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August 29, 2005
Stealth Startup: Machine Phase Systems
First of all, it's not a nanotechnology company. (For non-nerds, the term "machine phase systems" refers to molecule-sized robots.) The name is just temporary, though it may hint at what this new venture is doing.
The 10-month-old, Los Altos, Calif.-based startup was founded by Michael Tanne, who previously started peer-to-peer software company Xdegrees, which was incubated at VC firm Redpoint Ventures and sold to Microsoft in 2002 for an undisclosed amount. Before that, Tanne co-founded AdForce, an Internet ad management company, which CMGI bought in 2000 for $434 million.
In July, Machine Phase Systems raised $6.2 million in its second preferred stock financing from 11 investors, including VC firm Greylock, PayPal-founder-turned-hedge-fund-manager Peter Thiel, Palo Alto, Calif. real estate investor Boyd C. Smith, and Endeavor Group, Tanne's investment vehicle. On the board are Tanne, Greylock general partner David Sze, and former Excite executive VP Brett Bullington. The company's first stock financing appears to have come entirely from Endeavor Group.
Tanne declined to provide details about MPS' business but promised to fill us in when the outfit formally debuts. MPS' Web site says the company is building a large-scale Internet service and has developed an "experimental web-crawling robot" called NanoBot, which "collects certain documents from the Web to build a new type of knowledge discovery system." That's where the nanotech-robot connection comes in. Oh, and then there's eBagle.
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