There taps new funding, embarks on new mission

About-face for online world There almost complete as company will focus on military partnerships.


In the latest development at Silicon Valley-based There, Inc., creators of the hybrid online meeting ground and social space called There, a venture capital fund from Israel (with other worldwide locations) has stepped in to prop up once-pure consumer play.

The new owners of There, Jerusalem Venture Partners, in addition to allocating $14 million in funding, made it clear that it intends to work with a new set of goals. In a statement, one of the few remaining members of the There start-up team, Robert Gehorsam, said, "[Our] mission remains the same as it was when we began life as There…What is different, however, is that we see a tremendous opportunity in using this technology to address a wide range of real-world problems, from military and homeland security training and mission-rehearsal, and extending over time to enterprises and educational institutions." Gehorsam has been appointed CEO of There's new parent company, Forterra Systems, Inc.

There will continue to operate its consumer/game application, but will direct more of its energies toward solutions compatible with uses in the post-9/11 world. "Ultimately, our networked environment will integrate real-world systems to provide powerful new types of collaboration environments, including command-and-control systems for military and emergency response customers," Gehorsam elaborated.

The last time There made headlines was back in May when it alerted the industry and subscribers that it was reevaluating the company mission and was, in fact, considering ending the consumer application in favor of solely fulfilling contracts with the military complex and others.

However, There COO Steve Victorino told Wired News that the company would actually be directing funds toward bolstering the consumer service. "You will see a new version scheduled to be released within the next few days, as well as several new enhancements and service changes that will enable the service to continue to operate and prosper," Victorino told Wired News.

Rounding out investors in the round of funding announced today are Sutter Hill Ventures and Chichen-Itza Ventures, both existing investors.

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