Home > business, web 2.0 > Web 2.0 Summit: Launch Pad

Web 2.0 Summit: Launch Pad

November 7, 2006

I’m at the Web 2.0 Summit and watching the Launch Pad demos where new startups get a chance to show off their hot new stuff. Most of last year’s launch pad don’t seem to have changed the world (yet?). Be interesting to see what this year’s crop is up to:

First up, In The Chair is some hot music education software. It lets you put yourself into the rest of an orchestra, see the other instruments playing, and hear how you mesh up. Seems like a great way to practice your music.

Next, Instructables has a new offering for collaboration. People can share their projects, how they built them, and how you can do the same with everyone else on the web. Seems great for hobbyists and hackers alike.

Klostu (“close to”) is doing something neat with message boards. They’re trying to build a super-social network. They’re hoping to connect all of the message boards together into one big network. Very interesting proposition – I’m often tempted to post on boards I lurk on, but the signup process is so laborious, I usually don’t. Searching, keeping track of conversations, etc across multiple boards. Works with Flickr, YouTube, del.icio.us, etc. (I assume SmugMug, but if not, someone should email them. 🙂 ) They claim their reach is 300M people. Could be pretty huge.

Sharpcast isn’t technically a new launch, since they launched at the D Conference in May, but they’re interesting. They make it super-simple to synchonize your photos (and other data) between your PCs, your online experience, and your mobile devices. The interface is clean, fast, and efficient. They claim that it’s taken them years to write the technology, but I seem to recall some applications built on SmugMug’s API that do similar things, so I may be missing something.

Their big announcement here at Web 2.0 is codenamed “Project Hummingbird” which basically does the same thing for non-photo data, like documents. When you edit a document on one of your PCs and save it, it gets auto-sychronized with the web version and other clients you’d like to sync. I’m not totally clear on how this is different from FolderShare, which I use and love, but I’m sure they’ll explain it at some point. Or maybe not – their pitch is over.

Stikkit is web-based note taking. I’m dying for for a good service like this – but alas, I’ve tried dozens of apps and web services that have all let me down. Hopefully this one won’t. It’s web-based, so you can collaborate easily with the people in your life. It’s available anywhere you are, like reminders on your mobile device, access on your laptop, etc. Their organization mechanism makes sense, and works well with “messy data”. It doesn’t try to do AI or anything to get in your way, which is nice. Post-Its are messy and dumb and work fine. This is trying to do the web-version: just getting things done.

Turn is trying to apply “search-like” technology to online advertising. They maintain there’s no manual targetting or keywords at all – it’s fully automatic. You go to Turn and set your goals, say $10 per signup. You then upload your ads. Turn analyzes the ads, your website, and everything else they can using online sources. When ad requests come in from destination sites, they analyze the request and see if it matches your ads, company, product, or brand. If they determine that there’s a good probability of a match, they compare bid price to the probability to decide whether to serve the ad. Sounds incredibly interesting.

Sphere, which I believe I heard about a year ago, is YABSE (Yet Another Blog Search Engine). Their twist is that they now are working with mainstream media to integrate blogs with traditional articles. When you’re reading a MarketWatch article, for example, there’s now a link to read related blog entries. It analyzes the article you’re reading, searches their blog index, and provides results. It also shows related articles throughout the rest of MarketWatch, too. It’s sorta like a localized immediate version of TechMeme or TailRank, and I’ve been wondering when the big newspapers, magazines, and media websites would do something like this. Sphere says it’s one line of JavaScript to drop onto your pages. You can customize the look & feel to make it match your look & feel, too. Very cool – I’m a huge fan of TailRank and TechMeme and would love to have the blog content brought one step closer, right into my favorite articles.

OmniDrive is an online storage aggregator. This is something that’s been on my mind a lot since S3 launched, since I’d love to have most of my storage “in the cloud” where I can get to it from anywhere. A buddy of mine wrote Jungle Disk, which is very cool, using S3. I wouldn’t be surprised if OmniDrive is also using S3, but they haven’t said. The big idea is that your stuff, whether it’s your documents, photos, videos, music, whatever is normally “stuck” on your PC where you can’t get at it if you’re somewhere else. It’s also prone to loss, since your PC could crash or get infected with a virus or something. Using OmniDrive, you can get that data from anywhere. OmniDrive seems like most of the other online storage providers that have been around for awhile, and plenty more are cropping up now. I’m not sure what’s unique about their offering – their pitch sounded very similar to existing services. Nonetheless, it’s something that everyone wants, whether they realize it or not. Personally, I’m afraid things like Time Machine in Leopard are going to obsolete stuff like this, if Apple (and Microsoft) start linking to things like dot Mac, LiveDrive, or S3 for storage.

