A weekly column profiling companies and personalities.

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What:


Laplink, a Kirkland company developing file-transfer and synchronization technology



Who:


Thomas Koll, chairman and chief executive



Sound familiar?


Laplink should. The software company has been around for two decades and was the Bothell brainchild of Mark Eppley. But by 2003, it was burdened by debt and unable to generate more cash. Total revenue in 2002 was only $4.5 million.

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A new start:


Koll bought Laplink’s assets in 2003 for $1.5 million. He moved the offices to Kirkland and ramped up the work force from 20 employees to 34. Since then, Laplink has released six new products and updated its signature software, a file-transfer and PC-connectivity program called Laplink Gold.



Broadened focus:


Laplink’s new products include programs to help you access your PC from a Web-enabled device, sync your computer with a personal digital assistant and transfer files, programs and settings between computers. About two-thirds of Laplink customers are individuals. “We want to be a central brand for the computer user that they can trust,” Koll said.



A corporate background:


Koll was at Microsoft for 13 years, starting in its German office and rising to vice president of network-solutions group in Redmond. After helping establish Microsoft’s wireless strategy, he left the company in 2001 to become chief executive of Canadian wireless-computing company Infowave Software. He stepped down as CEO in 2002 but remains Infowave’s chairman.



Napster it ain’t:


Koll said that people older than 30 have fond memories of Laplink’s software, while those younger than 30 have no clue what the company does. Laplink’s work with peer-to-peer file sharing could change that. No, this isn’t the new Napster. The company’s ShareDirect program allows users to share any folders and files on their PCs, even through firewalls. The company’s largest development team is focused on peer-to-peer work. “I think the category will explode,” Koll said.



Not looking for funding yet:


So far, Koll has funded Laplink mostly with his own money. He isn’t interested in venture capital but hasn’t ruled it out. He expects Laplink will be profitable this year.



Quote:


“We are all connected to the Internet, but we are not connected with each other.”


— Kim Peterson