Startup

TechImage

has been saved from the abyss. The startup, which trimmed 75% of its staff in the last couple of months, has raised $2 million from shareholders and from an international banking corporation as a bridging loan,

Ha'aretz

reports.

Company chairman Yoav Navon said the loan will be used to pay workers and suppliers. As the company spends less than $100,000 a month, the money should last until the end of 2001. We expect to make money during the year, so the bridging loan should be enough," Navon said.

TechImage was founded in 1994 by Ezra Harel and Yair Winkler. The company develops graphic software for the design and animation of human faces.

In 1999, TechImage changed its model to focus the development of an Internet media player. It also roped in Yossi Vardi, one of the cofounders of ICQ parent company Mirabilis, as an investor.

By May 2000 TechImage had raised $5 million at a $30 million company valuation from Arison Investments,

Harel Insurance Investments

, Businessman Beny Steinmetz's

STI Ventures

and the Aura venture capital fund.

But that was the end of its financial rope. In November 2000 the company 12 employees. This week it fired 20 more and teetered on the brink of collapse. In hope of a last-minute reprieve, the company retained only 11 development staff.

The reprieve has apparently arrived. Navon says TechImage will focus on developing applications together with strategic partners, operating through a subsidiary or a joint venture. A strategic partner from the wireless sector could use our animation technology, and in return could provide the market and the money to develop the application it wants. We will set our development team to work and will license the use of the technology, he said.