ADiFY enables small, focus groups to create their own ad networks online. You can build your own newtork, invite and recruit publishers, and sell ads on your new network. The big play here is that you can build networks which are highly specific for a given target demographic, and thus the ads that are run there will be more lucrative because they’re so targeted. Their target networks are passionate enthusiast communities, something we know a lot about here at SmugMug. 🙂 Sounds powerful.

3B is attempting to build a 3D interface to web browsing. This is something of a pet passion of mine, having spent a few years in the video game industry. Unfortunately, their interface isn’t pretty and seems quite slow. Clicking is so efficient, it’s tough to match with an avatar that “walks” through a 3D world made up of your web pages. Maybe if the renderer was a little heavier duty, with nice art and modern shaders, it’d help – but I doubt it. The UI being fast and seamless is so crucial. 3B is the latest in a long line of companies that have tried to do things like this, and I’m afraid they’ll join the junk heap soon enough. Too bad – I’d love to see a serious, good attempt at using 3D graphics to create a richer interface, rather than a lesser one.

oDesk lets you quickly find and hire talented developers (something that’s difficult and of personal interest to us). It’s a global model, so you can hire people from all over the world. All the programmers are tested and screened, and you can see what their test scores are. Posting jobs, interviewing applicants, etc all seems fast and seamless. Maybe I’ll give it a whirl for our open developer position.

Venyo is a univeral reputation tool for bloggers to use. Turns out that people don’t really trust blogs as a realiable source of information. So Venyo is basically doing the eBay seller / buying ratings for bloggers. You can establish a Venyo reputation and other users can verify that you’re a reputable blogger. If Venyo, or something like it, can establish a toehold and a brand, it could easily become a big factor in blog search engines. I’m not clear, though, on exactly how this establishes that your information is good, rather than your information is popular. It’s pretty obvious that the two are often at odds. I suppose we’ll all have to play with it to find out.

I was hoping TimeBridge was going to finally solve the Outlook problem. (As in “I hate Outlook and Exchange Server, but it’s really the only good group meeting organizer. Where are the open-source and/or web-accessible alternatives already?!”). Unfortunately, it’s not. What it is, though, is a method to have TimeBridge handle all of the back-and-forth communication for scheduling meetings using Outlook. Instead of lots of back-and-forth over times, locations, etc, it collects everyones available options and semi-automatically sets up the best possible fit. Sounds great, if you use Outlook, but we don’t. Dang.

These were 5 minute pitches, so who knows how good or fully fleshed they are. But, still, let’s make some bets, shall we? Big potential: Klostu, Stikkit, Sphere, and Turn.

UPDATE: Richard McManus has a brief rundown of his impressions, and we clearly got different impressions of 3B. Might wanna check it out. 🙂

Michael Arrington also has his thoughts up at TechCrunch. He seems to lean more in my direction with 3B, so maybe it’s a taste preference thing. *shrug*

Categories: business, web 2.0
  1. November 7, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    Hi Don, Omnidrive doesnt’ use S3 – we wrote our own distributed file system and storage platform, that is actually what the product started as. Our API is a lot broader than what S3 offers – it’s not just GET and PUT but rather video transcoding, image resizing, user management, authentication proxy, accounting functions (we can collect money for developers), sharing, publishing, live folders. etc.

    I ran out of time in my presentation, but I wanted to show more of what ‘live folders’ is. What it lets you do is to aggregate your files from your web applications. So for eg. you can have folders inside Omnidrive for SmugMug, Zoho Writer, Gmail etc. and it will let you read/write these files from your desktop. So what this means is for these web apps you don’t need to use the uploader (I use SmugMug as an example but I am not sure if you have an API that Omnidrive will work with) they provide, and you can edit files that are already uploaded. So to take Smugmug as an example, I can setup my account here as a live folder, I can then drag+drop all my photos into it to post more photos, I can then go to any photo, open it in photoshop from my desktop, save it and when I view it on smugmug it will be the edited version (it saves and re-uploads automatically in the background).

    As part of live folders, we are working with a number of people on coming up with a standard that web applications can implement to support ‘2-way RSS’ which is where the user can both read/write their files on a web app from anywhere. In short, live folders just makes accessing web-based files a lot easier.

    To find out more, signup for an account or feel free to send me an email.


  2. Greg Wellman
    November 7, 2006 at 6:31 pm

    Quick heads-up: Your Instructables link is going to InTheChair.

  3. April 14, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    Interesting comments.. 😀

  1. November 8, 2006 at 11:04 am
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