Bob Rosenschein
A twist of fate brings data just a click away.
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Bob Rosenschein has been in the software game for the past 24 years as an executive, consultant, and developer. But even armed with a degree in computer science from MIT, he did not know he was sitting on what might be this year's killer application. It was an unexpected phone call in 1998 from Yossi Vardi, the former chairman of ICQ, the Internet chat system that changed everything. At the time Rosenschein was contemplating what to do after leaving Accent Software Inc., which he founded. While there he developed a point-and-translate product that translated any word on a screen by alt-clicking on it. "I was considering my next opportunity, and Yossi called me one day out of the blue and said, 'Bob, I saw your point-and-translate product and my opinion is that you are sitting on 90 percent of a killer app...but it's not quite there,'" Rosenschein recalls. Yossi told him to make the technology client/server-based and Web enabled, thus turning around the paradigm on obtaining information. That suggestion shaped the current direction of Atomica Corp.'s enabling technology product, Answer Delivery. Rosenschein started GuruNet, and last year underwent a name change to Atomica when the company moved its focus from the consumer world to the corporate market. Since 1999 he has raised $32 million from a range of investors that included Vardi; Mort Meyerson, former CEO of Perot Systems Corp.; and Mark Tebbe, chairman of Lante Corp. Rosenschein, who shuttles between Atomica's research and development center in Israel and the company's headquarters in Burlingame, Calif., sees Atomica's XML-based technology as a way to provide enterprise companies with a new avenue to improve employee decision making and productivity, thus cutting search times by 50 percent. "Every word on the screen becomes 'smart,'" Rosenschein says, finding it hard to contain his enthusiasm. "When you alt-click on a word, up pops a window with information about that word. It could be client information, product, or anything that is needed to make getting information from a CRM, SFA, or ERP system better and faster." Unlike Microsoft Corp.'s Smart Tags, which allows users to access Web content or information stored on their computers by clicking on a keyword, Atomica's technology can be customized to access data from an enterprise's database or from Atomica's library. Rosenschein has lined up larger CRM software vendors, such as IBM Corp., PeopleSoft Inc., and Siebel Systems Inc., to distribute Atomica with their products. IBM also is planning to deploy Answer Delivery internally. Rosenschein says the 60-person company faces big challenges in a sluggish economy, but he is not deterred. "Companies are drowning in data and losing money in the time spent searching for that data," he says. "There is a better way for them."
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