This session at the Web 2.0 Summit was a visit with four entrepreneurs who launched in the last year and had involvement in the last Web 2.0 Summit.
Zimbra – Satish Dharmaraj
Launched the Zimbra Collobration Suite last year, and they started selling the suite in March. They just passed 4 million accounts.
Today they are launching the Zimbra offline AJAX client. It works just like Zimbra online, and basically sent messages just stay in the Outbox. When you get back online, you just hit the synchronization button and it syncs up and sells your email.
They are also starting to sell a white label solution. Satish gave a funny demo where they skinned and made Zimbra into an exact replica of the Gmail interface.
Zimbra raised $15 million and hasn’t really touched it. They are trying to disruptive stuff and thought it’d be necessary, but they’re doing pretty well.
Zimbra knew a bunch of developers, so it hasn’t been a big challenge.
Their biggest mistake was asking for an all or nothing on their product suite.
Veoh Networks – Dmitry Shapiro
It’s a peer to peer network, but uses the Netflix queue idea combined with an Internet Tivo. They’ve started dealing with long form high resolution video, and think it changes the way TV work.
They got a Series B round of $12 million, and are doing over 3 million unique visitors. Initially they raised $2 million in a Series A, and they haven’t used much of the Series B yet. They feel they need a warchest because this is a big opportunity and aren’t planning on a quick exit. Their business is very capital expensive.
Finding good developers has been a challenge for them.
One problem they’ve seen is knowing where to stop with features and opportunities. They get presented with many opportunities to extend their video platform and white label things, and they need to keep in control.
Wink – Michael Tanne
A social search engine that launched late last year. They feel that the web is getting more social (no kidding!), and they take user input and help turn those into relevant search results. They put an early beta out earlier in the year, and a month ago they did a major upgrade to the product to take into account all the feedback they got. They also added “collections”, which allows people to put links together that belong in the same community. He gave a nice demo of a Ramones collection.
You can also do an Advanced People Search across social networks, which is pretty cool, and also probably makes for a great stalker tool. You can search social networks for specific interests, filter by gender, filter by age, and filter by dating status.
He thinks people should start with an angel investment for a consumer web application, and see where it goes from there. They took $6 million and have only used $1 million of that.
He thought their biggest mistake was probably releasing their product too early before it was ready.
Weblogs Inc./Netscape – Jason Calacanis
It’s been a big year, they sold Weblogs Inc. to AOL, and have now integrated that into AOL. He’s still running Weblogs Inc, but when he got to AOL they were wanting to do something different with Netscape.com since it had been stangnant for a few years. Jason liked what was going on with Digg, del.icio.us, and other sites like that and rolled with the Digg model with an added editorial layer and did meta-journalism.
He thinks they had a rocky start, but things are going well now. He thinks they are less susceptible to gaming, and have vastly different demographics. Digg is 94% male, and Netscape is split pretty evenly between male and female, and they have a more balanced audience. So while tech stories dominate Digg, Netscape sees a mix of general news, politics, and family stories.
To start Weblogs Inc. Jason and Brian Alvey put in their own money, and Mark Cuban then invested low six figures which they didn’t touch.
Finding developers has not been a challenge for them because Jason feels that you just need to have something they believe in, and to find them working at jobs. He said good developers have jobs, so you just need to recruit them away.
He’s felt his biggest mistake is probably six or seven blog posts he’d like to take back. He was used to a transparency and fast acting style, and many in AOL were uncomfortable with that. But they’ve found a good balance and he and other new companies in AOL like Userplane our working with the old guard to push AOL forward.
He also mentioned one problem was parallel entrepreneurs who take on too many projects or get too wide on their main project. Mark Cuban always told him “remember what got us here”, which was a reminder to focus on their profitable blogs and don’t move out into all the other opportunties that were popping up.