Monday, February 11, 2008

Back in the Technology Business...

Thru a series of events, I am back into the technology industry. When I left JBoss nearly two years ago, I had a goal of spending more time with my coaching of high school runners (www.moorestownxc.org) and investigate becoming a high school teacher. Well, my high school daughter thought it would be a good idea for me to wait until she had graduated before I entered that profession. So I decided to extend the running theme in my life by opening up a running store.

Last Spring I was building a web site – www.runningco.com for the store. I had partnered with Dave Welsh from the Haddonfield Running Company to open the Moorestown Running Company. We run old-style running specialty stores on tree-lined Main Streets in quaint towns. We did not want to sell on-line, but create an extension of the running communities in our stores. Having daughters on Facebook, I naturally started thinking about putting some social features onto the site.

Well, it turns out that is easier said than done. You can throw some widgets on your pages to do things like polling, you can install a php forum, and so forth – but it winds up being very disjointed. Of course you can build a Facebook Group – but then they wind up owning all the data and there is no good way to integrate it with the rest of our web site. I tried some of the “white label” community builders and hosting environments like Leverage and Ning. Those are great for “out of the box” communities with a ton of nice features and cool social apps. But the problem was I still could not very neatly tie that into my web site. I got the feeling that if our dinky web site needed social, then many, many web sites needed social applications built into their web sites and integrated with the rest of the emerging social capabilities on the web.

So, I started talking with some of my old friends from Bluestone and JBoss – Rich Friedman, Jason Kinner, Rich Frisbie, and Mark Lugert. They saw similar issues and we started thinking about a way to address this need. I went and talked with David Skok of Matrix Partners who I had worked with at JBoss and have developed a very deep level of respect for. Together we all decided to form a company to address the need for a more open, more integrated approach to social networking. We’re still in “stealth mode” so I can’t talk too much yet about what we are doing. But we hope to have some early stuff out this quarter (Q1 08).

We’ve talked with a number of potential users of this technology as well as analysts and people we’ve met in the industry. They all tell us that what we are building is needed, and that no one else is taking this approach today. It is exciting to work together with a good bunch of folks in this exciting space.

6 comments:

Martin said...

Congratulations Bob. Knowing your track record, I bet that you will be wildly successful (again).

smittie said...

I like the concept of social networking but I don't like most of the implementations to date. I think this is kind of interesting because it might allow the incorporation of social networking tools across a broader spectrum. I would very much like to see social networking become a component of other things rather than the current model where social networking has components of other things.

I'd much rather see a running web site that has a social component than to join a running group on Facebook.

Awesome idea. Very excited that it will be brought into the Open Space venue.

Smittie

Ben Reytblat said...

Hi, Bob,

Have you seen the Community Builder extension (http://www.joomlapolis.com/) for the Joomla CMS(http://joomla.org/)?

It's got a lot of what you might need in a social net site, and is very easy to integrate with a content and ecommerce site. We do that on a regular basis for our customers.

It isn't perfect, and is not as rich as the mainline social nets. But it's a start.

edwink said...

Congratulations. It sounds intriguing!

Ray B said...

Congrats on throwing your hat back into the ring, Bob. Good luck on this venture. Keep us posted.
// Ray

Jesus M. Rodriguez said...

What no SEAM? no JSF? Is it possible that Java developers can see the power of PHP?
Glad to see PHP being used.