Friday, November 13, 2009

There is money in pictures!

One Australian that is consistently punting on imagery is Stuart Nixon, of ER Mapper fame. He started in 1989 with the invention of the image compression algorithm and creation of software for processing imagery on low cost personal computers. He then followed on with the Image Web Server to enable efficient, and probably still unsurpassed, capability to serve large image files over the Internet to web browsers. The company and all its technology is now in hands of ERDAS Group, after Stuart sold it for undisclosed sum in 2007, but his love affair with pixels has not finished there.

Soon after parting with his old venture Stuart started a new company: NearMap. It developed automated process for fast creation of very high resolution photomaps from aerial imagery (patents pending). The ultimate goal for the company is to cover 700 cities across the World with photomaps updated at least on a monthly basis.

Looks like Stuart Nixon is on the money again with his new idea. NearMap is just about to launch a new service, in competition with Google and other online map providers. Meantime, he sold the company mid last year to Perth based Ipernica for “a job” plus $4 million in cash, plus $12 million worth of Ipernica shares (60 million at a deemed issue price of $0.20 per share) and 12.5 million Ipernica options at a strike price of $0.40, with a two year expiry period. Even with today’s price of Ipernica at $0.12 it is still cool $10 million return. Not bad, not bad at all…