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January - 2000 - issue > Cover Feature
Web Everywhere
Saturday, January 1, 2000

Silicon Valley based everypath.com makes selected sections of any Web site’s content accessible through a plethora of hand-held devices. Whereas current wireless access is restricted to a select few sites hawking their information, everypath.com promises to convert any site in a matter of hours. “I met a guy who told me that his family was hooked on geneology.com. Everyday someone would discover a lost relative, and a link would be posted. That’s the information he wanted to keep tabs on all the time,” said Venk Shukla, CEO of everypath.com.

Along with access from the en vogue devices of the “digital elite,” everypath.com also enables access from the more traditional, accessible tools, like the desktop PC — or even the comparatively old fashioned telephone. A site’s selected content can be successfully navigated and manipulated via voice, making costly and often laboriously developed voice systems superfluous for the client company. Instead of an airline developing a phone access system with its own separate logical and operational base developed separately from its online presence, its Web site can now cope with the phone customers. The former can take months, whereas everypath.com’s solution can kick-in in hours.

Goel’s the Glue

The common thread running through the founding team of Piyush Goel, Prakash Ayer, Amitabh Sinha, and Rajiv Mohindra was Goel, now the CTO of the company originally called Webonphone. Shukla had connected Goel to someone who would look over the business plan and help secure funding. A few months later, Goel returned to Shukla for help, realizing that things weren’t coming together the way they were supposed to. Shukla met the team, heard the concept, became the lead investor, and proceeded to raise $2 million in seed round funding. He joined the company as chairman of the board in November of 1998, and took over as full time CEO in April of 1999.

The Eyes and Ears

Companies that already have a Web site can go to everypath.com and extend its reach. “Right now our primary business model is to be an application service provider. We provide a complete solution, we host it, we run it. It’s not for a programmer, but for a knowledge worker. If you don’t have the programming muscle, you can still use our tool,” said Prakash Ayer, VP of application engineering. “It’s a customized rendering of Internet content for all the devices that are available today. And it’s not a blind rendering – our tool allows you to choose exactly what you want, and then quickly make it available over all these mediums.”

“We believe that the Web has developed as the primary medium where people deploy and deliver applications. If they have a Web site, they’ve already done the difficult part...they’ve gathered the data, decided how to publish it, how to put in all the logic,” said Goel. “Having done that once, why should you have to duplicate your effort? We leverage the fact that you already have a framework that is functioning, and extend it.”

If you want your site rendered, everypath.com provides the solution with no disruption on your end. “You change nothing in your infrastructure. To your server, we’re just like any other browser. It’s like an invisible browser. If you’re using a phone, you’ll also access our server. From there we use text-to-speech engines,” said Ayer. The company promises to incorporate all future devices into its platform as well.

Back End

everypath.com’s technology is a combination of a tool and a server. It has two patents pending, one for each arm. A server functions as a liaison between the Web and the numerous portable devices that will connect to it. “The challenges facing display and voice are different. With voice, it’s a matter of two-dimensional selection. You take it from one display format to another. One screen may be smaller or bigger, but it’s the same content. With voice, you have to worry not only about the content, but also about the sequential order it will be related in. Our tool allows you to easily transform that interface,” said Goel.

It’s a technology that Shukla says is based on a conceptual break from traditional thinking. “Before, people used to think that you had to create a different user interface for all the separate devices. You would have to create a phone platform, a Palm Pilot platform, and on down the line. everypath.com is the one company that makes your content accessible via the whole spectrum of devices.”

What’s Ahead

It’s a good idea – and like most in the ferocious technology industry, it won’t be alone for very long. “We’re starting to have competition more and more. When we first started out, we were the only show in town. But people have started to show up. Some have already come and gone. What distinguishes us is that we have one solution for all the devices,” says Goel. “One of the key differences between us and those that are close to our space is that we are device agnostic. Some people focus on the display side, others the voice. We don’t distinguish. We have experts on both sides,” adds Ayer.

Infospace’s recent acquisition of Saraide indicates that the heavyweight is hot for wireless Internet. Microsoft, in its talks with Ericson, is signaling the same thing. Oracle, already a leader as a content provider and database company, is headed in the same direction. These emerging alliances will increasingly provide time-sensitive information over a variety of wireless mediums. everypath.com’s premise, that the Internet is essentially successful because it puts the user in the driver’s seat, will be tested. Also, user interface will be crucial to success. For Shukla and the boys, the game has just begun.

everypath.com will enjoy an early lead, and the company has already experienced the rapid first stages of growth. But as the space heats up and the heavy hitters start moving in, everypath.com may be better poised for an acquisition than an IPO. And if the price is right, that’s a path Shukla and his gang may not mind walking down.

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