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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 22, 2002

Telecom firm relocates to Hawai'i

By John Duchemin
Advertiser Staff Writer

Iris Wireless, a telecommunications software company from New England, has moved its headquarters to Honolulu after receiving venture capital from Hawai'i investors.

Iris, formerly based in Greenwich, Conn., is setting up a research-and-development center here and wants to use Hawai'i as a base for international expansion, said chief executive Peter Rinfret.

"We're still under U.S. laws, but we're a relatively short distance from Asia," he said.

The company has designed software that lets wireless phones, handheld computers and other communications hardware exchange text messages despite different protocols, Rinfret said.

He views Asia as a good market because of the explosion of wireless technology in heavily populated countries such as Japan, China, India and Korea.

The company has attracted $9 million from Mainland and Hawai'i investors including PacifiCap, a Honolulu venture capital firm responsible for about one-third of a second-stage venture investment into Iris this fall, Rinfret said.

He and several key officers are moving here. Iris eventually could have about 10 employees in Hawai'i, including most top officers and key programmers, Rinfret said. Iris also wants to move its network operations center from Nashville.

Rinfret helped found several telecommunications companies, including Pontio Communications, a Texas local-exchange carrier sold to El Paso Energy in 2000. He began his career in Washington as a legislative assistant to Sen. Orin Hatch, a White House intern under President Carter and an assistant to Ambassador Robert S. Strauss.

Reach John Duchemin by email at jduchemin@honoluluadvertiser.com or by phone at 525-8062.