Spokane Journal of Business

LineSoft sets its sights on broadband industry

Contracts currently sought would bring in three times revenue over last 12 months

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In the course of doubling in size this year, LineSoft Corp., the Spokane-based maker of software for power-line planning and design, has discovered a new market that it believes has the potential to account for tens of millions of dollars in additional revenues within two years.

Broadband-communications companies, which are looking to string fiber-optic lines on utility poles in a race to make that technology widely available, have begun buying LineSoft software that previously only interested power companies, LineSoft President and CEO Fred Brown says. Just as power companies use LineSofts primary product, LD-Pro, to determine the most effective way to supply power to a new customer, cable and broadband companies will use it to provide fiber-optic service.

Between the prospective customers in the broadband sector and the power industry, LineSoft currently is working on contracts that add up to three times our last 12 months revenue, Brown says. Its difficult to predict when those deals will be completed, but Brown expects to have them wrapped up in four months.

Brown foresees software for that aspect of the broadband market becoming a $1 billion industry in the next two years, and he hopes that LineSoft will garner a significant percentage of that business.

LineSoft already has inked a sizable contract to provide software to a Kansas City, Mo., broadband company called Digital Access Inc., Brown says.

With the broadband sector in mind, LineSoft plans to roll out a new software product this week called LD-Structure Calc. That software is set up to determine whether a group of utility poles has enough strength to support extra weight from additional lines.

Linda Hemingway, LineSofts vice president of marketing and business development, says LineSofts goal this year is to have a 200 percent increase in revenues, which would be in line with last years growth rate.

The company declines to release revenue figures.

Its staff size has grown proportionately, Hemingway says. The company has been adding workers weekly and now employs 176 people, 121 of whom are at its Spokane headquarters, she says.

Six months ago, the company employed about 120 people, about 90 of whom worked here.

The rest of the companys employees are located at LineSofts regional offices in Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Kan.; and Atlanta, Ga.; and at sales offices in Portland and Las Vegas. The company said earlier this year that it intends to hire more than 200 people within the next two years.

Says Brown, The market is asking for a lot of things from us right now.

Most recently, LineSoft landed a $1 million contract to provide LD-Pro software for line design in a region that one of its biggest customers, Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power Co., now serves following a merger with Central & South West Corp., of Dallas. American Electric Power will deploy 200 copies of LD-Pro for work in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

To handle anticipated growth in the broadband-communications market, LineSoft likely will partner with other companies that either maintain power lines or provide consulting services to utilities that own power lines, Brown says.

Earlier this year, LineSoft received $26 million from GFI Energy Ventures LLC, a Los Angeles-based venture-capital firm, to add employees and to develop an assortment of new software tools. In return, GFI gained one-third ownership of LineSoft.

Linn  Parish
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Editor Linn Parish has worked for newspapers and magazines since 1996, with the bulk of that time being at the Journal. A Montana boy who has called Spokane home for some time now, Linn likes Northwest trails, Deep South foods, and lead changes in the ninth inning.

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