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May 12, 2006

Reality Check: Vyew

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If most venture capitalists weren’t liars, we’d tell you that if we had the opportunity to fund Google, we would have passed. Seriously, who would have thought the world needed another search engine in 1995?

Fast forward to 2006. Does the world need another web conferencing product? Maybe. Check out Vyew.

Vyew is a free browser-based conferencing and “always-on” collaboration platform that provides instant visual communication without the need for client downloads or installations.

Vyew’s multimedia workspace enables real-time shared viewing of presentations, files, photos, and one’s desktop. Included are tools for whiteboarding, annotating, text chatting, and phone conferencing.  

With Vyew’s “always-on” configuration, users can leave, permit others to enter and make revisions, and return–knowing that all content and annotations will remain intact.  
 
Vyew has a growing set of plug-ins, such as Yahoo maps, Google search, diagram tools, notepad, games, and photo slideshows.
 
Key Features:
- Free
- Instant meeting: No client to download
- “Always-on” collaborative sessions
- Share and whiteboard PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and JPG, etc. files.
- Desktop sharing with one-click screen capture
- Remote storage
- Download photos from Yahoo!, Kodak, and Flickr to create multimedia slideshows

Please vote about Vyew.

Please rank this posting.

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Comments

[...]oo cool thanks [..]

[...]This crazy modern world gives us lots of ways to get together, without boarding an airplane… from
fancy video conferencing, to free conference calling and Skype, it’s all good.
Sony Video Conferencing Sytem
[…]

That's really a smart and quick solution for video conferencing, without much efforts and time.
http://www.sony-conferencing.com/

Another new entrant in this space is Dimdim (http://dimdim.com) which also does not need the attendees to download any plugins/software. The best thing about Dimdim, in addition to being open source is the usability factor. Very intutitive/easy to use.

Startups.in/India
(Nag .B)

Just want to dropp off an info that Vyew 2.0 is going to be released in mid-July not in June like we mentioned before.

Our up coming release 2.0 has some unique and very useful new features. For example, it can support multiple VyewBooks. These VyewBooks which can be divided by customers, projects, interest, and more can be saved and open. Additionally, you can now mix and match pages from various file types or layered them together inside the same VyewPage which makes Vyew even more powerful in a collaborative environment.

We can provide you a sneak preview of this new version should you be interested. Please email me at reza@vyew.com and I will be glad to send you the URL.

Sincerely,

Reza Gosal

I think Adobe has this nailed. Breeze has been in production for over a year now. The question is whether it is making money and whether the low end can aggregate enough users to justify someone buying these guys.

http://www.adobe.com/products/breeze/

Cool and free are not necessarily syonymous with marketable and defensible. This seems like a nice interface but with functionality that could be easily and quickly surpassed by the resources in and around Adobe/Macromedia.

We wanted to thank all of you for providing us with some really useful feedback. I would like to take a moment to reply to a few of the comments.

One individual wrote about how “desktop sharing isn’t rocket science enough to justify VC funding” and that “neither is bundling a whole bunch of common features”. We would agree with that. However, what we are betting on is that if we can provide a free, easy-to-use and accessible (i.e., clientless and firewall-friendly) tool that includes a really cool set of unique features (coming up in Vyew 2.0), while being profitable - then maybe we could justify VC funding.

Additionally, I would like to respond to Manoj’s comments regarding Vyew and GoToMeeting. It is really not an apples to apples discussion. As I read your blog, I noticed that Elwin, who posted on here and your blog, had two very good points with respect to how Vyew and GoToMeeting compared:

“GotoMeeting is a screen streaming tool, that allows for collaboration by allowing others to ‘share’ the keyboard and mouse. It is really a one-to-many sharing tool.” He adds that he uses “Vyew between our Architects as a collaboration tool. Vyew is more of a many to many sharing tool. We bring up Vyew, load an engineering diagram (as a jpg) or UML diagram, and each of us can whiteboard on top of it with our tablets real time. It works better than GotoMeeting because everyone can mark up the doc at the same time. Vyew sends the drawing object on mouse up, instead of streaming them, so your whiteboard strokes are captured better.”

I hope that I have helped shed some light into this confusion.

Two final points:

1) We have updated our comparison chart, which now includes Adobe/MM Breeze, as well as, a few other players.

2) For the individual who could not get Vyew to load properly in his browser, it could be because it was not Flash 8 enabled. We admit that we are a little ahead of the curve by using Flash 8, but we anticipate that it will reach full adoption before the end of the year.

Thanks for your support.

We want to thank Guy for providing a forum that allows his readers to post comments regarding Vyew. The feedback is very valuable to us and we take them seriously. The only way that we are going to continue to deliver a great product is to listen to what you have to say and act accordingly. In fact, Shel Israel cited Vyew as a good example of listening and reacting to customers needs through blogs (http://www.socialcustomer.com/2006/05/meshforum_2006_.html).

At first glance, Vyew could be lumped into the vast field of web conferencing programs that are available today. But we believe that our premise and vision of web collaboration/ conferencing is significantly different than the rest. Rather than developing another me-too product solely for business use, we are also offering a tool that satisfies an untapped demand for the rest of us. We are not just going after the “web conferencing” market, but instead, are building a visually collaborative, social computing platform. With this in mind, we constructed Vyew to be a easy-to-use clientless collaboration product that is both hardware and bandwidth efficient, allowing Vyew to be highly accessible and profitable even from an ad-supported revenue model. Today, Vyew is the only freely available, feature-rich tool in this category.

