Digital billboard co MagInk completes $27m round

The round was led by VantagePoint Venture Partners of the US.

Start-up Magink Display Technologies announced today that it had closed a $27 million financing round. VantagePoint Venture Partners of the US led the round, with existing investors Formula Ventures of Israel and Japan Asia Investment Co., Ltd. (JAIC) participating.

SixEye owns 53% of MagInk, which was founded in 2000 by CEO Ran Poliakine. MagInk has development centers in Israel and the UK, and its sales and marketing headquarters is in the US.

MagInk develops and markets reflective digital ink technology, considered a global breakthrough for the billboard industry. The reflective technology makes to possible for the first time, to use digital displays outdoors, without the need for energy input during the display period. Costs are substantially lower than for existing display technologies. The proprietary technology has a very wide range of applications, including digital furniture, billboards, and building materials.

Poliakine predicts that the company's technology will change the entire urban environment. In 2003, MagInk signed an agreement with Mitsubishi Corp. (TSE:8058), considered the global leader in LED-technology large flat panel displays. MagInk's revenue from the contract is estimated at $10 million. Mitsubishi Electric Corp. (TSE:6503) manufacture's MagInk's products, which are sold commercially around the world.

MagInk's technology is basically an ink that changes color at a computer command. The company's is presently focusing on the billboard market, but it envisions entering other industries. Poliakine says, "Imagine wall paint that changes the color of your office and living room at a computer command. In the future, it will be possible to send digital broadcasts without the need of televisions. That's the vision."

"Globes": How does it work?

Poliakine: "It's an ink that doesn’t dry, enclosed in a plastic card, and changes display by computer command. Another advantage is that the ink doesn’t use energy."

Poliakine says the company would use the proceeds from the financing round to build a global distribution and marketing network to consolidate the company as the global leader in its field.

Although MagInk's future appears promising, it has been suffering from an internal struggle between its shareholders in recent months, which almost paralyzed it. Poliakine declined to elaborate, saying only, "It's true that there was a dispute between the various shareholders, but we reached an agreement as part of the financing round. I cannot go into details, but the company can now move forward. Even when the company was in trouble, its products continued to be sold in Japan."

VPVP venture partner Duncan Davidson said, "MagInk has extraordinary technology. The first digital color ink in the world has the potential to fundamentally change many industries, beginning with the billboard market. We utilized our excellent relationship with Formula Ventures to make this investment, which will undoubtedly be expressed in the future."

Published by Globes [online] - - on July 14, 2004

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