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Former Tivoli exec creates start-up

Just four months after his graceful exit from Tivoli, Frank Moss is now back in the highly-charged competitive start-up world.

Just four months after his graceful exit from Tivoli Systems--a subsidiary of IBM that he helped build into a leading management software maker--Frank Moss is now back in the highly charged, competitive start-up world.

"I'm really excited," Moss told CNET "[It's] really what I wanted to do when I left Tivoli. Being out there, and doing things that people think are impossible, and working with great people, is the most exciting thing that I like to do."

The new company, Austin, Texas-based Agillion, will use the Web to give small and medium-sized businesses "pay-as-you-grow" access to large business applications and services for building, finding, and serving customers, according to the firm.

Moss, who serves as chairman of the board, is launching the new company with his friend and colleague Steve Papermaster, who will be the firm's chief executive. Papermaster was the founder and former president, CEO, and chairman of the board of BSG, a systems integration consultancy that specializes in emerging technologies. Like Tivoli, it was bought by a bigger company, Medaphis, for $350 million.

Although he wouldn't give any details about the actual products and services the company will provide, Moss did say they will not be of the rent-an-application type, made popular by Lotus Development's Instant Teamroom, offered through an ISP, and built on Lotus Notes and Domino software.

Instead of companies or individuals renting a "space" on the Web where they can gather for collaborative work, Agillion customers will use customer-focused business applications, paying on an incremental basis. That price that will increase as the company's revenue increases.

The former Tivoli executive decided to start Agillion because of a personal experience at Tivoli before the IBM acquisition in 1996.

"At the time, when we were about a $12 million company we wanted to automate our business processes, as they put it nowadays," Moss said.

Moss's IT people told him the company could either buy small systems and tie them together and hope the cluster holds together, or "go the distance" and buy one big system and face major upgrades in a few years.

"Before IBM, we spent a lot of time and money doing this," he said.

His new company will provide the business applications to small companies facing the same problem or lacking an IT department. The firm will also manage those systems at a cost that reflects the size of the company, he said.

Moss and Papermaster seem to be putting their money where their ideas are, as the venture development firms that they head, Strategic Software Ventures LLC and Powershift Group, fund the start-up.

The funding should last awhile. Like Papermaster, Moss sold his company for millions--$743 million to be exact.

Additional information on Agillion and its products will be available in coming months, the company said. It is currently recruiting employees and business partners.