Stock market analysts in the main world financial centers already voice concerns over the overvalued Facebook and Twitter and started asking questions whether these cloud-based services will trigger the next bubble in the IT industry. In the meantime, start-ups like webdoc.com are eager to grab market share in a lucrative market of social platforms aimed at consumers that increasingly share, create and store content in the Cloud.
The Swiss-based Webdoc is a relatively young company, founded in 2009 by a group of serial entrepreneurs and geeks, and regardless of its name, suggesting a collaborative cloud platform, it is more a Facebook-like service. The company employs about 15 people, according to its public Linkedin and CrunchBase profiles, but has the ambition to offer “open spaces for social expression”. The company boasts a brand new approach to social platforms but unbiased observers will hardly find any significant differences between Webdoc and Facebook, at first glance.
At second reading, however, one will realize that Webdoc offers possibility to insert almost unlimited types of content into their “webdocs”. Most cloud-based social platforms allow users to put text, pictures, videos and music into their profile pages, “walls”, whatever they are called. Webdoc offers functionality to integrate interactive applications like slideshows, games and polls into a webdoc. In addition, users can put into their webdocs web services like Twitter or Google Maps.
Actually, some of the companies we already reviewed in the Top 25 European Rising Stars Series are applying similar approach and deploy analogous functionality in their cloud platforms, services and software. The difference is that Webdoc is a more spontaneous platform where people are able only to listen to others and to group around topics, events, and content. It is not an original idea, though, not many other services bet on such a policy.
Webdoc is a simple to use platform featuring drag-and-drop functionality while allowing users to add even entire web sites to their postings. It seems that the company has decided to enable users to embed almost everything into their webdocs, realizing that digital content is experiencing fast-paced development that widens the bounds of the social platforms as a widespread instrument of communication.
Unsurprisingly, Webdoc features private and public conversations with private ones differing from the public webdocs in their limited number of friends allowed to see the content that is put into them. Users can log in with their Twitter and Facebook accounts, which is another advantage in a world of growing number of personal digital accounts and hints that the company wants to build on the popularity of these services before trying to oust them. It looks like a clever business model for a start-up still gaining popularity and lacking finances to fight multi-billion behemoths in an open duel. At the same time, applying of such relaxed approach toward account policy opens the door for more loyal Facebook and Twitter users to try what Webdoc has to offer.
The company is still waiting for a major financial boost by venture capital investors despite that it is not quite clear whether the founders of Webdoc are actively looking for external financing. The company attracted the attention of those who keep a close eye on the cloud industry and innovative IT companies as well as professionals who understand that gradual development can be more advantageous in long-run compared to an aggressive marketing campaign backing an underdeveloped product.
Webdoc is not aggressively promoting their product nor they are fueling the hype around the company. One should be aware, however, that companies like Skype, ICQ, AVG, etc., emerged outside the Silicon Valley but gradually evolved becoming well known world leaders in their respective market segments.
The Bible tells a story about David who managed to overcome Goliath armed with a sling not a catapult, and the same story reiterates during history of humankind, including history of business and market development. Webdoc started a promising project in the Cloud, yet we have to see whether the company is capable to gain momentum or will fizzle out like many other start-ups in the technology sector which failed to materialize a good business idea.
By Kiril Kirilov