Slam-dunk: email, under 4 seconds, penny/packet

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From: Rohit Khare (
Date: Fri Jun 02 2000 - 00:26:30 PDT

Slam Dunk Guarantees Message Delivery
By Mel Duvall, Inter@ctive Week
May 29, 2000 6:20 AM ET

A veteran of the microprocessor wars is once again daring to venture
where others fear to tread.
Robert Miller, who earned his battle scars in the early 1990s with
MIPS Computers, trying to sell a new form of microprocessor against
mighty Intel, intends to make the Internet safe for e-commerce.

Miller's latest venture, called Slam Dunk Networks, is promising a
message delivery platform that will in effect guarantee
business-to-business (B2B) commerce transactions. A number of other
vendors offer secure e-commerce platforms, but this appears to be the
first time a company is willing to go so far as to guarantee delivery
over the public Internet.

"We've created one of the missing pieces that needs to be in place
for the Internet to realize the promise of B2B," Miller said. "We
believe this has the potential to increase the volume of B2B
transactions being done on the Internet by orders of magnitude."

As lofty as those predictions are, Miller has managed to win the
support of an influential group of investors and technology leaders.
His company closed a $50 million round of funding earlier this month
with an investor group that included Adobe Systems, American Express,
Cisco Systems, Oracle, SAP Ventures and Tibco Software.

Miller refers to his system as a form of Federal Express for the
Internet. It uses a series of checks and balances to ensure delivery
of a transaction message.

The system begins with the Slam Dunk Connector, essentially an
interface to an e-commerce application. Once a transaction message is
created by the application, it is sent through the connector and
replicated. The two transaction messages are then sent on different
paths across the Internet, in a race to their final destination.
Along the way, they pass through a series of "hoops" placed at 20
different locations around the world on the Internet's backbone. Each
time the message passes through a hoop, a confirmation message is
sent back to Slam Dunk Central. In addition, a copy of the message is
stored in a separate archive at each hoop.

"The message that is received first confirms the transaction, and the
second message is destroyed," Miller said. "If both messages are
lost, we can still recover from the archive."

Slam Dunk plans to begin a pilot of its system in mid-June and go
into full production by the fall. It will charge companies .5 cents
per kilobyte of information transferred over its network. A typical
transaction message contains 2 kilobytes to 4 KB, Miller said.

Slam Dunk will face some competition. First Data, a major player in
the business of processing credit card transactions, plans to compete
for a piece of the B2B market.

It announced last week that it will form a company with digital
certificate specialist Entrust Technologies called PaymentWave to
build a payment platform for electronic exchanges. John Duncan,
executive vice president of Internet commerce at First Data, said the
company is not saying it will guarantee transactions made with its
platform, but that is the ultimate goal. "That's where the world
wants us to go - but we're not there yet," he said.

WSJ: Monday May 15, 2000
(the following has been excerpted)
Starting Gate
By Don Clark
Grand Slam

Robert C. Miller was a prominent player in some of Silicon Valley's
bloodiest technology battles. Now he's back with his third company,
and lofty ambitions to adapt the Internet for heavy-duty business

The new venture, Slam Dunk Networks Inc., is betting that Web
performance will be unacceptable when new business exchanges start
zapping purchase orders and payments around. The Redwood City,
Calif., company plans to address this problem by setting up server
computers in 20 locations around the world and reformulating the data
for private, efficient transport. It sends at least two copies of
each message, choosing different routes to each destination. The
redundant systems, Mr. Miller says, will allow a bold promise:
guaranteed delivery of any message anywhere in the world in four

Slam Dunk has raised $50 million from an unusual group of blue-chip
investors (click for full list of investors), including Cisco Systems
Inc., American Express Co., Oracle Corp., SAG AG, Adobe Systems Inc.,
and Tibco Software Inc. Mr. Miller hints that some of those companies
also may wind up as customers.

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