Small Company Eyes Big Role in Networking

Small Company Eyes Big Role in Networking

By Nick Wakeman
Staff Writer

Cut loose when its parent was bought last year, TimeBridge Technologies Inc. is leaning on acquisitions, state and local contracts and the commercial market to build itself into a formidable player in the networking and applications development world.

Bill Strang, TimeBridge's founder, president and chief executive, said he wants to repeat the success he had at Sylvest Management Systems Corp., which he helped launch in 1987 and nurture into a $100 million a year concern. Acquisition hungry Federal Data Corp. of Bethesda, Md., purchased Sylvest for $41 million in June 1997.

Lanham, Md.-based TimeBridge was a part of Sylvest FDC left behind. The TimeBridge unit was started in 1995 to go after commercial and state and local business - markets that did not interest FDC, Strang said.

"The division [also] was struggling and losing money," he said.

So Strang set out with 25 employees and less than $9 million in revenue. A bit more than one year later, the company has 160 employees and will break the $30 million mark in 1998, he said.

"By the end of the year, we should have over 200 employees," he said.

A relationship with Cisco Systems Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., has given TimeBridge an early boost as it pursues network integration work.

TimeBridge won a three-year, $20 million contract with the state of Maryland to supply and service Cisco products.

"That has helped them build quickly," said Greg Feldman, Cisco's channel manager.

By the year 2000, Strang envisions a company with $100 million in revenue working in predominantly three core areas: network integration, applications development and systems administration.

"We want to do high-end consulting work," he said.

If the company reaches the $100 million a year level in revenue, Strang said he will be faced with several choices, including going public as an independent company, consolidating with a like-sized company to go public or being acquired by a larger company.

In its first year, TimeBridge has made one acquisition, the purchase of Orbase Inc. of Denver, a $6 million a year database consulting firm. That acquisition helped bolster the consulting capabilities in the applications development area, especially for Oracle database design work.

Strang said he is working on four other deals, one of which should close by the end of the year.

"We are mostly looking at companies with revenues in the $5 million to $15 million range," he said.

Assisting the company in finding deals is Quarterdeck Investment Partners of Los Angeles, whose president, Jon Kutler, is a member of TimeBridge's board.

Currently, the company's business is about 65 percent consulting; the rest comes from hardware sales. Strang ultimately wants a 75-25 split.

In addition to the Maryland contract, TimeBridge has won a $1.3 million contract with the New Jersey to supply Cisco products and provide networking services.

TimeBridge also has relationships with Oracle Corp. of Redwood Shores, Calif., Silicon Graphics Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., and Sun Microsystems Inc., also of Mountain View.

"They have ramped up very quickly," said Greg Feldman, channel manager for Cisco. TimeBridge is on the verge of becoming a Cisco Gold Partner because of the level and quality of services the company can provide, Feldman said.

TimeBridge has sold about $12 million worth of Cisco products to government and commercial customers, Feldman said.

"The growth of our channel program [in the Washington area] has been built on what they have done," he said.

Network integration services are becoming increasingly important in the state and local market because more applications are becoming network intensive, said Rishi Sood, practice leader for the public sector at G2R Inc., a Mountain View market research firm.

Also driving the market is the desire of state and local governments to share more information among agencies, he said.

For example, different human services agencies want to integrate related programs, such as welfare and employment benefits, on a single network to provide better service.

"It used to be a stovepipe approach with each program having its own network," Sood said. "But now it is a more integrated approach for one stop shopping."

Strang said he likes the state and local market because it acts like a commercial market, which is where TimeBridge primarily wants to operate, he said.

Commercial business accounts for about 90 percent of the company's revenues, with the state and local business comprising the rest, Strang said.

The company wants to keep the predominantly commercial mix because of the higher market valuation a commercial company receives compared to a company that predominantly does business with the federal government, he said.

"We are shooting for a market valuation of two times revenues," he said.

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