Archive for November, 2006

The Parakey Can Speak

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

After much hype and anticipation, Blake Ross finally speaks out about his new stealth start-up. For months, he’s kept quiet, not willing to reveal any details whatsoever.

Now let’s take a step back and explain. Blake Ross was one of the co-founders and masterminds behind Firefox. He began the project at age 16. While most kids were out playing sports or watching movies, he was changing the world with a revolutionary new web browser. Later on, he helped launch the ‘Spread Firefox’ initiative.

Now 21, Ross is speaking out about his new venture - Parakey. Up until now, he hasn’t said a word, other than the fact that it wasn’t going to be a web browser. Ross and a partner, Joe Hewitt, raised seed capital from Sequoia Capital in February 2005.

So what is Parakey? GigaOM explains:

“Ross describes Parakey as a WebOS that does what a traditional OS can do. It allows you to set up a site that can be shared by say all member of the family, and can be accessed from within a web browser. In order to make it work, you need to download a small application that turns your local machine into a server. You can decide which part of the Parakey site is viewable to the outside world.”

Blake goes on to explain that the project will be open-source, contrary to many reports. In addition, a new language, JUL, is being used to develop the system.

I am very interested in seeing the progression of this venture. Blake Ross is a very ambitious guy. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with him at Gnomedex. I have huge expectations for this project, but I have no doubts in my mind he will exceed even those.

As the details are vague at this point and there is nothing to see, I am going to refrain from making any concrete conclusions or stating any opinions. However, I wouldn’t doubt if this project revolutionizes the web and changes the way we do things online.

I will be updating this story as more information and details become available.

NOTE: For further information, check out this Parakey article by Richard MacManus at Read/Write Web.

MappingTheWeb Adds New Feature

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

Today, MappingTheWeb added a new feature which should help spread the word about the blog. At first, it may not seem apparent, but upon further scrutiny you will notice that at the end of each post there are three little icons. To some, these are industry standard. To blog newbies, you may need a bit more of an explanation.

The first icon (let’s call it four squares in a box) allows you to add an online social bookmark at The second icon (man with shovel) allows you to Digg a post quickly and easily. Finally, the third box (cute alien being) allows you to vote ‘up’ the post on Reddit, which was recently bought by Conde-Nast and is similar to Digg.

Hopefully readers and users will click on these icons on a regular basis to help spread the word about the blog :). At least, that is my hope.

Many bloggers uses this strategy and some quite successfully. It is a very simple way to market a blog with little effort. In the blogosphere, other popular marketing tools include RSS and blog search engines. If you can find a way to diversify your traffic stream, you don’t have to rely on one stream or another.

Anyways, I just really want more people to learn about and read MappingTheWeb. I put a lot of time and effort into the blog, but I love it. So next time you read a post you like, be sure to Digg it!

Bundle Shopping

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Shopping for a single item or a bunch of different items and want the lowest possible price? You’ll be happy to hear Ugenie launched. Founded by two former Amazon execs, this site goes a step beyond the traditional comparison shopping experience online.

You enter an item or combination of items you are looking to purchase. The system then browses through 35 online marketplaces to establish the lowest possible price for that specific item or grouping of items - including shipping and taxes. Quite impressive. And get this: the system also outlines how to buy a grouping of items individually from different merchants if you aren’t worried about simplicity and focused solely on price. The Ugenie system can handle up to 15 items and functions in real-time. The UI is extremely well-laid out and intuitive.

The company recently raised $5 million from Blue Run Ventures and Sierra Ventures.

I’ve always been a big fan of comparison shopping sites as I see an incredibly compelling value proposition for users and a viable business model for the company. Having said that, I still think each comparison site can take on its own niche area. In this case, Ugenie is focusing on ‘bundling’ - a smart move in my mind. I expect the site to do very well and garner significant market share.