Raymond Lau

PalmCentral.com, today Handango, Inc., is the one-stop source on the Internet for software and information dedicated to developers and users of Palm Computing personal digital assistants (PDAs). The site was established by Raymond Lau, Ph.D., in January of 1997 to provide a destination for the millions of Palm users worldwide. The success of Dr. Lau's vision is supported by the more than 5 million users (as of April, 1999) that have visited PalmCentral.com since its inception.

As the premier Palm community on the Internet, users visit PalmCentral.com to browse its vast collection of software, content and unique features and to interact with other Palm users around the world. Similarly, developers of Palm applications are attracted to PalmCentral.com as a forum to showcase and sell their applications to PalmCentral.com's rapidly growing user base.

Today, PalmCentral.com is Handango, the leading publisher of software for handheld and mobile platforms. Dr. Lau and the team at Handango are committed to providing handheld device owners with access to thousands of the latest software titles combined with the ease and convenience of on-line shopping, while providing software developers with significant exposure to their products.

"One of the most useful sites recommended is PalmCentral, a haven for owners of the PalmPilot personal digital assistant."
Wall Street Journal, September 17, 1998


Lau purchased a 3Com Pilot 5000 in December, 1996 and has been a PalmOS platform addict ever since. In January, 1997, he created a page listing software available for the Palm off of his homepage, then at the MIT Spoken Language Systems Group. In early September, 1997, Lau accepted an offer from SatelNet Communications to host the site and a second level domain name, palmpilotfiles.com, was obtained. Starting November, 1997, a small number of commercial banner advertising sponsorships was accepted to help support operating the site. In April 1998, the PalmPilot WebRing was acquired from its previous owner in an attempt to expand the reach of the site.

By June, the site was rebranded as PalmCentral.com and hosting was moved to Alabanza's facility at Frontier Global Center's Baltimore point-of-presence, for improve performance. PalmCentral.com received the 1998 Golden Palm Award in July.

In mid-September, PalmCentral.com moved to a dedicated server at Alabanza to help handle the increased load, which was averaging around 10,000 visitors per day at the time. The move proved clairvoyant because on September 17, an extremely positive article on the site was published in the Wall Street Journal.

On October 7, 1998, PalmCentral.com received its 3 million'th counted visitor, a major milestone insuring at least the medium term viability of the site. Celebrating the milestone, the folks at igicom were recruited to redesign the site. Headed by Serena Chew, the redesigned site was launched on October 31.

"The book's completely new CD-ROM was made possible by PalmCentral.com's curator, Dr. Raymond Lau of MIT, who spent months on the project, creating screenshots and e-books where none existed, coding the auto-install and "Show Me" features, and otherwise achieving the impossible -- for no money, I might add."
Acknowledgments, PalmPilot: The Ultimate Guide, 2nd edition

In February, 1999, substantially all the assets of PalmCentral.com were transferred to a newly formed entity, HandHeldCentral, LLC. HHC was formed out of a partnership between Q Ventures, a Fort Worth, TX-based investment firm and Raymond Lau. The formation of HHC (d/b/a GoPDA) was formally announced at PDA Expo in April. A redesigned site, supporting e-commerce features such as electronic software delivery and personalization features, was launched on May 18, 1999. PalmCentral.com also supplied much of the content for the CD accompanying the second edition of David Pogue's best selling PalmPilot: The Ultimate Guide. David included a particularly flattering acknowledgment in the book for which Raymond is extremely grateful. In late June, 1999, PalmCentral.com debutted an innovative $50 IPO promotion to increase user sign-ups that was described in a BusinessWeek article in the July 12, 1999 issue. On August 11, 1999, GoPDA announced a content-sharing agreement with Yahoo!. In September, 1999, HHC converted to GoPDA.com, Inc., which later adopted the name Handango.com and then finally Handango, Inc.

In September, 2006, Handango completed a major 60+MM Series B financing round led by IVP, concurrent with which Lau has resigned as a director of the company. (See Press Release and VentureWire story.) Ray remains a close friend of and investor in the company, adding to his position in the recent Series C round (Feb 2008).

Press Involving Ray and PalmCentral

Contact Information for Handango.

URL: http://www.handango.com