Wikis are Web pages that users can write on as well as read. The concept, developed in the mid-1990s by programmer Ward Cunningham, has evolved as a way for work groups to create documents that can be updated continuously.
The popularity of wikis attracted Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer. The two men in 1993 helped to start Excite — which was sold in 1999 to @Home Corp. — and have now formed JotSpot, a start-up that hopes to make wikis easier to set up and to program. That way, companies can more quickly create simple Web-based software to handle chores such as tracking job applicants or customer calls, Mr. Kraus said.
At the moment, many companies find it too difficult or expensive to tailor business applications themselves. In many cases, they resort to managing common tasks using a combination of Microsoft Corp.’s Excel spreadsheets and e-mail, Mr. Kraus noted. That poses problems, since it can be hard to keep track of information that can be stored in many mailboxes and isn’t automatically updated.
JotSpot, a closely held company in Silicon Valley, has raised $5.2 million from venture-capital firms Mayfield and Redpoint Ventures. It plans to offer easier ways to edit wiki pages. It also will offer templates for simple business applications as well as easier ways to send e-mail to and from wikis. In addition, instead of making customers run wiki software on their own servers, it plans to offer wikis as a service managed on its own computers, though it hasn’t announced pricing plans.
Peter O’Kelly, an analyst with market researcher Burton Group, says JotSpot made a good decision in adding database technology to help users structure and sort through information. Existing wikis can fill up with information that is hard to manage, he said.
Jeremy Zawodny adds from Web2.0:
Joe is doing a short demo of JotSpot, a new generation Wiki that makes it easier to add structured data to the system in addition to pulling in external data via RSS, Web Services, and so on. Very cool stuff. Their Wiki is easily scripted, so I can imagine using it to protoype loosely coupled web applications.
He’s showing SalesForces.com integration via SOAP right now. Nice. He’s pulling in Yahoo News RSS feeds for topics on his pages.
So it’s a Wiki with structure that you can evolve into a full-blown application. This feels like Lotus Notes re-invented for the web or something.