Tuesday, May 6, 2003
Interview with Jim Saake, CEO of Etronica
Jim Saake is CEO of Pacific Palisades-based Etronica (www.etronica.com), a Tech Coast Angels funded startup. I talked to him to get an idea of what the company is about.
BK: What is Etronica's business?
JS: Etronica has developed a software toolset for enhanced search, navigation, and personalization. The core process involves the automatic "tagging" of text-based content with keywords that are relevant to the meaning of the given body of content. Once tagged, content can easily be categorized to help people quickly find what they are looking for. We call the process "Interest-based Navigation" because you click on what you are interested in rather than typing words in a traditional search box.
A second major benefit is that related information (other content of interest, targeted ads, e-commerce items, etc.) can automatically be served to users based on keyword associations.
The Patented software can be deployed on the Web or in settop boxes for cable and satellite iTV applications.
BK: Who are your typical customers, and who is using your technology?
JS: Etronica offers its technology to OEM software companies that have a need for more powerful search and personalization functionality.
Additionally, the company is launching a Web based "e-service" for online publishers and content heavy Websites. Any site with archives of information is a logical candidate for this new service. The clients will use a Web "dashboard" to manage online content and serve up content-specific targeted advertising. One of our e-service clients is Digital Media Wire, Inc., a leading publisher and event company here in Los Angeles.
Another market that is in need of the type of solution that we offer is the enhanced, or interactive, television industry. Given the number of digital channels available, the emergence of video on demand services, and the growth of "personal video recorders" traditional time/channel grid navigation is less than satisfying. We have a strategic relationship with Gist Communications www.gist.com/us/ Gist is a leader in the development of advanced electronic programming guides.
Another Los Angeles based company that we are working with is LatinoLA.com. They have the most visible community and commerce website for Latinos in Southern California. Their use of our technology will help them expand their offering and generate incremental revenues.
BK: Who are you funded by?
JS: Etronica is a privately held company. Primary investors include the Tech Coast Angels, Etronica's management, and other private investors.
BK: How did you hook up with the Tech Coast Angels?
JS: The core technology was developed by Mr. Peter Black in the early 1990's. Mr. Black founded the company in 1999 and the Tech Coast Angels provided initial funding in 2000. At that time, the company was primarily focused on enhancing the functionality of Web based news sites. After Peter Black regretfully passed away in the Fall of 2001, the Board of Directors invited me to become the company's CEO. I saw real value in the unique intellectual property that the company has and joined to develop and execute a plan for continued growth.
BK: What's your background?
JS: I have a degree in Engineering from the University of California, Davis. Prior to my focus on Internet related ventures the past few years, I spent 17 years in the energy industry at Unocal Corporation.