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Action Engine gets another $20m to burn

Existing investors convinced by breaking market

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Action Engine: self-styled leaders in the On-Device Portal business, has squeezed their investors for another $20m, bringing the total to $75m the past seven years.

Quite how Baker Capital, Northwest Venture Associates and The Spangler Group intend to make back their investment isn't clear, but company CEO Scott Silk must have had a pretty compelling story to tell.

Action Engine makes software for adding branding to mobile phones: local applications which give users quick access to premium content and present a prettier interface than would be possible with HTML, or even AJAX.

Customers include MSNBC and TiVo, but the field is competitive with companies such as Surf Kitchen, Abaxia, Cibenix, Onskreen and even Qualcomm offering similar products to the same small group of customers.

The latest investment round should see the company funded for another 12 months, so it is likely that it expects a big win during that time; perhaps a revenue-share model with an operator which would take time to pay off.

The on-device portal business is overcrowded with too many suppliers chasing too few customers; it seems unlikely that everyone is going to survive the next few years. Action Engine has worked hard to raise its profile in the industry, so failure could easily knock confidence in the whole business model. ®

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