Orbit Hires Panayi, Readies New Fund –

NEW YORK – In a move to expand its domestic and international presence, Internet incubator and venture firm Orbit Capital in late January hired Andreas Panayi as president, along with Joyce Yune as senior vice president and Curtis Ehrgott as chief technology officer, said James Nelson, Orbit’s chairman and chief executive.

Panayi, who previously was the East Coast co-managing director for Luminant Worldwide, an Internet professional services firm, has seven years of Internet-related experience and possesses the right skills to help the firm expand, Nelson said. “He has relationships all over the world from his previous experiences, and that is going to help us as we start setting up offices abroad.”

In his new capacity, Panayi will be part of the management team, helping Orbit recruit and set business strategies for portfolio companies, as well as assist with the marketing and branding of dotcom companies, he said. As founder and managing director of Poppe Tyson Interactive, a spinoff of Poppe Tyson Advertising, he led that firm’s drive to establish offices in London, Hong Kong, Sydney, Australia, Sao Paulo, Brazil and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “We were the first U.S. Internet marketing company to expand overseas,” he noted. “I want to build on this experience to set up a network that will allow Orbit to begin looking at international deals and make sure we have exposure to that market.”

Founded in January 1999, Orbit Capital has been making investments with its parent company’s money, closing five deals last year. Nelson hopes Orbit will soon be able to incubate or invest in 10-12 deals a year and has plans to open a West Coast affiliate, as well as offices in Europe.

Meanwhile, Orbit plans to launch a $100 million fund in April or May, which will be named the Orbit Capital Fund or Orbit Venture Fund, Nelson said (VCJ, January 1999, page 31). The fund will back companies that leave its incubator and invest in outside opportunities at all stages of development.

Yune will work on business development and M&A transactions, while Ehrgott will be responsible for supervising and reviewing the technology on Orbit’s in-house projects and potential incubated companies.

Payani’s previous employer, Luminant, acquired Brand Dialogue, where he had been president and CEO. Yune joins Orbit from Pricewaterhouse Coopers, where she was responsible for M&A, private equity and corporate advisory activities in Russia. During her assignment there, she helped advise the Russian Securities and Exchange Commission in its efforts to support the development of the country’s primary equity market. Ehrgott worked most recently at Greenwich Associates, where he was chief information officer, and prior to that, he was at the consulting firms, Andersen Consulting and McKinsey & Co.

Orbit is an affiliate of the Orbitex Group, a global financial services company and international investment adviser, which has over $14 billion under management. Orbit provides development stage dotcom companies with a single source of capital, in addition to operational, marketing and strategic planning resources.