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In the Loop

Make sure you--and your gadgets--know what's going on.

Serial entrepreneur Fabrizio Capobianco, 36, doesn't scrimp on mobile gadgets. And the specter of unsynchronized address books, vanishing appointments and lagging file revisions that mobile warriors fear led him to found his latest venture, Funambol.

Capobianco often lugs his notebook computer, Windows Mobile smartphone and MP3 player. If he's traveling with his daughter, he might tote a DVD player to keep her distracted. At home, he roams between couch, office or kitchen with a tablet PC.

Capobianco himself splits his time between his home near Funambol's Redwood City, California, headquarters and his native Italy. Although he found a universal charger to keep all his gadgets juiced up, Capobianco was haunted by how to keep his address book, calendar and files synchronized and available to him, his family and his colleagues.

That vexation was the inspiration for Funambol, Capobianco's third startup, which is backed by $10.5 million in venture capital and staffed by 55 people. "At the end of the day, the devices are multiplying, but the data needs to be the same," he says. "The problem of synchronization was just so basic."

Funambol develops software for--you guessed it--keeping multiple address books, calendars and e-mail accounts up-to-date with each other. What makes it extra compelling is that it works with widely available internet services that offer address book and calendar functions, including AOL, Google and Yahoo!. Funambol also works with iPods and cell phones, which are often left out of the data synchronization equation.

Of course, there's more to business than contacts and e-mail. For that, Capobianco's company uses an internal web page where he collaborates with Funambol employees. The company also keeps customer relations files here, so they are a central resource that can be updated by everyone--no matter where they happen to be.

Heather Clancy,.a freelance journalist and consultant, has been covering the high-tech industry for close to 20 years.

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This article was originally published in the September 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: In the Loop.

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