Many know Portland-based Vidoop—yes, they DO have a new look—as purveyor of OpenID provider myVidoop and home to the DiSo Project, “an umbrella project for a group of open source implementations of distributed social networking concepts.”
But Vidoop also has a number of revenue generating tricks in its bag, from the advertising that comprises its ImageShield to the enhanced security products that it sells.
Today at Finovate, Vidoop launched a new suite of those security products targeted at financial institutions, healthcare organizations, and corporations. And for banks in particular, Vidoop highlights that they offer “three options for providing strong authentication for accessing Web sites.”
The announcement appears to be striking a chord. According to Banktastic, “Your bank or credit union NEEDS to look into this.”
Of course, the real magic of Vidoop’s easy to implement, tough to defeat, advertising-supported security is that it not only reduces implementation and maintenance costs, it actually provides another way for businesses to generate revenue.
The ImageShield provides advertisers the opportunity to sponsor images within certain categories. Customers who choose to enable advertising-supported logins can obtain Vidoop’s increased security at little or no cost, and in some cases, generate revenue through the sponsored images.
“Not only can financial institutions potentially make money using Vidoop, but they can also realize substantial savings through customer service,” said Mitch Savage, Vidoop’s Executive Vice President, Business Development. “The number one call to most customer support centers is login issues. Vidoop provides an easier way for users to remember passwords with images, and now we have two additional ways they can authenticate without requiring expensive call center support.”
It’s common knowledge that we are afforded the luxury of our relatively cushy existence here in Oregon thanks to the efforts of pioneers. Pioneers who spent many an arduous day sitting on uncomfortable wagon seats as they headed toward their new home.
Last I heard, that whole “pioneer” thing isn’t a requirement to be a resident of the state anymore. Unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately for our amusement—no one told the soon-to-be officially Portland-based Vidoop.
Because they’re recreating the Oregon Trail with a trip from Tulsa to Portland. That’s right. The entire Tulsa crew is packing into a convoy and heading north to their new home.
28 people. 4 RVs. 7 U-Hauls. 42 people. 4 RVs. 5 U-Hauls, 2 trailers, 2 cars, 8 pets, and 1 blueberry bush. 5 days to get across the country.
And while the listings might be a little more cryptic now—and unfortunately lacking in indicators in regards to movement this time around—this effort continues to provide a interesting way to assess and discuss the local startup scene.
The biggest mover on this edition of the index? Pheedo rocketing up 33 slots to crack the top 20.
Strangest part of the new list? Vidoop has completely dropped off the index during the week that they’re relocating the entire company to Portland. NetworthIQ (acquired by Strands), MyOpenID (JanRain‘s OpenID relying party), and Workplace2go also disappeared from the list.
One of the regular fixtures of the burgeoning Portland Web tech scene has been Troy Harlan (@theInfovore), a recent transplant from the Bay Area.
And time and time again, I would hear the inevitable small-talk question arise. “So… where do you work?” And time and time again, Troy would respond that he was “looking for the right thing to come along.”
Last week, Harlan hinted that the wait might be at an end, but that he “didn’t want to jinx it.”
Well, it looks like the waiting has paid off. And how.
Troy will be joining Portland-based Vidoop on September 2nd as Senior Sales Engineer. He will serve as a primary technical resource for Vidoop’s newest customers, helping them through their integration testing and shepherding them into production.
Mitch Savage, Troy’s new boss, shares that Vidoop was eager to work with Troy because of “his strong technical chops and his broad experience with system integrations.”
“The hardest thing about bringing Troy on is that his start date occurs during Vidoop’s all-company move to Portland,” said Savage. “But we’re making it work. That’s how much we wanted Troy on board.”
Congratulations to Troy on his new gig. And congrats to Vidoop on continuing to snap up the best and brightest in town.
In the midst of World War II—likely a bit before all of our times—Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin) funded a highly creative group of engineers, focused on developing the next generation of aircraft. Shrouded in secrecy, the project turned out concepts that continue to influence the aircraft at which we still marvel today.
And which, with all likelihood, continues to secretly burn the midnight oil constructing concept craft that will provide the transport of tomorrow.
The project, according to Wikipedia’s entry, was affectionately dubbed the “Skunk Works,” after a popular comic of the day:
The term “Skunk Works” came from the Al Cappcomic stripLi’l Abner, which was popular in the 1940s. In the comic, the “Skonk Works” was a backwoods still operated by Big Barnsmell, known as the “inside man at the Skonk Works”. In his secret facility, he made “kickapoo joy juice” by grinding dead skunks and worn shoes into a smoldering vat.
So why the history lesson? Did I change the blog focus to have more of a Lost Oregon vibe?
No. But, tarry a moment longer, gentle reader. Bear with me. Please allow me to explain.
