Right Hemisphere gets VC boost

Venture capital is a rare commodity in New Zealand. Mark Thomas, head of 3D tool developer Right Hemisphere, has some advice for local software entrepreneurs: follow the money.

Venture capital is a rare commodity in New Zealand. Mark Thomas (pictured), head of 3D tool developer Right Hemisphere, has some advice for local software entrepreneurs: follow the money.

Right Hemisphere has been doing just that, getting a funding injection from Sequoia Capital, a California VC firm. The companies were introduced through the efforts of expatriate New Zealanders in California, but Thomas says Sequoia wouldn’t be interested in most New Zealand companies unless they had offices nearby.

“They’re very specific about that,” says Thomas. “They have a test called the ‘bicycle test’, which means that they must have an office within a bike ride of them.”

Happily for Right Hemisphere, CEO Michael Lynch operates from the company’s Silicon Valley offices in San Ramon, close enough to meet the “bicycle test”.

“It really just comes down to research, and what they found was that a company has about a 10% chance of making it,” says Thomas. “But with the bicycle test that goes up dramatically.

“The lesson there is, if you want US capital, then it’s important to have a significant US presence.”

Other Sequoia investments include industry pinups such as Cisco, Apple, Electronic Arts, Google, PayPal, Symantec, Yahoo! and MP3.com.

The company says it receives about 20 ideas each day, and typically invests in eight to 12 each year.

Thomas won’t discuss the details of the deal, other than to say that Sequoia has a minority shareholding in Right Hemisphere.

“We’re really low-key on it. It doesn’t represent any form of success necessarily,” he says. “There’s still a lot of hard work — we’ve got to go and grow a market yet.”

Right Hemisphere is a developer of visual information systems. This month the company released Deep Publish, its product that allows embedding of 3D data and animations into Microsoft Office documents. The documents can be viewed using the Deep View plug-in for Office apps.

Other Right Hemisphere products include Deep Server, Deep Paint and Deep Paint 3D.

Thomas says Sequoia’s involvement is more than just financial. The firm is well-connected in Silicon Valley and able to open doors.

Right Hemisphere will use the investment to expand its business, including sales and marketing in the US, he says.

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