Additionally, with the release of Vyew 2.0 in June, a set of unique features will become available; bringing us closer toward fulfilling our vision and ambition of making Vyew the most broadly adopted visual communication and collaboration platform. For instance, in Vyew 2.0, users will have the ability to create multiple “Always-On” sessions (VyewBooks). These VyewBooks can be used to maintain concurrent active group projects, as well as allow the creation of dynamic “scrapbooks” with a social network. This multi-user created content will, then, be publishable through a Vyew window – even on other websites or blogs. These ‘Vyewlets’ will be fully interactive; enabling users to annotate and draw in them, while the original content gets updated in real-time. Furthermore, Vyew converts all uploaded files (ppt, doc, jpeg, etc.) into independent VyewClips allowing content owners to create VyewBooks composed of select pages from various documents or presentations as well as photos, drawings, sounds and other ‘clips’ of information. There is a lot more, but I won’t spill all the beans! We will have an ‘alpha’ version that we can show to select vyewers in early June. For everyone else, you will just have to check back in late June or July to see what else we have cooking in Vyew 2.0.

Interesting piece and I'm curious how you found them. I signed up for Vyew in December and have used it for cross team and client discussions and reporting/obtaining feedback. Prior, was paying $$$ using raindance. They've put a lot of effort and, to be honest, the price is right. In all honestly, I stumbled onto them after participating in a very cool online training program through their main business, http:www.simulat.com

For the most part I disagree with the comments above that think it needs more features (e.g. voice, video, animation, etc.). By just looking at a few of the people that loved it, it's easy to see where they should focus: small startups scrapped for cash and personal users.

I was actually looking for a solution like this the other day when trying to describe some concepts to my mom the other day, and a few days back, this would have been nice as I was on the phone with my graphic-design brother who was having layout issues with a website. In both cases, it would have been great to say, "Go to www.vyew.com and enter 55555 in the join existing meeting box."

Overall, I like it, and think they should avoid directly competing with the existing "full featured" web-conferencing offerings.

Hi Guy. I was looking for this solution for a long time. There is a lot of competition, but usually it is very expensive or annoying products. I like it. Don't know about the business model though.

It is hard to give opinion about this company or product without deeper analysis. Just few thoughts on topic:
1. This kind of communication will be done peer-to-peer in long term. The comment box is too small to write more about this.
2. This kind of software will be free. Just like browsers, IM clients, etc. The key question is how they are going to make money.
3. MS Netmeeting has screen/app sharing features for years. But Skype will make screen sharing popular.
4. Its a myth that no-install, browser based app is better than traditional desktop app. It is the question doesn't it make sense to create desktop app. If app is very close to OS and user then desktop app is better. If app is close to huge Google/eBay/Amazon DB and has easy UI then web UI is better. If desktop app provides enough value to users, then they will download and install it or even brake law and install pirate version ;-)

With very few exceptions, businesses have largely passed on hosted collaboration and workspace tools. Most enterprise knowledge workers can't get approval to outsource to an ASP. Peer-to-peer architecture can address this, but most web-savvy architects think in terms of servers & services, not users & participating nodes.

See my blog for more about the nascent p2p webs space...

I like it. simple, powerful, free (appropriate price - gotomeeting is too expensive for its value for an occasional user like me). I hope they find a revenue source.

"During this beta period, we have not settled on a business model..."

Hmmm, more cool "web 2.0" software developers without a clue what they are creating and who they are creating it for. (sigh)

Interesting idea, but conferencing without voice is...well...chatting. Not sure how the voice "partner" thing is going to work out for business users

They are up against such strong competition, they might be fighting an up-hill battle to acquire any noticeable percentage of the market.
-----------------
bloglogs.net: http://www.bloglogs.net
blogtricks.net: http://www.blogtricks.net
-----------------

Please visit http://manojranaweera.blogspot.com/2006/05/vyew-threat-to-gotomeeting-and-webex.html

for my comments on view. Big thumbs down - could be interesting once they match or beat features of gotomeeting.com

*************************

Manoj,

I don't know a thing about gotomeeting.com, but the ability to not show animation can be considered a feature, not a bug based on some of the PPT presentations I've seen! :-)

Guy

Yes Siree! An easy-to-use, CHEAP conferencing tool with "good enough" features would be a great thing. Perfect for small biz owners/individuals who want to have their own 1-to-1 conference/meetings with other small business owners around the world.

I like the concept; I hate the name. If a name has any relevance to the success of a service, I give it a thumbs down.

The collaborative whiteboard is a great idea. I don't think I would invest in this company though because it's a concept that is very likely to be implemented in other web conferencing apps that have a much larger userbase and marketing reach.

Desktop sharing isn't rocket science enough to justify VC funding. Trust me, I've done that, took me 3 months from idea to shipping product part time. Server involved desktop sharing sucks because the data has to go twice as far AND you have to pay for the bandwidth both ways.

Neither is bundling a whole bunch of common features. What is missing from your description is the size of their user base and how they expect to make money. To be honest, I don't see this technology translating into an easy revenue model. They need to have established, working, profitable sales channels.

Very cool. Big thumbs up! A video and voip feature would make it even better(possibly for premium users?) Also what about a remote pc feature, there's been a gap in that for like the past decade. Most applications require installations in two computers, so a web type application would be very cool.

I heard about this company quite a while ago. Their web site is going very slow - they should probably work on that.

Otherwise, it seems like a fairly cool product.

Guy, are these companies that you post about potential investments or just companies of interest?

I couldn't make it work at my first try with either Safari and Firefox. Web is not expected to work this way. So Vyew doesn't exist, from my irrelevant standpoint, until it is really usable as I expect from a browser-based service. :)

Amen. I am excited about this service. Why? Well, we are a startup and can't afford the grossly overpriced services that are currently out there right now, usually costing $50/meeting or some outrageous montly fees in the hundreds of dollars. I hope they offer a free or paid plan to support small businesses that need to host 1-2 meetings a month.

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