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Commonfund Employs Uncommon DoTell Interactive

Commonfund, a “manager of managers” with just over $25 billion in assets, has deployed Net Technologies’ DoTell Interactive system on its Web site.

Commonfund, a “manager of managers” with just over $25 billion in assets, has deployed Net Technologies’ DoTell Interactive system on its Web site. DoTell allows the firm’s money managers to call in spoken commentary that is routed through compliance and then posted to the site in a matter of moments. When speaking of the importance of a service like DoTell, Jud Koss, managing director, says that it is another means of attracting its clients to the site and holding their attention with “value-added” services.

In a typically unfinancial services explanation, Koss points to the critical theorist Marshall McLuhan’s notion that the “medium is the message,” explaining that Commonfund is trying to position itself “along with everybody else as a forward-thinking state-of-the-art technology firm.”

“Let’s say there is a Greenspan testimony today, and we might have a fixed-income manager commenting on that testimony. With DoTell, he can get a quick comment up there,” he explains. “There is a sense of urgency now to that comment, but in two days that new thing might become a ‘black banana.’ It’s stale so he just takes it down.”

Commonfund is using the DoTell system on a service bureau basis, where a manager picks up a phone and calls into Net Technologies’ server farm. The call is processed and can be uploaded directly to Commondfund’s site in a streaming format. Commonfund, just like any financial institution, defers the managers’ comments, first, to its compliance team, which is e-mailed hyperlinks to the comments the message is approved, the vendor will kick it out to the fund manager’s site.

Net Technologies also sells an in-house version of DoTell, which Morgan Stanley Dean Witter has been using at its fixed-income desk since October. The vendor was founded in 1995 by ceo Lynda Meyer, formally of Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, as an Internet consulting firm for financial services. After establishing its consulting practice, Meyer says she has spent a good part of the last two years preparing the company’s packaged products.

Along with DoTell, Net Technologies has readied a Roth IRA calculator for the Web, and is beta-testing a retirement calculator.

The company is preparing to release by the second quarter both an education savings and an estate planning calculator.

Already a satisfied client, Commonfund is also preparing to go live with Net Technologies last product, InstaManager, a multimedia streaming presentation format for investment managers.

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