Postcard Perfect

Atomic Imaging Buys Minority Interest in eMedia to Expand Their Interactivity in Public Spaces
by Dan Page

Postcards from the edge, in a cybersense, represent the new strategic partnership between Ari Golan’s Atomic Imaging and John Tillman’s eMedia.

Interactive visionary Golan’s 15-year old new media firm has become the largest minority shareholder in Tillman’s three-year old interactive company. An exchange of private stock and some cash will provide eMedia with capital, working space and dedicated technical manpower. eMedia’s greatest success has been creating interactive terminal machines (ITMs), or kiosks, at some 50 tourist and entertainment locales nationwide. There, visitors can send an Email or printed postcard with a picture of themselves, a 10-second audio message, a text message, and a stock photo of the host venue.

Or as Tillman likes to put it, “We bring the power and the convenience of the Internet to public spaces.”

With the strategic partnership, Tillman expects to double in physical size and to quadruple revenues.

The deal puts the technical departments of the two companies side-by-side to enjoy synergy of proximity in an idea incubator. Besides its large staff of producers, programmers and graphics, Atomic Imaging hired two additional developers to work on eMedia ITMs.

Noah Sepsenwol, director of Internet technology, leads the project and programmer is Steve Benjamin, one of the new hires.

Around Aug. 15, eMedia will move into 4,000-sq. ft of office space in a rehabbed building in Atomic Imaging’s production complex near Goose Island.

Atomic Imaging started providing technical services to Tillman in 1997. As the demands for Atomic services grew, Golan saw the potential and profit of a more tangible involvement.

“Right now, eMedia represents about 10% of what we do. With time that will undoubtedly increase,” he said. “There will be a lot of research and development. We all will take an active role in brainstorming with our top rocket scientists. We are obviously very committed to eMedia’s success and believe in their work.”

Tillman credited Golan for helping save his business from stalling at a critical point in its first year of business, when one of eMedia’s founding partners and technical gurus left the company for Canada to pursue other ventures. Golan stepped in and lent support and technical expertise. This kind of interactive partnering is nothing new for Golan. He has had a number of successes over the years with JamTV, which became Web giant eMusic; Cognitive Concepts, a children’s CD-ROM and Web-based distance learning venture, and most recently the popular site.

Providing services is still the most significant part of Atomic Imaging; investment in products and other ventures ranks second. Through eMedia and other prospects he would like to see those ratios flip in the next few years.

Atomic Imaging is located at 1501 N. Magnolia, phone, 312/649-1800; eMedia is present at 2105 W. Irving Park Rd.; phone, 773/267-8500.

AUGUST 8, 2000

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