By Nick Patience We’ve noticed recently how web acceleration and navigation tools have been quietly ‘morphing’ into web marketing tools over the past few quarters. But newcomer NetSanity Inc reckons it has a system that not only really lets users decide where they want to go, but also does not intrude on their web lifestyles. […]
By Nick Patience
We’ve noticed recently how web acceleration and navigation tools have been quietly ‘morphing’ into web marketing tools over the past few quarters. But newcomer NetSanity Inc reckons it has a system that not only really lets users decide where they want to go, but also does not intrude on their web lifestyles.
NetSanity will this week launch its virtual digital assistant (VDA), a small application that sits on the desktop and alerts users when stories from content providers they wish to track are updated. NetSanity has patents pending on the technology and plans to publish its XML APIs and enable other companies to create their own VDAs built to NetSanity’s specifications. It also intends to build a publishing tool to make it easier to adapt the VDA.
It works by pulling headlines from its content partners and displaying them in a sitelet, a small application that sits in the VDA and rotates, showing headline after headline, each with the content provider’s brand displayed. Users click on the headline they want to see and it takes them straight to the partners’ web sites and NetSanity gets paid for each clickthrough. It also plans to make money from e-commerce arrangement, whereby it will get paid for referrals that lead to purchases and also from revenue-sharing arrangements. However, it does not intend to carry any advertising, just branding next to the headline.
Information on the toolbar can be updated every ten seconds and the user is alerted to any changes to stories they are tracking and the tool is fully customizable by the user, says Fred Clarke, co-founder and CEO of the company. Clarke says NetSanity’s approach is different to rival Winfire, which recently launched its web acceleration tool, because it does not try to capture users by sending them through its servers and then on the content provider. They go directly to the content with NetSanity’s tool, he says. Winfire also plans to carry ads and another acceleration tool and Web3000 Inc’s NetSonic is currently being remodeled into an advertising network.
If the content the user wants is at a password-protected or a subscription-based site, the tool can prompt the user for the user name and password, encrypt it and send it to the content provider. It can also launch dial-up connections and open browsers when the user is offline.
When the VDA starts shipping at the end of October, NetSanity plans to have about 20 content partners lined up, including CMP, Onsale (users will be able to launch auctions from within the VDA), Chipshot.com and various other content partners that NetSanity cannot name at this stage. NetSanity plans to create a partner network, where each partner’s content will be offered from each other partner, encouraging new customers and increased brand exposure, it says.
NetSanity is creating an intranet version for corporations to use behind firewalls. The company is already working on that and will be testing it starting next quarter, but it won’t be ready until mid-2000.
NetSanity was founded by Clarke and Rob Blechman last fall and is housed at the NASA NASA/Ames technology incubator in San Jose, California. It raised just under $5m from RG Internet Investors LP, an affiliate of Rose Glen Capital Group and Angel Investors LP.