Tubes – A new collaboration startup — Not Enterprise Ready Though

So let me take a minute to preface this blog entry by telling you what I think is one of the greatest attribute of the Internet.

Electronic Collaboration – ANYWHERE, and at ANYTIME.

In the old days back in the mid 80’s Foot in mouth I started installing Ethernet networks into small businesses. For small businesses who couldn’t afford Token-Ring this was like the biggest thing since sliced bread. Everyone in the office could actually share applications and work together on accounting or other business related applications.

The Internet has given the world instant-on collaboration – one to one, one to many and many to many. Napster started P2P for music and now we are seeing technology that helps us collaborate more easily.

A new company out of Boston Massachusetts called Tubes is trying to make it easier for people to share and collaborate. With Tubes, a person installs a Windows based application and then they can create a “Tube” where they place files. You invite your friends and the files you place in your “Tube” are synchronized with your “Tube” friends without any additional work on your part.

A friend of mine invited me to his Tube and I found the application to work well. However, he put a work related document in the Tube and after some research I told him that wasn’t a good idea. The reason it isn’t a good idea to use Tubes for corporate related work is that it is 1) a P2P product and 2) Any document you place in your Tube is actually copied to a server in the Tubes data center (this is how they can guarantee your content gets copied to your friends when you are offline).

For many corporate users this kind of technology is against company policy because the data goes outside of the company’s network and thus is susceptible to being compromised.

Although I think the Tubes technology is great for personal use, it is not ready for prime time in the Enterprise.

And this is a beef I have with many startups. There are a lot of smart people out there building what is known as WEB 2.0 Internet based applications. These people are obviously smarter than I as I don’t totally understand their revenue model. Sure a product like Tubes can be monetized by adding premium features that cost people money or even adding advertising features to make money. But most Internet start-ups missed the biggest boat tanker out there — the corporate users.

Products like Tubes could easily be outfitted to be corporate friendly. Once an application like Tubes can live within the corporate environment they can sell licenses and create a revenue stream to help further fund the start-up to move the product to the mass markets.

Oh yea, and the second grip I have with the people running Tubes and many other start-ups is that they use generic contact email for customers to send feedback. If I were a start-up I’d have the emails of every technical person, program managers and especially executive management on the company’s web site so customers could have a conversation with anyone in the company instantly. Oh, yea, grip three is if you are a start-up and have a blog with commenting turned on, allow anonymous commenting. If someone is willing to give you feedback you should make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

This grip is just for the Tubes people again. I have a Tubes user ID but this ID is not valid for use in The Tubes Community forum. I had to register again to be a part of the community so I could post to the forums and comment on the blogs. Requiring double registration is plainly STUPID.

TUBES — good for personal collaboration, not ENTERPRISE READY, YET.
TUBES Company — Needs to work on some communication issues.

Update: 01.28.2009

It looks like Tubes didn’t make it…
If you’re looking for a easy to use file share application give Windows Live Sync a shot. It is a product by Microsoft so I think it will be able to survive all the Web 2.0 application startup and failures.

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