Protégé, the self-styled global accelerator in building technology businesses internationally, has finally run out of steam.
Just over a year ago Larry Levy, the accelerator’s founder, was hiring hard to develop his business as a company doctor to technology businesses. Now it is more a case of physician heal thyself as Levy has turned the accelerator in on itself to create a software company. From Protégé’s ashes Semagix, a software company, has risen in an all-stock deal.
Levy said: “It is poacher turned gamekeeper. The whole premise of the business model was liquidity events in a three-year timeframe. In the middle of 2001 there was the stark realisation that the current environment was here to stay. After September 11 it was lights out for a lot of things. We realised we had to change fundamentally.”
Six months of searching for that change and applying the skills and experience that Protégé had acquired, threw up San Mateo-based Voquette, whose software enables organisations to classify, manage and intelligently exploit structured and unstructured content from any source.
Levy said: “We took the legacy and experience of building up 33 companies mainly in this enterprise content space and found the best company.” Now the trick will be to do for Semagix, Voquette’s new name following its acquisition by Protégé, what Levy claimed to do for his portfolio companies.
In addition to the existing assets of the two organizations, Semagix has secured an additional $10 million to help fund the company's growth and product development plans. Levy becomes CEO of Semagix while Philip Monego, former CEO of Voquette becomes non-executive chairman.
The Protégé name lives on at a holding company level and Levy does not rule out a return to portfolio management in the future. But his shareholders are for now happy to be invested in a company that is still standing and that has a future, two things that Levy says does not apply to a lot of his rivals of two years ago.