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InPhase holo-storage firm in deathmarch tug o' war

Investors tussle over fire-sale plans

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The two venture capital owners of failed holographic storage developer InPhase are at war. One wants to auction all the company's remaining assets, while the other thinks it can do a phoenix and rise from the ashes.

Bart Stuck, CEO of Signal Lake

Stuck on you: Signal

Lake MD Bart Stuck

won't give up on InPhase

The Longmont TImes reports that two VC firms, Acadia Woods Partners and Signal Lake, own the business. Acadia has 50.5 per cent and Signal Lake 49.5 per cent of a $10m loan made to InPhase in March after it had shut down the month before. Bart Stuck, the managing director and co-founder of Signal Lake, said at the time he thought InPhase could be revived. Signal Lake has been a long-term investor in the company.

Acadia said it loaned its share of the cash to InPhase on the understanding that other investors would come on board. They haven't. Now it has hired an auctioneer to sell off every single one of InPhase's assets, having gained legal approval to do so in September. Signal Lake says it is contractually prevented from doing that and has gone to the Boulder County District Court to try and stop the auction.

InPhase went through a tortuous product development process for its 300GB Tapestry holographic drive, with many stops and starts, layoffs and repeated delivery delays, finally giving up the ghost when it couldn't get the drive and its advanced optics to operate reliably.

The company has just 14 contractor employees and hired a new CEO in October. It is experiencing as tortuous a close-down and death process as it did in its development phase. This is largely due to Signal Lake's managing director Bart Stuck's amazing and tenacious faith in it and its technology.

Signal Lake has invested a largish proportion of the $95m cash InPhase has consumed since January 2001 and successful completion of its product development is the only way it will get any return on that. ®

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