Reporter's notebook: Visions of a Groove thing

By Jack Vaughan, |  Business

One of this week's hot happenings was Lotus Notes creator Ray Ozzie's return to the
scene, with software for ad-hoc group collaboration in hand. He now sits at the helm of
Groove Networks (Beverly, Mass.), which has launched the Groove peer computing

Groove's new collaborative platform is part Internet messenger, part group calendar,
and part peer-to-peer file sharer. But in the hands of the visionary Ozzie, such simple
elements may combine to become much more. He and other industry viewers anticipate that
corporations will form project groups that employ different software tools on an as-
needed basis, with Groove as the fulcrum.

Another visionary was notable at the Groove rollout. On hand to help start up the
Groove bandwagon was none other than Dan Bricklin, father of the electronic spreadsheet
known as VisiCalc and head of Trellix Corp. (Concord, Mass.). Trellix has evolved from
a maker of a collaborative document creation environment into a full-fledged maker of
Web-building tools. We hoped to talk to Bricklin to get one visionary's view on
another's latest creation.

But first some background on Trellix. Fairly early on, Bricklin decided not to duke
it out in the mainstream Webpage-tools business, where there are either low-margin
consumer tools or strict corporate buying edicts. With Trellix, Bricklin has instead
chosen to make his way by forging deals with destinations, which might be
better described as big-membership Websites. On these sites, which include Lycos's
Tripod and ZDNet, a server-based version of Trellix is employed to help novices design
complex Webpages that are compiled on the fly.

This week, Trellix agreed to integrate the Groove platform with Web Express, its
private-label Website-building service. This allows Groove an entree to a potential
mass market.

Groove Networks will have to do more along these lines for its product to gain
ubiquity; this is crucial to a potential mass-category product, akin in some ways to
AOL Instant Messenger and Napster. Ultimately, Groove will have to appear as a default
icon on newly shipped PCs, or as a favored pop-up window on major Internet portals.

To find out where Groove may be headed, caught up with Dan Bricklin not
long after the Groove rollout. Much has been made of Groove Networks's use of peer-to-
peer computing architecture, but Bricklin said that is not entirely the point.

"They don't go after P2P for the sake of P2P," he said. "Ray [Ozzie] watched
his kids use the Web, and saw they were able to communicate in multiple chat rooms
simultaneously, or use a customized version of Quake.

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