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E-mail mobilizer Visto suddenly goes ahead with a formal announcement of Altitude Capital's (previously secret-ish) $35 million investment in the company. A reader asks:

Why should Visto be shy about taking money from a hedge fund that funds patent lawsuits? Maybe they don't want to be seen as moving from 'litigious startup' to 'patent troll'. Personally I like trolls but not everyone does.

But wait, asks the biz-ignorant English major inside us all (or inside me, specifically), Altitude isn't a hedge fund. What does this mean? Fortunately, the reader is happy to clarify.

You could call it hedge fund or private equity, either way it is investing in patents and lawsuits, not sales growth. A startup probably wants each of its rounds led by a growth investor. A round led by Altitude is not a 'growth' round thus the embarrassment. On the plus side, maybe Altitude money is now earmarked for the lawsuits, leaving the VC money for the operating company. This probably makes the VCs happy as they are uncomfortable spending so much on lawsuits (outside their expertise). In exchange, Altitude will likely receive a % of any lawsuit payoff. The growth investors are happy to lay off this risk/reward to Altitude.

Another reader irritably notes that between $250 and $300 million went into Visto over ten years, and a "mediocre" cellphone email program came out; the reader compares that with NASA putting a robot on Mars for similar money.

But overall, is this move a sign of clever managed development for Visto, or a indicative of its descent into generating money mostly (or only) from litigation? You be the judge.