additional 8% investment in WebTone Technologies Inc., bringing its stake in the private company to 12%.
WebTone, which sells software that facilitates customer service over the Internet, was founded in July 1997 by Michael C. McChesney. Mr. McChesney was also a founder of the pioneering Internet institution Security First Network Bank and the Internet software company it spawned, Security First Technologies. The bank was spun off and sold to Toronto-based Royal Bank in October 1998.
Mr. McChesney said he created WebTone to develop a technology platform that would support customer interaction through different delivery channels. He recognized the need for automated and integrated customer support while he was running Security First Network Bank, which used a manual e-mail response process that quickly overwhelmed support staff, a WebTone spokesman said.
WebTone's product line, which is scheduled to launch in two weeks, has been installed at Security First Network Bank and will be installed at a large insurance company by the end of this week, the spokesman said. The products include WebResponse, an e-mail response system that uses artificial intelligence; WebGuides, which are 15 forms for self-help on-line; and WebGram, secure e-mail software for on-line presentation of bank statements and other confidential documents. -- Adriana Senior