Portal software developer Arisem announced this week that it had increased its capital by FF20 million (U.S. $3 million) via fundraising from venture capitalists and private investors, and that it had won FF4 million in R&D funding (U.S. $600,000) from the French government.
AGF Private Equity (France), Innovacom, and the American firm Cairnwood were among the venture capital firms investing in Arisem, which has expanded rapidly since its 1997 creation.
Sales rose 250 percent to FF6.3 million (U.S.$950,000) in 1999, up from FF1.8 million (U.S. $276,000) in 1998 and FF450,000 (U.S.$68,000) in 1997, said the company’s marketing director, Camille Guermonprez-Brouard.
Arisem expects this year’s revenue to rise nearly 400 percent, to FF30 million (U.S.$4.5 million). It recently changed its status from a limited-liability company to a corporation.
The company dubs its product line “portal-wear” architecture, playing on the fact that its offices are located on the former premises of a well-known fashion company.
It specializes in automatic content-processing software, called 4U (for you), aimed mainly at researching and structuring data from the Internet or an intranet.
“We use an intelligent agent that is based on our semantic technology and crawls the invisible web — that is the 65 percent of all Internet content that has never been indexed,” said Guermonprez-Brouard. “The agent not only reads the information but understands it, enabling it to publish it on a yahoo-like portal.”
Artisem’s early customers included such behemoths as France Telecom, Aerospatiale-Matra and Total. The company recently inaugurated a product line for Internet startups, with prices ranging from FF300,000 (U.S.$45,000) to FF700,000 (U.S. $105,000).
Guermonprez-Brouard said Arisem, which plans to open offices in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain in the second half of 2000, is experiencing growing pains. The company started out with six employees in 1996, now has 35, and wants to boost staff to 60.
“We’re having trouble hiring people fast enough,” he said. “We’re also in the process of getting a PR agency to improve our communication.”
The company has a generous employee stock-option plan, Germonprez-Brouard said. Employees with the company at least six months received profit-sharing distributions worth three to four months of salary in 1999.
Artisem plans to go public sometime in 2001, he said.