Numerical Design Ltd. (NDL), a 3D graphics and game engine technology company, has created the position of chief operating officer, filling the post for the first time with an executive from NetOctave.

David Brame, formerly senior vice president of operations at NetOctave, says he’d been looking for a COO-type position around the Triangle. Brame, who’s already on the job, will be in charge of sales and administration for the company.

“The reason NDL was interested in getting someone with my experience was so it can solve some problems related to finances, as well as facilities and communications,” Brame tells Local Tech Wire. “But they also wanted someone that had sales experience. The real drive is to expand market share.”

Brame brings more than 25 years of high-level management experience to NDL. Before NetOctave, he held the vice president of sales positions for Ganymede Software and Wandel & Goltermann Technologies. At those two companies, Brame managed programs that increased sales from 60 to 500 percent over two to three years.

He hopes he can do the same for NDL, creator of the NetImmerse graphics engine and game development toolkit. Brame says his new role will relieve John Austin, president and chief executive officer, from working overtime.

“John’s role will not really be changing, although he’s been doing not double, but triple or quadruple duty,” Brame explains. “In terms of the managing of sales responsibilities and trying to grow the business internally, from that perspective, his role is changing. But in terms of overall responsibilities as a CEO, that’s not changing.”

While Austin will surely be relieved to relinquish some of his duties to Brame, he also welcomes his new COO’s expertise in growing a company.

“David brings to NDL a tremendous amount of experience driving growth for rapidly expanding companies,” Austin said in a statement. “We’re delighted that he will be a central part of our growth strategy.”

Expanding in more ways than one

Brame says his primary focus will be in the area of sales…producing revenue, growing the pipeline and expanding the market share…in addition to the primary responsibilities of a COO. He says he also will be looking into expanding NDL’s physical space as the company grows. Currently, NDL is located on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, where Austin lives.

“My belief is that within the next six to nine months, we’ll have to do that,” Brame says of the company’s expansion. “NDL has been here a good while and is bursting at the seams. But we’re looking to stay in Chapel Hill…there’s no reason to disrupt that. There is enough good space here, so there’s no reason to try to leave, as I can see.”

In addition to NDL’s physical expansion, the company will be hiring more employees, Brame says, but only as funding permits. In addition to Brame and Austin, the executive team consists of Lars Bishop, Chad Robertson, Robert Whitton and Herman Kaiser. In total, the company currently employs 18…and counting.

“That’s an absolute certain,” Brame says of hiring more employees. “One thing I like about NDL is they have a track record and understand how to act as a startup. In startup mode, you have to know how to spend and how not to spend.”

Privately held NDL has previously received funding from Intel. And while he says the company is actively seeking more money, the decision was made to go ahead and hire a COO.

“We are actually in the process of searching out funding, but felt that this position should be filled regardless,” Brame says. “Some of my contacts in venture capital will help as well,” he adds.

Many ties to Chapel Hill

NDL, a cash positive company with revenues of $2 million plus, recently presented at the CED’s Venture 2002 event in Chapel Hill and has said it would like to secure $4 million to add to the capital it’s received from Intel.

The company was founded in 1983 by Turner Whitted, formerly with Bell Labs, and Whitton, formerly of Ikonas Graphics. Whitted is currently chairman of the board, and Whitton is NDL’s chief financial officer. Austin joined the company in 1998 from Hewlett-Packard and had previously held positions with Division Inc. and Sun Microsystems. He also serves on the board, along with Whitton and Nick England.

Today NDL is primarily a tools provider, but in the past has played key consulting roles in diverse projects for clients such as Adobe Systems, IBM, the Environmental Protection Agency and Interactive Magic, a PC game developer and publisher. In addition to its main offices in Chapel Hill, the company also has a facility in Dublin, CA.

NDL maintains close ties with the computer science department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Whitted is an adjunct UNC faculty member, many staff members are alumni and company headquarters are less than a mile away from the computer science building on campus. These connections provide opportunities to incorporate into products the university’s research in computer graphics, imaging and virtual reality.

NDL has been responsible for major developments in 3D graphics technology incorporated into leading PC and 3D gaming software. The company’s NetImmerse graphics engine and game development software has been used for such titles as Mythic Entertainment’s “Dark Age of Camelot,” Irrational Games’ “Freedom Force,” Totally Games’ “Star Trek Bridge Commander” and Bethesda Softworks’ “The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.”

Numerical Design Limited: