IT firm heads to cloud: Terenine becomes Cloudswell as payday conglomerate changes stripes

IT firm heads to cloud: Terenine becomes Cloudswell as payday conglomerate changes stripes

February 5th, 2013 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Terenine has a state-of-the-art data center on Riverside Drive that exists to keep payday money flowing.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

Carey V . Brown owns several internet payday lending sites.

Big changes are under way at the conglomerate controlled by philanthropist and payday lender Carey V. Brown.

As part of the business group's continuing metamorphosis, Terenine has changed its name to Cloudswell, while Area203 Digital has relocated to Riverfront Parkway, near Alstom.

A new business entity, Envision Management Group, will serve as the sales team for most of Brown's Chattanooga businesses, which now include Area203, ACHFederal, Cloudswell, SupportSeven and Sovee, according to employees.

No changes appear to be ongoing at payday lending entities Credit Payment Services and Credit Protection Depot, call center SupportSeven or payday websites DiscountAdvances.com, PayDayMax.com and MyCashNow.com.

Brown's group of Chattanooga-based IT and marketing companies, which got their start servicing his Internet payday loans, have regularly launched rebranding initiatives ever since they were officially spun off from his payday business. Former employees have noted that despite outward appearances, the companies' core payday lending focus typically remains the same.

This time, Cloudswell spokeswoman Casey Knox says the changes are more than just a rebranding. Cloudswell will be an entirely new company when it abandons millions of dollars of Terenine's physical server infrastructure and becomes a broker of cloud services through external partners.

The new company will offer cloud-based application development, brokered cloud services, compliance and security and support services, according to a news release.

Knox didn't detail what would happen to the Terevault, the company's earthquake-proof server bunker, but some employees have said that parts of massive server structure would be sold.

David Carney, who will continue on as the president of Cloudswell, called cloud computing a "revolutionary development," which allows for more security and affordability than the location-based servers Terenine formerly employed.

"This change will greatly expand our offerings and allow us to bring our customers to the forefront of this technological innovation," Carney said.

Cloudswell said in a statement it will keep the executives and employees of Terenine.

Brown's companies have used terms like "partners," "customers," "clients" and "affiliates" in the past to describe different parts of his business empire. But many of his companies also have made efforts to reach external clients and diversify from the payday business.

The enigmatic entrepreneur has dispersed some of the conglomerate's moving parts following the publication of a series of articles in the Chattanooga Times Free Press detailing the relationships between those businesses, which then primarily were based around payday lending.

Many Brown-controlled businesses previously operated out of three buildings in Chattanooga, including a 40,112-square-foot office on Riverside Drive.

Metamorphosis

What is now Cloudswell began life as the IT department in Brown's payday loan servicing operation, before launching as Basenine in 2007. Basenine then became Terenine in early 2010, before transforming into Cloudswell, according to the Tennessee Secretary of State.

Area203 has also changed names a number of times in its short history.

That company, which now bills itself as a digital advertising agency, started off as the division of Brown's enterprise responsible for marketing payday loans to customers.

It split off as Logic Marketing in 2008, and rebranded itself as Area 203 in late 2009. The agency assumed control of Leadpile in late 2010, which allowed it to better target consumers for payday loans. The new, larger agency became Area203 Digital in 2011, and the company now uses all capital letters to spell its name.

Brown's empire also includes a trio of entities dedicated to translating languages and streaming video. Kingdom Site launched as nonprofit to help missionaries use the Web to translate their Bibles and lessons, while Firma 8 was the commercial venture to make money off that translation software. Brown has since began to introduce Sovee, which also offers translation software as well as video streaming.

Brown associate Steve Steele, who has long headed up these ventures, is now at the helm of the Covenant Values Foundation, through which Brown has pledged to give away $1 billion to charity.

API Professional Services began life as Brown's human resources and accounting department, before launching on its own as AccountPros. That company became API Recruiting, and now calls itself API Professional Services LLC. The company, which is run by long-time Brown associate Sherry Huff, seeks to find IT professionals and marketing executives for Brown's various enterprises, according to its website.

Brown's three original payday websites, DiscountAdvances.com, PayDayMax.com and MyCashNow.com, appear to have ceased making payday loans in Tennessee, but have otherwise changed little since the Times Free Press' 2011 investigation.