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Originally published Monday, January 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Interface

"Router" points the way to data

A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:

What: McObject, based in Issaquah

Who: Steve Graves, 48, president

What it does: Develops a tool that allows manufacturers to embed database objects into small electronics. The software acts like a network router, pointing the way to data stored on a device that users need.

"We don't write the application that runs the device," Graves said. "We build the tool that allows the developer to pull all the elements together in order to manage the information."

Where: The technology is used in, among other things, JVC music players and Philips and Siemens cellphones.

Device driver: With so many small devices on the market, McObject doesn't have anything close to a dominant market share. Its major competitor is not another vendor, but the idea that a manufacturer can create the application in-house. "Our biggest challenge from a business perspective," Graves said, "is educating the marketplace that it is more efficient to use our off-the-shelf solution than to do it themselves."

Employees: 15, all over the world. "Almost everyone works out of their home," Graves said. "It saves us money because we don't have to develop an infrastructure. We can tap into a wider talent pool, because we aren't confined to Seattle."

Conference room: A spread-out work force presents one challenge, Graves acknowledged: "It is a little harder to have a company meeting, because we aren't all in the same time zone."

Financials: The self-financed, private company declines to provide financial details. Graves said it has always operated in the black. "We had the idea in the mid-1990s but couldn't get started until 2001," he said. "After the Internet bubble burst, there wasn't very much venture capital available. So we put in the startup money ourselves."

Let's get small: Devices are getting smaller, but capacities are growing. The bottleneck for the creation of a database inside of, say, an earring likely won't come from what McObject or others like it create. "We've tested the process in applications well over a terabyte," Graves said. "There is no limit to the size of the database."

— Charles Bermant

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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