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Benchmark makes big move into Ireland

The firm has invested $20m in Openet, an Irish company developing telecommunications software.

Benchmark Capital has made its biggest European investment to date with a $20m second round commitment to Irish software house Openet Telecom.

Openet first received venture backing in 1999, the year it was set up, when Cross Atlantic Capital Partners invested. The firm intends to use the new capital to increase its worldwide sales and marketing efforts on its product.

Openet makes mediation software that gathers and distributes sophisticated data relating to telephone phone call used by operators for billing purposes. Openet’s clients are AT&T Wireless and Esat, the Irish telecoms company owned by BT. In its second year of trading, the company had revenues of $10m.

The mediation market is expected to see some significant growth, according to research group IDC. The firm says the sector will turn over $1bn by 2005. It is currently considered open to companies establishing themselves as first place players.

According to Barry Maloney, general partner, Benchmark thought that Openet was already well positioned in the industry. “It is a very attractive opportunity, because the company’s strong technical approach and that it has established itself in this fast-growing area at a time of immense turbulence in the market are the reasons it is a very attractive opportunity”, he commented.

Benchmark capital manages more than $2bn of committed capital and has invested in a number of high profile companies including ebay, Handspring and Juniper Networks. The company’s European fund closed at $750m in the summer 2000.

In May this year the group closed a $220m fund dedicated to Israeli hi-tech companies.