Uniscape Receives $10M Infusion

With a $10 million investment from Sequoia Capital closing its last round of venture financing last week, Uniscape is on the fast track to launching an initial public offering, perhaps in the next 12 to 18 months.

Uniscape, an application service provider that offers a technology platform, e-commerce solutions and globalization services to e-businesses across 42 languages, began marketing the deal in January and finally reached Sequoia in February, said Chief Financial Officer Maggie Fong.

“In the Internet space, Sequoia has a track record of not just doing an IPO and achieving a high valuation very quickly, but growing more solid and large companies,” Fong said. She added that Sequoia’s track record, with companies like eToys and Google, and connections to companies like Yahoo! and Cisco Systems Inc. would likely lead to marketing and strategic partnerships within the portfolio down the road.

Since the launch of its Web-based solutions last July, Uniscape has been moving quickly toward profitability. Not only does the company expect its fiscal year 2000 revenues to be nearly four times larger than those recorded during 1999 (although Fong would not reveal any specifics), but, by year-end the company also plans to double its staff to 160 employees.

It also plans to create an international presence before year-end, with an office opening in Singapore before expanding into Europe and the East Coast. Currently, the company has 140 accounts valued from $10,000 to more than $1 million. Clients include Hewlett-Packard Company, DoubleClick and Lycos.

“The number of clients is not constrained by infrastructure,” said Michael Dortch, senior research analyst with the Robert Frances Group. “Uniscape can handle enough clients to become a solid profit producer…they can double their capacity with $10 million,”

Fong, however, is focused on long-term growth.

“It definitely is a target to go to an initial public offering as quickly as possible,” Fong said. “It’s Sequoia’s direction to want any of their portfolio companies to be truly public companies, then they need to establish long term growth. We put a growth rate in our plan this year – we can forecast reliably the growth with the infrastructures in place.”

According to the Gartner Group, by 2003 almost 60% of Internet users will live outside the U.S. and account for more than 60% of worldwide e-commerce by 2004. Still, 78% of all Web content is currently in English and 64% of Fortune 100 companies have not created Web sites in different languages.

“We’re firmly convinced that the problem in delivering up-to-date, internationalized e-commerce is more complex and more subtle than just translation – it needs to account for multiple currencies and international holidays,” Dortch said. “To the extent that Uniscape can tout their experience, and they can get the Fortune 500, they can lead this market.”

Uniscape already has agreements with players like Broadbase Software and Commerce One. One analyst suggested that more partnerships are in the works, including arrangements for globalization services with Computer Assoc. and Dell Computer Corp.’s enterprise service business.

The international market, too, has taken notice. Uniscape was founded in 1998 with an initial $3 million round of financing led by ACA Capital. A second round, closed in September 1999, included major players from Singapore and Taiwan, including Ginseng Security of Taiwan.