Here's a start-up that prospered, stuck around
March 20, 2006
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Can you start a tech
company in Chicago and make money? Telution CEO Kent Steffen,
39, isn't disclosing how much he made when Colorado-based CSG
Systems bought Chicago-based Telution earlier this month, but
published reports put the purchase price at $22 million. CSG,
which provides billing solutions for cable TV companies, is expected
to capitalize on Telution's expertise in billing software to help
cable companies compete in the phone business.
The deal fits nicely
into Steffen's plans for Telution. In 1998 the ex-Accenture consultant
founded Telution to create next-generation software for companies
such as SBC and Comcast that are chasing the dream of convergence:
providing telephone, data communications and video entertainment
over a common IP platform, delivered through telephone lines,
cable connection or satellite dish.
Steffen realized phone,
cable and wireless service providers suffer from a common ailment.
They lack quality software systems that enable customers to order
new services and keep them working properly.
Says Steffen, "CSG
and Telution share a common vision for the role of customer care
and billing in the communications industry. Service providers
are adding new services and trying to personalize them to each
customer. This requires a flexible customer care and billing platform."
That's just what Telution combined with CSG can offer.
from Day One was to make communication more useful through a better
approach to the software," adds Steffen. With the CSG deal,
Steffen can scale more quickly.
Telution employs 75,
and spokesman Rob Kunzler says, "Telution will stay in Chicago.
CSG will open an office here." Not all Chicago start-ups
Telution is the second
venture for the South Dakota native and University of Illinois
computer science major. After graduating from Champaign in 1989,
Steffen joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). He left in
1992 to do a start-up that produced multimedia software tools.
When that didn't work out, he returned to Andersen Consulting.
An entrepreneur at
heart, he took the plunge again in 1998. Now it's paying off.
Guess you can build
a start-up in Chicago and prosper.
HP CEO Mark Hurd keynotes
the Executives' Club luncheon and tech conference Tuesday at the
Chicago Hilton and Towers on "Inevitable Trends in Information
Technology & Business."
Hurd's CEO performance
is excellent. Last month HP announced a 30 percent jump in profits
and a 6 percent increase in fiscal first-quarter revenue.
Turning around a global
tech giant may be easier for Hurd than giving a stump speech.
When Hurd spoke in Chicago last October, he was brief and underwhelming.
Expect more on Tuesday. He has favorable results to crow about.
Also on tap at Tuesday's
Executives' Club event to talk about "Capitalizing on information
to drive innovation" are: Siemens Corporate Research CEO
Paul Camuti; Wrigley chief innovation officer Surinder Kumar;
British Telecom Americas President Chuck Pol, and Microsoft's
new Midwest general manager, Janet Kennedy.
Since arriving from
Washington, D.C., over a year ago, Illinois Information Technology
Association President Fred Hoch has reinvigorated the ITA.
Thursday, Hoch hosts
about 400 people at ITA's seventh annual CityLights awards at
Galleria Marchetti. The program honors Chicago tech leaders across
Hoch is my
choice for an award. Go to www.itacitylights.com
for more info.
University chemistry Professor Thomas Meade is
one happy fellow. His Evanston-based start-up, Ohmx Corp., won
a $150,000 grant as part of Gov. Blagojevich's drive to build
Illinois' homeland security industry. Ohmx aims to develop a low-cost
biosensor to screen for biological threats like anthrax. The Illinois
Technology Enterprise Center at Northwestern also invested $25,000.
CDW CEO John
Edwardson speaks Wednesday at the Society for Information
Management lunch at Spiaggia. Edwardson describes how CDW applies
technology to stay ahead of the competition.
Partners VC Matt McCall launches a new blog titled
VC Confidential. It gives a look behind the venture capital curtain.
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.