Eight former Microsoft executives and two former managers from McCaw Cellular have established an investment firm to target startups in the wireless internet services market.
The company, called Ignition, has raised $140m (£88m) from strategic investors such as Qualcomm and Softbank Venture Capital and will be headed by Brad Silverberg, who becomes chairman and chief executive. Silverberg led the development of Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system and its Internet Explorer browser.
Ignition will focus on funding, advising and helping create startups in the wireless internet infrastructure, software and services market worldwide. The company said it might also buy stakes in or acquire more mature businesses.
Silverberg said Ignition has taken its model from the Internet Capital Group, which invests in business-oriented ecommerce companies and forms networks of companies that work together.
"We are people who identified and made big bets on the technology tidal waves of the 1990s - the PC, wireless and the internet. We believe the next tidal wave is wireless internet," said Silverberg.
Other former Microsoft executives include Jon Anderson, John Ludwig, Cameron Myhrvold, Satoshi Nakajima, Jonathan Roberts, Chris Peters and Rich Tong. Ignition has also signed up former McCaw executives, Steve Hopper and Kathy Iskra.
Iain Gilliott, an analyst at researcher IDC, said: "The wireless internet industry needs more than investment dollars, that's the easy part. Understanding the dynamics of the wireless market, its technologies, as well as having the ability to identify and take advantage of the right opportunities, will make all the difference. Ignition gathers an impressive group of people who can make that happen."
Separately, Daniel Hesse, the president of AT&T's wireless unit, has resigned just weeks before the telco plans to take the division public. Hesse will become president and chief executive of Seattle-based internet startup TeraBeam Networks, which builds technology that sends data by laser beams.
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