Vitessa abruptly closes its doors - seattlepi.com
Aug 15, 2018
Vitessa abruptly closes its doors
E-commerce infrastructure provider had 'right idea at wrong time'
By JOHN COOK, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
10:00 pm PDT, Wednesday, April 18, 2001
After raising more than $40 million in venture capital, e-commerce infrastructure provider Vitessa Corp. is in the process of shutting down. Executives at the Seattle company, formerly known as EC Direct, did not return calls seeking comment. Chief Financial Officer Steve Coburn also refused to comment when contacted at the Vitessa headquarters yesterday at 83 S. King St. But investors in the privately held company said Vitessa is no longer in business. "They just couldn't make a go of it," said one investor who asked not be identified. Maury Lane , director of public relations at Austin, Texas-based Vignette, which invested $23 million in Vitessa last year, said Vitessa's fate would have been different if the business-to-consumer Internet market and the U.S. economy had not slowed down. "Vitessa was a good company with the right ideas but really at the wrong economic time," he said. At one point, Vitessa employed close to 200 people at its headquarters in Pioneer Square. Yesterday, a skeleton crew of employees milled around the dark office. Boxes and a couple of newspaper articles on the dot-com collapse sat on top of the empty reception desk. In the first eight months of last year, Vitessa hired 90 people. After the hiring binge, Vitessa said it still had openings for 70 more positions in August. But like many fast-growing Internet companies, Vitessa hit a speed bump and was never able to recover. The company lost several customers because of the dot-com collapse and missed its fourth-quarter revenue targets by about $1 million, an investor said. Vitessa, founded in the Kirkland home of David Mullan in 1997, managed the e-commerce transaction engines for sites such as PeoplePC. It also created a technology that allowed shoppers to buy items after clicking on banner advertisements. The Vitessa service was still working at PeoplePC as of yesterday, a PeoplePC spokeswoman said. In November, Ramp Ventures -- a Seattle consulting firm led by former Homegrocer.com Chief Executive Terry Drayton -- said it was working with Vitessa to create new consumer e-commerce applications. Executives at Ramp Ventures could not be reached for comment. Investors in Vitessa include Vignette Corp., Bowman Capital, Media Technology Ventures and GE Capital.