GoingOn gets venture backing
We went to the lunch yesterday at the Stanford Summit where Marc Canter and Tony Perkins solicited feedback from a bunch of bloggers and others about GoingOn, their new "network hub" idea we first discussed at length earlier here.
Canter is a dominant personality, and virtually shouted with excitement during the presentation, unveiling plans to implement what he'd been dreaming about for thirteen years. Canter (pictured here) founded Macromind, the company that later became known as Macromedia, and then Broadband Mechanics.
Canter and Perkins, as explained earlier, say they want their network hub to interoperate with anyone else's. They said yesterday they will seek a portion of advertising or licensing revenues that are made by people from their offerings on GoingOn. These people include big corporate players -- companies like Audi or Sun -- who set up a corporate template on the network, or other media companies, or super-bloggers, who also can create their own networks.
We happened to sit next to Daniel Aegerter, of the Armada Investment Group, who we discovered is the sole venture investor in GoingOn (we mentioned in this in our Mercury News story today). Aegerter was the founder of Tradex, and sold that company to Ariba. The other owner of GoingOn is apparently Perkins' AlwaysOn. AlwaysOn will remain the media company. GoingOn will be the software company, Aegerter said (more...)
The reaction at the lunch seemed ok, with most of the discussion focused on how it would work, technically. Canter seemed to have all the answers. The idea is that the open nature of the system will compel people to use it, since they'll be able to import all their desired features however they want, and take those features with them wherever they go.
So the big questions remaining are whether Canter really can pull off the interoperability he is promising, and whether people really will want to use it.
We passed the GoingOn idea by some people afterward, who weren't at the lunch. Konstantin Guericke, co-founder of LinkedIn, a Palo Alto online company that serves professionals seeking to contact others, mainly for job purposes, is a potential competitor to GoingOn. He said most successful sites have focused either on social or professional activities, but not both. "What is their market?" he asked of GoingOn. "Is it people in the 20s, who want to date, or people in their 30s, who want to work?"
People may not want to join more sites, he told us, saying people in the Bay Area seem obsessed with joining the latest social networking site, but not others: "People will look and ask: Do I have a need for this? If I have a need, where do I go?"
Guericke listed social networking sites Ryze and Orkut as examples of sites that tried to serve both social and professional needs broadly. But MySpace and Thefacebook, sites focused on social needs of people under 30, have done much better, he said. LinkedIn has done well with professional networking, he added.
"The real question is, how interoperable is it?" asked Chris Tolles, VP at Topix.net, a news service which already offers most its news to other sites via RSS, and is part-owned by Knight Ridder, parent company of the Mercury News. He questioned whether popular sites like Yahoo and MySpace would cooperate. Even if they do, he asked: "Is it still going to get people to want to use this?"
So there's the challenge. We'll try to update on Canter's progress, particularly after it launches in the fall.
Update: Marc Canter follows, with his critique of our post here. Btw, we hadn't meant the above post as criticism, and apologies if the tone came across that way. We had asked several people in the room for their views, but they took longer than expected to get back to us. So we chose to go outside the room of invited guests, and bounce it off others -- clearly mentioning one as a competitor. Marc, we remain interested in your idea and we'll follow up (Matt is on vacation right now). Thanks for the feedback.