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A Winning Combination: Software-as-Services Plus Business Consulting and Process Services
By Laurie McCabe
January 30, 2004

The creators of Netscape and Exodus separately launched high-profile ASP startups yesterday, each putting their own innovative spin on the ASP model.

Netscape co-founder and former CTO Marc Andreessen, along with fellow-alumni from the Web browser and server vendor, launched Loudcloud to provide web site infrastructure services to dot-com ventures. Exodus Communications co-founder K B Chandrasekhar launched Jamcracker, an aggregator of ASP services for medium-size companies.

Both ventures are well-funded. Loudcloud is backed by $68m equity funding from Benchmark Capital and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, while Jamcracker has $42m in equity and debt financing, with Internet Capital Group leading the $30m equity contribution.

Jamcracker is the first pureplay application service aggregator. It is assembling a portfolio of pre-tested offerings from ASPs and Internet-based software vendors, which it will offer to enterprises through their own customised application portal. The environment provides secure, single sign-on, 24×7 global support and full accountability for service levels.

As well as a choice of applications covering finance, human resources, customer relationship management, and other business operations, Jamcracker offers IT services such as remote access, desktop management and infrastructure monitoring. It believes it can bring together a broad range of best-of-breed application providers, attracted by its ability to reach and support a large customer base, and by its offer of co-marketing programmes.

Loudcloud, launched at the prestigious Demo 2000 conference in southern California, offers a range of packaged hosting services for high-performance web sites, with a guarantee of 100% scheduled uptime. The services are built on proprietary technology that automates the tasks associated with managing and monitoring a web site. As well as web server, application server and database server hosting, the range of services includes security, outbound email, and pre-live testing facilities.

Loudcloud hosts at Exodus and GlobalCenter, and technology partners include leading vendors Sun, HP, EMC, Oracle and the Sun-Netscape Alliance.

It announced seven existing customers, including online hiring marketplace SkillsVillage.com, events management services portal Acteva, and mystery startup Catapulse, co-founded by the original founders of software development tools vendor Rational Software. Catapulse yesterday announced it has secured $75m first round funding, $50m of it from Rational and $25m from Loudcloud backer Benchmark. Founded in October 1999 and due to launch later this year, Catapulse is developing Internet-based resources that it claims will “change the nature of software development”. No other details about the company were made available.

“The Internet is forcing every company – from startups to Global 100 businesses – to evolve into a software services company,” said Andreessen, endorsing the Catapulse announcement.

Another notable ASP launch at Demo 2000 was ThinkFree Office, a free-of-charge, Web-based office productivity suite that claims to be fully compatible with Microsoft Office. The Java-based suite, which is hosted at its creator ThinkFree.com’s applications portal, has a distributed architecture that supports offline working as an option.


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