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FotoNation founder sells company - again

FotoNation's founder sold his camera software company at the height of the dot-com boom - then bought it back, and sold it again.

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(FORTUNE Small Business) -- When Eran Steinberg agreed to sell FotoNation, a maker of camera software, to Tessera Technologies (TSRA) for $29 million in February, he ceded control over his business for the second time.

Steinberg, 46, started the camera software company in 1997, sold it at the height of the dot-com craze to Zing.com, then bought it back in 2002 after the bubble burst and Zing.com closed.

Once back at the helm, Steinberg focused on developing technology to address common photographic challenges - red eye, dust particles, poor lighting conditions - and enticed customers such as Samsung and Pentax to use his software in 80 million digital cameras. FotoNation's recent inventions include tools that enable cameras to focus on faces and detect smiles, which helped to double revenues in 2007 to $14 million.

Once Tessera, a $195.7-million-a-year business that creates miniaturization technologies for electronics, noticed FotoNation's explosive growth, it wanted to make a deal. Steinberg remains in charge, and he is preparing for FotoNation's next growth spurt - this time among the world's 3.3 billion cellphone users.

"In 2008," he says, "our software will become a check-box item for camera phones."  To top of page

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