Browser war veterans Jim Barksdale, former chief executive of Netscape and Brad Silverberg, a former executive at Microsoft, are both now investors in a Silicon Valley startup shrouded in secrecy.
The company, Tellme Networks, is building an Internet consumer service designed to work with telephones. But since launch is scheduled for the first half of 2000, the company is hesitant to reveal details about the upcoming technology.
"The service is not due out until the first half of next year, so we don't want to raise expectations too soon," said Mike McCue, Tellme chief executive and former Netscape vice president of technology.
"It's a consumer service that will broaden and improve the telephone experience by combining the ubiquity and ease of use of the telephone with the broad horsepower and openness of the Internet," he added.
Tellme founders McCue and Angus Davis, another former Netscape technologist, said they won't rely on cooperation from the phone companies but hope to work with them to market and distribute the service.
The 20 employee company announced that the two Internet pioneers have made substantial investments in the six month old venture. Tellme, which is in a round of obtaining $6 million in seed funding, has put up a Web site. The financing will be used to keep hiring, continue product development and begin creating commercial relationships, the company said.
"We've assembled an outstanding team of Web and telecommunications veterans who will leverage the Internet to transform how consumers use the telephone," said McCue. Tellme includes former Microsoft and Netscape developers.
"The Internet is about to converge with the telecommunications industry, creating some very large new business opportunities," said Barksdale. "We're funding Tellme because we believe this team will be able to build a substantial new consumer business as this convergence progresses."
Silverberg, currently a consultant to Microsoft president Steve Ballmer, is credited with turning around Microsoft's Internet division. Silverberg and Peter Currie, former executive vice president and chief financial officer at Netscape, have joined Tellme's board of directors.
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