Kenamea Connects With $32M Round

Former Weblogic execs Bob Pasker, John Blair and Steve Friedman are back in the Internet limelight again, only this time they’re the three top dogs at a new enterprise software company called Kenamea Inc. Although their latest brainchild is still very much a start-up at just two years old, their collective track record in the Web-based applications space recently prompted the venture capital community to pump $32 million into the company’s war chest.

The up-round had originally been marketed with a target capitalization of $20 million, but was bumped up due to investor response so intense that a number of interested buyers had to be turned away. In all, the deal took only one month to complete.

“[The fund-raising process] went astoundingly quickly,” said Blair, the company’s chief executive. “We were thinking it would take us about four months because the climate out there is extremely difficult.”

Technically, first-time investor Azure Capital Partners led the oversubscribed Series C transaction, although fellow newcomer Lightspeed Venture Partners put in almost the same amount of capital. Series B lead Crosspoint Venture Partners also participated while Palm Ventures put up $2 million in strategic money.

Mike Kwatinetz, a general partner with Azure Capital, and Peter Nieh, a general partner at Lightspeed, both received seats on the company’s board as part of the financing.

This latest infusion is expected to carry Kenamea to profitability some time next year, but Blair said he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of drawing another bucket of strategic money from the private equity well if the company experiences growing pains down the road.

For the moment, however, the company is focused on ushering its flagship Web applications offering to market this quarter. “Our last VC round was about [readying] our product for market,” Blair explained. “This round is about taking it to market and being able to support it through the launch and into full deployment.”

Essentially, that entails ramping up its current sales and marketing staff, as well as putting in place a customer support team, all of which will be done using proceeds from the company’s most recent round of financing.

Lift-Off… Almost

In preparation for its imminent launch, the product is currently being tested with about 100 companies who could be potential Kenamea customers. Blair declined to name the pilot participants, but he did say they included financial services firms, communications companies, manufacturers, health-care providers and independent software vendors.

In its most basic incarnation, Kenamea’s charge is transforming the Internet from a document-oriented to an applications-centric tool.

“What Kenamea is trying to do is fix many of the problems that currently exist on the Web,” said a company spokesman. “Where the Web was originally about documents can I find information, like a bus schedule now it’s more about doing something, whether its buying an airline ticket or checking your bank balance. The problem is that the Web applications that currently exist don’t work very well, and the reason for that is because they were originally developed for delivering documents, not handling transactions.”

As such, Kenamea’s infrastructure technology is designed to revolutionize Web-based transactions the same way servers morphed the speed and efficiency of the entire Internet a few years ago by establishing constant, two-way communication between the front-end user interface and the back-end software that processes transactions.

“The Web needs a new infrastructure in order to work better with the kind of applications being created now,” said Azure’s Kwatinetz. “The vision Kenamea has is an excellent vision of how to get there. We also spoke to a number of people that are piloting the product, and Kenamea already seems to have good traction in the marketplace and customer adoption is important [in this space].”

Perhaps part of the reason its pilot partners have taken so well to Kenamea’s technology is because most other market players that could be potential competitors have chosen to concentrate more on the content development side of the Internet rather than infrastructure, Blair said. “To our knowledge, no other companies are addressing the specific nature of how applications work on the Web in the same way Kenamea is doing it,” he added.

When asked if the company had any IPO plans, Blair said that a Wall Street debut could be possible if the markets ever bounce back, but nothing is in the works just yet.

Contact Robyn Kurdek.