Mountain View Voice

- May 20, 2011

Local companies come out winners at TiEcon

by Angela Hey

Sococo, Bump and Claritics are three Mountain View companies that help people connect. Sococo has a Web service called Team Space that makes it easy to set up online meetings, Bump helps people share information on their smartphones and Claritics analyzes social network relationships.

At this year's TiEcon in Santa Clara, they each received the TiE50 award. The prize is awarded annually by TiE, which originally stood for The Indus Entrepreneurs and now represents Talent, Ideas & Enterprise, for the 50 most enterprising companies.

Sococo (Social Communications Co.) enables small groups to share information and chat online. Meeting organizers invite people to a meeting by email. Team Space can search address books of instant messaging services: AOL's AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk and Windows Live Messenger. It will soon search Skype's address book and Sococo already uses Skype's technology (codec) to connect conversations.

Team Space displays computer screens, websites, Web applications and conversations in a virtual office or conference room. Sococo lets you leave information in a meeting room for others to see later. Connecting to an online meeting with Team Space resembles going into a meeting room, so joining a meeting is more intuitive than with WebEx or GoToMeeting. Sococo can display videos like those on YouTube, but it doesn't have built-in support for a participant's webcam output yet. You can get around this deficiency by using another application to display webcam output on your screen and then sharing the screen.

For $24.99 a month — half the entry price of WebEx, which allows up to 25 participants, or GoToMeeting, which allows up to 15 participants — you get two to four private offices, a conference room for four and a courtyard for people to chat in. For 32 private offices, three conference rooms, four courtyards and a lobby it costs $119.99 a month. The private offices allow two participant's computer screens to be shared and the conference rooms allow four screens. Sococo plans to add doors to offices so they are more private. The company keeps a list of planned and wished for features on its website, sococo.com. Sococo is looking for developers who can build new collaborative applications on its software platform. Sococo has well-connected angel investors, including the chief operating officer at Square and a senior vice president at Zynga.

I wrote about Bump Technologies last August when they had a smartphone application that shared pictures and business cards by bumping phones together. They too have evolved into a software platform that invites developers to create applications. A PayPal application that lets people share money and a John Smith's British Pub application that lets people share a game of darts. Bump also lets you share calendars and social networking information. Bump has attracted some of the valley's top venture investors, including Sequoia Capital, Marc Andreesen and mega-angel Ron Conway.

Claritics analyzes social network activity. If you build a website and put a Facebook "Like" button on it, then you can track how many people have clicked. Similarly, if you Tweet, you want to know how quickly your message has been sent on to others. Claritics provides software that you can embed in Web applications to analyze other actions. For example, if you have developed a game that asks people to invite their friends to play you can see statistics like the average number of invites a player sends out. Many other statistics that measure user reach, user retention and user revenue can be obtained by embedding Claritics' software in web applications. Claritics has just announced Series A funding from Cerin Ventures and the Silicon Valley-based TiE Angels.

All these companies are leveraging their technology by getting others to use their software in other applications. That's one reason they are hot. Congratulations!

Angela Hey advises technology companies on marketing and business development. She can be reached at amhey@techviser.com.

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