Under the Hood
A growing number of companies are busily creating new Web-based platforms on which other software -- or businesses -- can be built.
By Erick Schonfeld, Om Malik and Michael V. Copeland

(Business 2.0) - A related area of frenzied action is among the growing number of companies either offering themselves as Web-based platforms on which other software and businesses can be built or developing basic tools that make some of the defining hallmarks of the Next Net possible. For instance, Salesforce.com (Research), a relative veteran that pioneered the delivery of software over the Internet, recently launched a platform called AppExchange; any programmer can write an application to run on AppExchange, and Salesforce.com will host and deliver it to customers. Meanwhile, startup Brightcove is building a video publishing and distribution platform for Internet TV. It will allow companies such as AOL and Viacom (Research)--as well as smaller publishers--to deliver video over the Web, as either downloads or streams with ads attached.

Then there are the toolmakers. By developing blog-authoring software called Moveable Type and TypePad, Six Apart has been a catalyst for the whole Next Net phenomenon. Its software has helped everyone from Pittsburgh's Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, to humorist Dave Barry create blogs. Startup SimpleFeed enables companies such as EMC (Research) and Intuit (Research) to use RSS feeds as an opt-in marketing tool. The feeds can be customized to each recipient and tracked individually for both internal messaging and external marketing campaigns.


Company: Brightcove (Cambridge, MA)

What It Is: Internet TV distributor

Next Net Bona Fides: It's creating a video-distribution platform over the Web for producers large and small.


Company: Jigsaw (San Mateo, CA)

What It Is: Business contact database

Next Net Bona Fides: In exchange for their own contact lists, salespeople use this site to access a virtual Rolodex of managers at nearly 150,000 companies.


Company: SimpleFeed (Palo Alto)

What It Is: Opt-in RSS marketing

Next Net Bona Fides: By allowing RSS feeds to be customized to the desires of each recipient and tracked individually, the site makes such feeds a powerful marketing tool.


Company: Salesforce.com (San Francisco)

What It Is: Platform for online enterprise software

Next Net Bona Fides: It pioneered Web-based software and is trying to become a marketplace and host for other online apps through its AppExchange.


Company: Six Apart (San Francisco)

What It Is: Blogging tools

Next Net Bona Fides: The company helped kick off and sustain the Next Net with its Moveable Type blogging software and TypePad blogging service.



Amazon. It's becoming a major Web platform by opening up its software protocols and encouraging anyone to use its catalog and other data; its Alexa Web crawler, which indexes the Net, can be used as the basis for other search engines, and its Mechanical Turk site solicits humans across cyberspace to do things that computers still can't do well, such as identify images or transcribe podcasts. Top of page

Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.
Manage alerts | What is this?