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openCOLA's Agnostic Streaming Media Search

Dec 14, 2000, 23:21 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Singer)

By Michael Singer

Sometimes you don't need a fancy booth at a trade show to make a big splash.

Take little-known openCOLA, whose members weaved in and out of the crowds passing out flyers at the Streaming Media Conference, Wednesday in San Jose.

What we're doing is making something that is more objective that what the Web can offer," says openCOLA Director of Streaming Media Rich Williams.

The Toronto-based company with San Francisco offices makes Colavison, an XML-based distributive peer-to-peer (P2P) search and announcement tool for streaming media.

"It's independent of the Web," says Williams. "If you're someone who has a broadband connection and you like to watch streams and listen to audio, you're still forced to go to a search site like Yahoo and maybe click through a layer of Web interaction that is not relevant to you."

Williams says the system is format independent, device independent and platform independent.

"Right now its about 150K and sits on your desktop," says Williams. "You're able to input criteria similar to meta-information you would find in MP3 or other streaming formats."

TRADESHOW GUERILLA MARKETING

Without an official booth at the show, Williams and a handful of openCOLA faithful roamed the floor with as many fliers that they could handle, handing them to just about anyone who will listen.

"We're marketing our product to content developers, networks - just about everyone who knows that streaming media has its own place and should be independent of the Web," says Williams.

Dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, Williams looks more like a programmer than a pitchman, but after six years of attending Streaming Media conferences he says the company spends its money on the product than the promotion.

"When I come here, I see a lot of companies that are competing with each other," says Williams. "I've been involved with these conferences since 1994, and since the project has changed over the years I've done just about everything.

The company was formed last year, employs about 40-45 people and has just gone through its second round of financing. After unloading his stacks of business cards and fliers, Williams says he hopes to partner with someone who loves broadband but hates searching through advertising to get to it.

"This is a more objective and more realistic approach to finding out what's on the Internet," says Williams.

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