ASP Gains Powerful Wireless Investors

SAN FRANCISCO (05/04/2000) - ASP (application service provider) SkyDesk Inc. today announced it has received a total of US$20 million in funding from two leading wireless technology specialists. Qualcomm Inc., the U.S. evangelist of mobile telecommunications standard CDMA (code division multiple access) and Japanese phone service reseller Hikari Tsushin Inc. have each invested $10 million in SkyDesk, according to the U.S. ASP.

SkyDesk intends to use the investments to enter what will be a new market for the company - specific wireless and handheld services, Jim Till, vice president of marketing at SkyDesk, said in a phone interview today. The company intends to build on its existing services and work closely with its two new investors to develop the new offerings, he added.

SkyDesk's flagship online data protection and storage service @Backup, like the company's other products, is available via an annual subscription. Customers effectively outsource the storage, retrieval, backup and migration of their data on the Internet where the information is stored securely. SkyDesk offers its services directly through its own Web site and indirectly via existing partners such as Dell Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Excite@Home Inc. and Intuit Inc.

Both individual users and small to medium-sized companies can use SkyDesk's services to securely and efficiently transmit large amounts of data over the Internet, Till said. The company is also targeting its current and future services at another market -- laptop users at large enterprises looking to gain quick and efficient access to their company's stored data via the Internet, for instance, a large corporate's field sales force, he added.

Till gave an example of how such ASP services could work in the wireless world.

Suppose a user is traveling abroad and his or her PDA (personal digital assistant) becomes corrupted and therefore useless since the user is unable to access any of the data stored on the device.

If the user had already subscribed to SkyDesk's backup service, they would be able to download from the Internet a securely-stored backup copy of the data contained on the corrupted device to a new PDA. Such a backup would also contain the "personality" of the device -- the features the user has specified as their particular preferences thereby personalizing the PDA - so all those settings would automatically appear on the new device.

Known up until the beginning of March as @Backup, SkyDesk has completed three official rounds of financing to raise a total of $57 million, Till said. The company doesn't count today's $20 million in funding as an official financing round, he added.

Existing SkyDesk investors include storage specialists EMC Corp. and Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC) as well as Cendant Corp., American Express Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.

Both Qualcomm and Hikari Tsushin approached SkyDesk about engaging in strategic relationships after the ASP announced it intended to file for an IPO (initial public offering) on March 10, Till said. SkyDesk has yet to announce a specific date for its IPO, but the company is continuing with the process of going public as it had initially planned, he added.

"Companies delivering real value to paying customers don't have to worry so much about day-to-day changes in the financial climate," Till said, responding to a question as to whether or not the recent swings in the stock markets had caused the company to reconsider going ahead at the present time with its IPO.

SkyDesk has a trio of services due to appear during the course of this year.

@Backup WorkGroup Edition, a Web console for managing data protection needs within small to medium-sized businesses and corporate workgroups, is due to ship this quarter, Till said.

Now in public beta, Net-based SkyFiler, which enables workgroups of users to securely share and work together on documents anytime and anywhere, should be generally available within a matter of weeks, according to Till.

Finally, SmartClone, which automates the process of upgrading computers by pulling all of the old data and personality off an old PC and downloading it to the new system, should be in use by the fourth quarter of this year. SkyDesk expects to make a SmartClone announcement in conjunction with its hardware partner or partners in the coming months, Till added.

SkyDesk, based in San Diego, California, can be reached at +1-858-455-3500 or via the Internet at http://www.skydesk.com/. Hikari Tsushin, based in Tokyo, can be reached via the Internet at http://www.hikari.co.jp/. Qualcomm, also based in San Diego, California, can be reached at +1-858-587-1121 or via the Internet at http://www.qualcomm.com/.

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