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RealTime IT News

RealNames Lands $46.5 Million

RealNames Corp. became one step closer to developing a global Internet keyword system Monday when it received $46.5 million in its fourth-round of venture funding.

The company-- which has pioneered a system that enables people to go direct to a company's Web page simply by typing a corporate, brand or product name in the browser -- plans to restructure into four business units to support its open-registry-based distribution model, according to Keath Teare, CEO of RealNames.

"We are particularly excited by the participation of strong strategic partners," Teare said. "This new level of funding -- at an increased valuation over our last round and in a particularly tough market -- demonstrates that investors beliefs that we are deploying the new modern layer for Internet naming infrastructure."

The company's new divisions are Global Registry, which will be responsible for licensing country registries; RealNames Registry, which will appoint registrars who sell keywords to customers in U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan (the countries where RealNames is the country registry); RealName Registrars, which will sell keywords in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan; and Global Applications Sales, which is the company's technology and service divsion for the wireless, Internet and enterprise markets.

Calls to RealNames to acquire additional details on the restructuring plans were not returned as of press time.

Plans to develop the open worldwide system were unveiled late last month at a meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). At that time, RealNames introduced an open worldwide registry that will distribute and sell Keywords.

New financial backers for the venture account for a majority of the funding. The investors include Strong Capital Management, Munder Capital Management, Digital Island, DWS Investments, Emigrant Capital, Peak Capital Holdings and Dentsu.com. Other investors include Verisign, which previously acquired more than a 10 percent stake in the company.

Teare noted that Internet Keywords is a simplified, human approach to online navigation in which companies purchase Keywords to enhance their overall web presence, leverage their brand identity online and make it easier for customers to do business with them.

"Internet Keyword navigation allows major brands to improve their return on total advertising spending by unifying their identity online and offline," he said. "Marketing executives, brand managers and agencies that serve brand owners use Internet Keywords to converge offline media such as print, TV and radio advertising with a company's Internet presence. Internet Keywords enable brands to drive customers directly to specific pages deep within their sites and allow companies to secure and protect their trademarks and brands on the Internet."

Teare will lead the Global Registry division. Chris Dobrow will head the RealName Registries and the Global Application Sales divisions, and David Orren will be responsible for Global Application Sales.

The momentum of the past few weeks has been incredible," said Teare. "The investors in this round, several of which typically invest in public companies are a testament to the vision and importance we play in building the foundation of the future of the Internet. As a result of our restructuring, we can now ensure proper support for both our own and the world's Keyword registries and registrars."