access with a color LCD display. Elahian is currently looking for a president to run the company and take it public, the same strategy he adopted at his previous firms, NeoMagic, Momenta Corp and Cirrus Logic Inc, all of which he founded. Last time we spoke to Elahian back in March, he was touting a Japanese television manufacturer that was planning to include the embedded browser in a TV in time for February’s Winter Olympics, but that deal has encountered some delays, he said, although it is still a possibility. But he is now looking at the satellite set-top box and Digital Video Disk (DVD) markets, where he expects deals to come next year. Regarding the competition, in particular Spyglass Inc, he doesn’t recall losing much business to them, and says their product is much larger than PlanetWeb’s which runs in less than 500k. For its part, Spyglass says it too can get its browser down to that sort of size, but with the OS included (Spyglass’ browser is ported to the OS as required), both products are about the same size. Also, Spyglass has a wider product set and a services arm. Sources say Spyglass recently beat PlanetWeb head- to-head to a deal. PlanetWeb was founded in March last year and delivered its first product at the end of 1996, the PlanetWeb Browser designed with the Sega Saturn Net Link in mind. The company received its initial funding when it sold stock to Sega Enterprises Ltd, Itochu Corp Japan and Itochu Technologies Inc in June 1996. Elahian says expect another major video game manufacturer to license the software next year.

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