TeleT merging with Premiere Technologies Towson start-up firm wants to get products to market faster


September 20, 1996|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,SUN STAFF

TeleT Communications LLC, a Towson start-up company developing Internet-related telephone technology, yesterday agreed to merge with a bigger Atlanta firm, hoping that the alliance will help it move its products to market faster.

Nineteen-month-old TeleT had been one of the area's promising technology firms and had attracted top-tier venture capital firms to finance its early development. The 20-employee company yesterday became part of Premiere Technologies Inc., a network management software firm that went public in March at $18 a share and hit $50 a share by May before settling back. Premiere closed yesterday at $24.25, up $1.75.

The deal joins TeleT's technology for adding elements of voice communication to computers with Premiere's software for managing the rest of data-oriented computer networks.

"We had an opportunity to leverage our technology with theirs to bring a much more exciting product to market sooner," said Steve Granek, TeleT's marketing vice president. He said TeleT still had negligible sales and was wary of competitors catching up with its innovations if it dithered.

"We don't know of anyone doing it, but we have no illusions either," he said. "It was mostly a good idea."

Selling now apparently was a lucrative idea as well.

The price of the deal was not disclosed. But one of TeleT's stockholders, Massachusetts-based CMG Information Services Inc., said it would take a $7.5 million gain on a $750,000 investment in TeleT. CMG bought its TeleT stock in April, and neither company has disclosed what percentage of TeleT the larger company owned.

CMG's public disclosures note only that it bought a minority stake.

TeleT's core idea has been to develop software that uses computers to make telephones more powerful and convenient. While its products have fallen short of letting users place telephone calls over the Internet, they were inspired by the same convergence of communications technologies that is driving the mergers of much larger companies.

TeleT says its DialWeb product is the first application ever developed to let users update voice files on World Wide Web pages using only a touch-tone telephone. The company believed it could capitalize by making it easier and faster to update the sound on Web pages.

Amail, TeleT's other product, allows users to add audio to electronic mail messages, even messages sent to many people at once. In effect, it allows a personal computer to function as a voice mail system via the Internet, and lets a single "caller" send the same voice message to 100 people simultaneously for the cost of a single 800-number phone call.

Granek said TeleT's president, Gregg Freishtat, and chief technology officer, James Leitess, will stay with Premiere, along with a substantial but undetermined number of the rest of the work force. But he said Premiere has not decided whether the jobs will remain in the Baltimore area.

Pub Date: 9/20/96

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