Subject: Re: CISTO business idea (was Re: Opportunity lost? ...)
From: Norbert Bollow <nb@thinkcoach.com>
Date: Sat, 12 May 2001 18:13:51 +0200

> In other words, a little like Collabnet's SourceCast hosted delivery,
> although that is more aimed at hosting development projects:
>     http://www.collab.net/products/sourcecast/hosted_delivery.html

Yes.  The difference is that SourceCast focuses of commutities
for creating software, while Cisto will focus on communities for
exchanging text messages.

> Also maybe a little like LoudCloud, though they don't seem to have the
> community building stuff (I think they used to talk more about stuff
> like this, although I may misremember):
>     http://www.loudcloud.com/

It looks like LoudCloud is specialized on reliable server
operation and maintenace without any focus on specific software
products.  Cisto will focus on having extremely high competence
with a small number of small number of Free Software solutions
for internet communitites.  Cisto will work together with other
similar companies that focus on other Free Software products.
The vision is that eventually all these companies would join
forces to become the Free Software Marketing Company envisioned
by Tony Stanco.  The main thing of these ideas is make sure that
a majority of the shares is always owned by the develeoper
community.  If you think about it, this is extremely important. 

> How would you compare this to Yahoo Clubs (http://clubs.yahoo.com/) or
> Yahoo Groups (http://groups.yahoo.com/)?  The general idea seems quite
> similar to me, but I am not very familiar with the Yahoo offerings.

When Yahoo becomes a customer of Cisto we'll know that we've
been doing something right.  TBBBS may eventually offer all the
user functionality of Yahoo Clubs and Yahoo Groups, with the
major difference that it is a key design element of TBBBS the
craete search-engine friendly archives on the web.  With
search-engine firendly I don't just mean to avoid characters in
URL that cause the search engines to avoid spidering the page in
the first place (as is the case e.g. with the archives of this
mailing list) but to create the archives in such a way that it
is easy for the search engines to determine which archive pages
are highly relevant to a given search query.  With other words,
TBBBS will employ some of the "insider" techniques of
"search-engine positioning", but only those which make sense in
communicating true and useful information to the search engine
spider, and none of the "search-engine abuse of the day" tricks.

Until a useful version of TBBBS is available, obviously Cisto
can only sell services that are based on Mailman and Phorum.
The idea is that during this time Cisto will grow in a slow and
healthy way.  The developers of TBBBS will be paid not with cash
but with shares of Cisto.  When TBBBS becomes available, a
signigicant amount of capital will be needed to seriously market
Cisto's TBBBS-related services.  At that stage investors will be
needed.  I expect that it will be easier to raise the necessary
capital when there is evidence already that Cisto's business
model works well with communities that are realised with Mailman
or Phorum.

Investors want to know that the company they're investing in has
some strategic advantage that cannot easily be copied by others.
Because Cisto is based on a Free Software philosophy, no "patent
protection" nor "source-hiding" or other obfuscation techniques
will be used.  Instead, Cisto's strategic advantage will consist
in it's closeness to the developers of TBBBS which allows Cisto
to provide a quality of service in the areas of "express" fixing
of bugs and adding features upon request that cannot easily be
matched by any competitor.

If Cisto is successful with TBBBS, the shares of Cisto that are
owned by the developers of TBBBS are worth something.  If TBBBS
is a flop, those shares are worthless.

With other words this is not simply a way of paying free
software development no-matter-what, but there is a natural
relation between how much money the developers make through the
venture, and how useful TBBBS turns out to be for the intended
target group of users.  So there is a good incentive to create
really useful software.

Greetings, Norbert.

-- 
Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet (near Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel +41 1 972 20 59     Fax +41 1 972 20 69      nb@freedevelopers.net
> Currently recruiting:  Perl programmers  and  JSP (JavaServer Pages)
> programmers for the "Traffic Building Bulletin Board System" project
> at FreeDevelopers.Net    ------------------>    See http://tbbbs.org