This week, we launch a new feature in the Business/Technology section: Track Back, a follow-up to a company, person or issue featured in...

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This week, we launch a new feature in the Business/Technology section: Track Back, a follow-up to a company, person or issue featured in these pages in the past.


The company


Azaleos, based in Redmond


What’s new


The company, which helps midsize businesses manage their Microsoft-based corporate e-mail systems, is planning to announce today that it has received $6 million in a second round of venture capital. Ignition Partners led the round; Second Avenue Partners, which had invested about $1 million previously, also participated.


Back story


Azaleos was featured in an Interface (Seattle Times, April 11) shortly after its launch. Its product is an appliance that Azaleos manages remotely for a monthly fee. The appliance handles a company’s e-mail and deals with spam, viruses and reliability issues.


The founders, Roger Gerdes and Keith McCall, started the company after meeting on a chairlift at the Whistler, B.C., ski resort and later talking in the ski lodge during a blizzard.


Since then


Gerdes and McCall started their most recent venture-capital-raising tour in Silicon Valley and then later approached VCs here, including Ignition. It surprised them that they secured the money locally. “The Northwest is not known to be the VC hotspot,” Gerdes said. “We thought the valley would be the money play.”


But because much of Azaleos’ work centers on the Microsoft Exchange server, he said it was most helpful that many of Ignition’s partners have worked at Microsoft and “touched so many pieces of Microsoft technology.”


The capital will be used to expand the marketing and sales team and strengthen the part of Azaleos’ network operations that involves monitoring and managing the appliances.


Azaleos wouldn’t say how many more customers it has than the three it reported earlier, but it says thousands of workers are using its product.


The company also has grown, hiring five people since April, with plans to hire 30 more by the end of the year.


Gerdes said prior to installing the appliance, customers needed the equivalent of 1.25 people’s time maintaining their e-mail server. After installation, it’s down to .25.


The company’s message has stayed constant: “E-mail should be like phone service,” Gerdes said. “It should just work.”


— Tricia Duryee