[NYT] Groove: Notester

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From: Rohit Khare (Rohit@KnowNow.com)
Date: Tue Oct 24 2000 - 11:12:02 PDT

[Wow, it seems like years since a Markoff piece debuted a
fundamentally new technology, which is by no means a slam on Markoff.
It's refreshing to get past the .com boom and get to work on real
software innovations again.

It's inevitable that Ray's getting tagged with Notester, but I can
guarantee you that whatever you think of raising $50M to develop a
product pre-launch, he's certainly baked in profressional
infrastructure rather than 19-year-olds' claptrap protocols.

We're certainly looking forward to the developer community's
reactions. While KnowNow has taken a different tack, focusing 100% on
current standards and bringing 'p2pness' to existing web tools,
there's vastly more headroom in one's own ActiveX-like binary

I wonder how many other FoRKers-cum-entrepreneurs will be blown away
by its look & feel... but that's once the flash crowds dissipate, of
course. The response has indeed been overwhelming enough to melt the
server banks. Perhaps they should chat with a little company across
the street from MIT LCS... :-)

Congrats to the team! -- Rohit

PS. The digital photographs example at the end is killer -- finally,
a good use for edge-storage of bulk data to get off your hands at the
datacenter. Kinda like the inverse of myMP3... ]

October 24, 2000
New Tool From Lotus Notes Creator

Ray Ozzie, designer of Lotus Notes at Groove's research room in
Beverly, Mass., is introducing a new Internet communications tool
after three years of development.

Today, three years after leaving I.B.M., the designer of the Lotus
Notes program will introduce his latest effort: a software tool
intended to provide a wide range of new ways for workers to
collaborate over the Internet. It is, in essence, a sort of Napster
for the workplace.

The developer, Ray Ozzie, became something of a legend in software
circles as an early employee of Software Arts, publisher of the
pioneering electronic spreadsheet VisiCalc, and for his later work at
Lotus Development, where he oversaw the creation of the Notes
program, which has 60 million users and was a key reason for I.B.M.'s
acquisition of Lotus. His current venture, Groove Networks, was
created in 1997 with the backing of Mitchell D. Kapor, the founder of
Lotus and now an independent investor.

Mr. Ozzie, 44, is credited with pioneering the groupware category of
software, including Notes, that permits teams of workers to share
data and communicate. With his latest work, he said in a recent
interview, he was starting a new generation of software with the
potential to transform the use of personal computers as workplace

He said he believed that his software would help expand the popular
conception of the Internet beyond e-mail and the World Wide Web. "My
goal is to bring something new to the table that will change people's
view of how the Internet might be used," he said. "I wanted to build
a better platform for direct person-to-person communication."

That task has been significantly simplified this year by the
explosive popularity of programs like Napster, which permit
individual computer users to share music stored on other users'

"Ray Ozzie is Napsterizing Notes," said Michael Schrage, a groupware
expert who is co-director of the Emarkets initiative at the Media
Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Mr. Ozzie's software, simply called Groove, employs the same
peer-to-peer approach to permit small groups of workers to share
computer data, have voice conversations and create a shared "virtual
space" without need of a large corporate network infrastructure.

In addition, Groove promises to increase the ease with which any two
people can have private and secure conversations over the Internet.

One of the first consumer-oriented software programs to take full
advantage of the Clinton administration's decision to drop national
security restrictions on encryption technology, Mr. Ozzie's program
will permit any group of users to create a secure and private channel
beyond the reach of government monitoring like the F.B.I.'s Carnivore

In turning the product into a business, Mr. Ozzie will borrow from
the business model of Real Networks, which gives away a simple
version of its streaming-media software and sells a commercial
version. Groove also foresees revenue from add-on software
components, developer licenses, and a centralized server business
that will help manage the flow of information.

Mr. Ozzie's vision has managed to attract $60 million in capital for
his company, which is based in Beverly, Mass., and has 150 employees.
But it also has a formidable potential competitor: the Microsoft
Corporation, which already includes a component known as NetMeeting
with its Windows operating systems.

But Microsoft has done little to push the idea of peer-to-peer
computing as a basic computer platform strategy to date. Several
analysts suggested that one possibility would be for the giant
software publisher to respond to Groove in a manner similar to its
response to Netscape Communications.

In 1995, fearing that it would be overtaken by Netscape, Microsoft
responding by building its Internet Explorer directly into the
Windows operating system.

"I think Microsoft is a potential competitor or partner depending on
how it shakes out," said Dana Gardner, research director for the
messaging and directory services program of the Aberdeen Group, a
computer industry consulting firm. "If Groove is as groovy as they
say they are and does things Microsoft can't in the right time frame,
they will be able to maintain an advantage."

Currently, Groove's advantage is that it provides a set of
application programming interfaces intended to encourage developers
to build programs based on Groove's software and network
infrastructure, thereby supplanting the role of the operating system.

That model is what attracted Jim Breyer, managing partner at Accel
Partners, the venture firm in Palo Alto, Calif., that is Groove's
major investor. "We went into the deal realizing that it would take
several years for Groove to get deep traction" among corporate users,
he said.

But he also said he believed that the company would quickly find a
market with companies like Wal- Mart, which is developing a Groove
application to permit its customers to share digital photographs.

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