Sofinnova Ventures, Telesystem-Argo Global Capital and Sofinnova Partners Invest $10 Million in European Wireless Data Services Company
Sofinnova Ventures Leads International Syndicate of Investors to Finance
VoluBill, a Mobile Internet Billing Company That is the First Spin-Off From
Cegetel Group, France's First Private Enterprise Global Telecommunications
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Sofinnova Ventures, a diversified venture firm specializing in early-stage information technology and life science companies, today announced an investment round of 11 million Euros ($10 million) to launch VoluBill, a mobile Internet billing solutions company. Also participating in the investment are Telesystem-Argo Global Capital of Montreal, Canada and Sofinnova Partners of Paris, France. VoluBill is the spin-off from Cegetel Group, the first private sector global operator in France with nearly 15 million subscribers. Cegetel Group has an 18% equity stake in the company, which is based in Grenoble, France. Sofinnova Ventures Principal Eric Buatois said, "The mobile data and Internet business is evolving toward a retail/wholesale model with fewer intermediaries. VoluBill will help mobile operators become full billing aggregators for all the services provided through mobile devices." He added, "VoluBill's management team has deep experience addressing the challenges that currently face telecom operators. And, along with their expertise in international business development and strong product development focus, VoluBill's leadership has the full complement of skills to successfully serve this market niche." VoluBill is launching a one-stop charging solution that enables service providers to bill content services in both pre-paid and post-paid modes and notifies the users of transaction costs prior to connection. The VoluBill product, the Dialog Control and Charging Platform, is based on advanced reliable hardware and software that can easily feed combined content and traffic information to the existing billing systems, minimizing disruption and installation time. Olivier Protard, General Partner at Sofinnova Partners in Paris, said, "Detailed content billing will be one of the key success factors for the new generation of mobile services. The solution provided by VoluBill is well positioned to account for, certify and efficiently bill new data-rich services to the customers of GPRS and UMTS cellular operators in Europe." "In the current investment environment, it is more important than ever to be able to recognize the exceptional opportunities -- and VoluBill certainly presents one," commented Vesa Jormakka, General Partner of Telesystem-Argo Global Capital. "VoluBill is also a perfect fit to our existing portfolio of companies, which enables us to further leverage our know-how and experience in this exciting space." "We're meeting a need that currently exists in the market," concluded Andre Meyer, CEO and co-founder of VoluBill. "The most promising new revenue stream is content -- but service providers know that effective billing for content has remained an impossibility until now. By offering transaction information combined with traffic access information, with no necessary modification to the content, we can help service providers to implement innovative price plans." Global market intelligence firm IDC predicts that services revenue will accelerate as telecom carriers capitalize on Internet protocol opportunities. IDC valued the telecommunication service market at about $54 billion in 2000, and projects an increase to $101 billion by 2005, representing a compound annual growth rate of 13%. IDC qualifies this projection by adding that growth rates in 2001 to 2002 have inevitably been restrained as a result of slackening economic activity and war. About Sofinnova Ventures Sofinnova Ventures is a trans-Atlantic venture capital firm that is based in San Francisco, California. Founded in 1974, Sofinnova is one of the oldest venture firms. With $350 million under total capital management, Sofinnova emphasizes a diversified investment strategy through financing seed and early-stage companies in the communications, information technology and life sciences sectors. Sofinnova's mission is to create value by providing entrepreneurs with the collective resources, experience and network necessary to build early-stage companies into profitable businesses. With strong ties to Europe's leading financial, technology and venture organizations, Sofinnova helps U.S. companies rapidly enter Europe's growing markets, and European companies to develop a strong presence in U.S. markets. Historically, Sofinnova has been associated with leading companies such as Biogen, Collagen, Genentech, Printronix, Tandon and Tandem Computers. More recently, Sofinnova has invested in Actelion, Aviron, InterMune, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Phone.com, Premisys, Element 14 and Tumbleweed. For more information, visit www.sofinnova.com. About Telecom-Argo Global Capital Telesystem -- Argo Global Capital LLC is a U.S. Venture Capital firm with more than US$460 million of committed capital. Co-founded in 1997 by its CEO, H.H.Haight and by Telesystem, a private equity company in the digital economy, Telesystem-Argo is a leading international firm dedicated to the wireless industry and the convergence of wireless and the Internet. Telesystem-Argo's two funds, GSM Capital Limited Partnership and ARGO II -- The Wireless Internet Fund Limited Partnership, have made more than 35 investments in the wireless sector in Europe, North America and Asia from its offices in Boston, Montreal, London and Hong Kong. Major wireless operators around the World -- including France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, ESAT, Singapore Telecom, SmarTone, VoiceStream, Microcell Telecommunications and TIW -- contribute capital and ongoing support to Telesystem -- Argo's funds and its portfolio companies. For more information, visit http://www.argoglobal.com . About Sofinnova Partners Sofinnova Partners is a venture capital company. Based in Paris, the Sofinnova Partners team consists of 8 partners, managing close to 500 million euros. Sofinnova Partners invests in start-up and early stage companies, both in Information Technologies and Life Sciences. Since 1996, Sofinnova Partners has made 59 investments, including 34 as lead investor. It currently sits on the boards of 32 companies and continues to provide active support. For more information, please visit www.sofinnova.fr. About VoluBill Headquartered in Grenoble, France, VoluBill is a privately held mobile Internet billing company that is funded by Sofinnova Ventures, Telesystem-Argo Global Capital and Sofinnova Partners. The company provides content billing enabler solutions capable of analyzing content and application-based traffic that generates usage data records which include both transaction and traffic-based information. VoluBill's technology is also capable of injecting content such as price notification, location-based information and advertisements into the data flow from the service provider to the subscriber. This allows service providers to present the service price to the subscriber and to control how content is charged, using a mixed combination of traffic, volume and transaction parameters. For more information, visit www.volubill.com. MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X68640542
SOURCE Sofinnova Ventures
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