Why, in the name of all things AJAX-y, would I ever try to equate this sort of old-school aircraft engineering concept with anything occurring in the Web 2.0 world of today?
Because, I’ve long held the opinion that Portland-based Vidoop—with its hires like Scott Kveton and Chris Messina coupled with its continued incubation of some very cutting edge projects—is well on its way to creating Skunk Works 2.0.
And Kveton and Messina aren’t alone. Vidoop has hired up a laundry list of talent. A list that bled Tulsa dry and caused them to look for other markets. And now, they’ve been hiring a very intelligent group of folks here in Portland.
But what Vidoop is doing with those people is as interesting as any of the projects on which they’re working.
You see, Vidoop is giving them space. Giving them free reign. Giving them autonomy. And allowing them to be creative. Or to continue the creative works that they may have been pursuing elsewhere.
Only they’re giving them more resources with which to work.
Still not making the Skunk Works connections? Well, the intuitive leap becomes far less difficult when you consider this little snippet (also from the Wikipedia “Skunk Works” entry):
[Skunk Works was an] organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects.
Ah ha! Now, it’s starting to work.
I mean, what better way to describe Vidoop’s early focus on OpenID, its adoption of the DiSo efforts, and its funding the development of efforts like Emailtoid and EAUT (Yute!).
Vidoop is clearly pursuing something unique. A Skunk Works of its own. A development organization that pushes the envelope for the Open Web. That dreams up what could be. That lives free of the bureaucracy that tends to hamper more thoughtful and progressive projects. That seeks to fund and feed those projects that may not otherwise get the care and feeding they deserve.
And that’s happening right here in Portland.
And with the launch of Vidoop Labs, the Vidoop folks have begun formalize an umbrella for the projects already underway:
Today we are launching Vidoop Labs as a central place where we will be showcasing existing and future technology projects that we believe will help take the Internet and its users to a better place. Since most of these projects are open source in nature, I’d like to encourage everyone to get some code on their hands. We are all in this together!
Now, granted, one major difference between the original Skunk Works and Vidoop Labs is the veil of secrecy. Vidoop Labs is churning quickly and fairly transparently, if the Emailtoid to EAUT progression is any indication.
And I expect that trend to continue.
Not to get all Pollyanna, but man, what a great experiment.
Get a bunch of smart people in a room. And let them create. Let them do what they do best. And see what comes of it.
Not knowing, at the outset, what you’re going to get. But having utmost confidence that the team will deliver something creative, well engineered, and valuable.
If that’s not the kind of work I’d like to see happening in Portland, I don’t know what is.
Now, Vidoop’s Will Norris and Michael Richardson have helped take the concept of Emailtoid a step further by working on the development of a new spec. It’s a spec that may simplify the issue even further.
Introducing EAUT—pronounced “yute“—a distributed email address to URL translation that allows anyone to take the conversion from email address to OpenID URL and hide it behind the scenes of the transaction. With just a little bit of code.
In basic terms EAUT makes it easy to take an email address and transform it into an URL, making your email work with services like OpenID. The goal with Emailtoid is to demonstrate the technology and provide a fallback solution for a larger, decentralized network based on the EAUT specification.
What’s more, it’s decentralized. Meaning any email address—any email address—now holds the potential to become an OpenID:
EAUT is designed to work in a distributed fashion, so that no one authority controls it. Every email provider can control how email addresses at their domain are resolved into URLs.
So, now that bright and shiny new Emailtoid—instead of leading the charge—becomes the fallback service should this validation fail. According to plan.
Hopefully, the release of the EAUT spec continues to chip away at the barriers that are preventing major providers—providers that serve as relying parties but don’t allow users to login via OpenID—to move into the realm of becoming full-fledged OpenID supporters.
And in so doing, here’s hoping that EAUT helps accelerate the adoption of OpenID, a concept that today may only save headaches for a handful of geeks with innumerable logins, but which may one day serve as an open foundation for credentials and security on the open Web of the future.
Combining the power of OpenID with the ease of email addresses. And making it open and distributed.
Portland-based Vidoop continues to attract leading talent. Their latest hire, Bob Uva, is an industry veteran with an impressive development history. His most recent efforts have been focused on .NET C# distributed application development.
So what does Vidoop gain with Bob’s talents? Good question. And I say that, mostly, because it’s exactly the same question I asked Bob.
“I have been a software developer for twenty-two years, working mostly with the Microsoft stack, everything from Windows 16-bit to 32-bit programming in C, C++ and C#/.NET,” said Uva. “I bring a lot of experience with Microsoft technologies to Vidoop, as well as a desire to help the company realize a larger vision in open web technologies for identity management and security.”
Glad to see the Vidoop team continue to grow even as they ready themselves for a mass influx of Tulsa talent. I, for one, can’t wait to see what this team is able to accomplish.