A person familiar with the situation said Pond is now backing the company, which allows businesses or organizations to post web-based displays on video screens in public places, reducing the cost of displays and expanding the choice. A spokesman for the company declined to comment on Pond’s investment.
A former CEO of NB Tel, Pond is now the chairman of Marine Partners in Saint John and is known as the savviest tech investor in the region. That standing only increased earlier this year when Radian6, a company backed by Pond, sold out to Salesforce.com for $371 million.
It’s the second coup this year for ScreenScape, which in July secured a $6 million investment from Hartco of Montreal and gave the publicly traded IT company two seats on its board.
The investment is also unusual for Pond, who is known for investing in companies in his native New Brunswick. He has recently been talking of the need for a more regional approach to tech development, saying there are six cities that we should highlight – Saint John, Fredericton, Moncton, Bathurst, Halifax and Charlottetown. He appears to be backing up this strategy with his wallet.
ScreenScape is the brainchild of Mark Hemphill, a native of Summerside who previously worked in Toronto for e-commerce services provider Ariba Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif. Hemphill returned to the Island to teach new media at UPEI, and ended up coming up with the idea for ScreenScape.
The company takes an old technique (broadcasting corporate messages on video screens in public venues) and modernizes it to bring in the reality of the Internet. The customer supplies the screen and pays $10 a month for one location, and can update the display from any device connected to the Internet. That allows the customer to easily update displays, share material and incorporate content from the Internet – including video from sites such as YouTube.
The company now has about 30 employees, 20 of them in the Charlottetown headquarters. It also has about 40 investors, most of whom have sunk money into the outfit over the last two years.