Ensuring that devices don't lose data
A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:
What: Datalight, based in Bothell
What it does: Develops software installed on cellphones to help store and retrieve data, such as photos, music and e-mail.
Who: CEO Roy Sherrill started the company 23 years ago after working at Boeing, where he helped make computers on jet fighters more reliable.
Behind the scenes: Datalight's software manages a device's flash memory to ensure it won't lose data if it's dropped or loses power. It also is responsible for minimizing the time it takes to load data. "When those things fail on you, it's very painful. If it's personal data, it's one thing, but if it's corporate data or confidential data, it's another," Sherrill said. "We see it becoming a very large market."
Progression: Datalight has worked with Canon, Intel and BMW. Now, it focuses on the mobile-phone industry as devices become more high-tech and require more storage. "Flash memory used to be really expensive ... but now it's almost free. It's causing more and more devices to have storage in them," Sherrill said.
Customers: Sherrill is reluctant to list his customers, but said Datalight works work with many of the top five cellphone makers, and with Danger, the maker of the T-Mobile Sidekick, and Texas Instruments.
Competition: Samsung, Intel, Microsoft and others develop similar software, he said, but Datalight has been able to develop a more finely tuned product. Oftentimes, another company will be able to get good reliability, but then poor performance. Balancing both is difficult.
Revenues: Datalight receives a license fee for each device that gets the software. In 2006, the company had revenues of $5.2 million.
Funding: Sherrill has never raised any capital but is now looking for funding to expand the 35-person company. "We've been productive and profitable, but we are going to need some cash if we want to grow. We can grow at 20 to 30 percent a year but the market is growing faster than that," he said.
— Tricia Duryee