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Still Bullish on the Net

If you think Internet companies are not attracting any venture capital money since the April tech-stock slump, check with Barksdale first.

Barksdale, whose Silicon Valley venture firm, The Barksdale Group, is backing an impressive portfolio of Net companies, says it's not that venture money has dried up; it has merely shifted focus. Barksdale's current investment strategy favors companies providing Web infrastructure ("plumbing") services or new technology such as wireless (mobile computers and handheld devices) or broadband (video).

So much has changed in business during the last decade. Have you acquainted yourself with the reigning magnates of the Information Railroad? Test your net savvy here.

Some random Barksdale thoughts...

For example, in September the firm joined with Benchmark Capital to post $10 million for Crossgain, a Redmond, Wash., Web infrastructure start-up. Crossgain, started by several Microsoft Corp. veterans, is developing products to address basic tasks such as scalability and security that underlie the Web content software.

Similar Web infrastructure companies in the Barksdale portfolio are Slam Dunk Networks and Packet Design.

"What we are not investing in are some of the less developed ideas around business-to- consumer or business-to-business not to say that they won't come back, but we are not as bullish on those sectors right now," says Barksdale.

Some may argue that an exception to that statement is Webvan, which became a Barksdale company after the online grocery delivery business acquired HomeGrocer, a previous Barksdale holding, on Aug. 31. However, Barksdale says Webvan is so solid that it stands out from other business-to-consumer sites.

"Although I certainly agree that (Webvan) is B2C, it is a much more powerful revenue production model in a real market," he says.

Wireless is also a strong investment interest. The Barksdale Group currently backs ViAir, which provides infrastructure for wireless Web systems. Also, Barksdale is a keynote speaker at a national forum later this month for venture capitalists and portals investing in wireless technology. The VOX2000 forum will be Oct. 30 in Baltimore.

"As the Net Economy expands into new areas we plan to explore those spaces for investment," says an online description of The Barksdale Group investment philosophy. "We view broadband and wireless as extensions of the Net Economy."


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