Searching for an 07 IPO
Had a chat a few days back with Steve Papa, the founder of a very interesting search-technology startup called Endeca. It's big in a couple of areas. First, it has built a specialized search engine e-tailers use to make it easier to drill down through thousands of products to find the book or drill you want. Top clients include Walmart.com and a total of about 40 of the top 100 e-tail sites, Papa says. It's also adapting its technology to help big enterprises manage the piles of data and expertise they have -- think buzzwords like knowledge management and business analytics. Big clients there include IBM, which uses Endeca software to keep track of its thousands of consultants' expertise so they can match the right consultant to the right job. (That project landed IBM on last year's BW Websmart 50 companies list).
Papa says Endeca's up to about $50 million in sales now, and is profitable when it wants to be -- that is, when they make a little money, they usually put it back into the business. The news nuggets from the meeting are that the corporate and government work is now more than half of Endeca's business, and that Papa thinks Endeca could be ready to go public by 2007. It's an interesting little company that can exploit the need for all kinds of uses of search technology, without competing with Google and Yahoo for pay-per-click advertising. While we don't know much yet about Endeca's financials, its ties with big players like IBM, Bentonville and a good bit of contract work with government intelligence agencies who think search tech is a key piece of homeland-security preparation make it one to watch.
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