February 26, 2001, 10:49 AM — I RECENTLY MET WITH one of the founders of wireless technology startup Xigo, Lenny Raymond, who calls himself "chief spackling officer." I'm not sure what that means. My father was a house painter, and he tried to teach me how to spackle cracks in the walls before painting. Maybe there is a metaphor here that I am missing.
Xigo's technology, the "dynamic intelligence platform," takes financial feeds, live streaming text, and numeric data from dozens of content suppliers and then analyzes, categorizes, and matches it all to user profiles. The technology simultaneously ranks and presents the information in an easy-to-read format in order of importance to the recipient. It does not filter out any data; Raymond was very clear on that. Nor does it batch and summarize from the many financial feeds it uses. The information is original and uncut and is targeted at brokers or day traders. I can attest that the format is easy to read.
But what I found most striking was how impressed Raymond was with the computer technology that could achieve such a high degree of analysis. He never realized, it seemed to me, that the computer was as dumb as ever and that it was actually he and his co-developers who created the program that had the brains. I asked him how long it took to design the knowledge management application that sits behind the simple interface; he said three years.
Three years of probably 80-hour workweeks and he somehow still believes the computer is brilliant.
Software code branches more than it used to and computers have gotten a lot faster, but for all intents and purposes that's about all you can say about today's machines.
As to whether San Francisco-based Xigo (www.xigo.com) will make it as a company, I haven't the foggiest. But I will tell you that this week Xigo will announce its first big customer, Web Street Securities, in Chicago.
Irvine, Calif.-based Wavetrend (www.wavetrend.com), which I also visited recently, is about to launch at the end of March an all-in-one corporate security card based on what is sometimes called a personal area network or PAN. Operating via wireless networks, this PC Card-size device does everything from opening the door only for authorized employees to encrypting all the files on your PC when you leave the room; it then uses 256-bit encryption to decrypt them when you return.
The card reader attaches to the PC, and users keep their cards with them.