Or, if at first and second you don’t succeed, morph into something new. Halsey Minor and his investors thought well-capitalized Grand Central Communications would rule as a web services software integration hub. Tens of millions of dollars later, as explained so well by Dan Farber, that vague notion has shifted in a more focused direction — merging the integration hub power of Grand Central with the “hottest Web space – online advertising and e-commerce.” Swivel, the new operating company, provides a multi-pronged software service that can track ad revenue and metrics across multiple ad programs. The beta’s “coming soon” tab promises to integrate salesforce.com data, manage financial data from PayPal and Intuit and expand product distribution by aggregating data across multiple services.
Former Grand Central employee Byrne Reese, now at Six Apart, reviewed the beta. He wasn’t starting from the best place — “I will be perfectly honest, when I left Grand Central, much of the hope I once had for their product had vanished. All that was exciting about the concept of Grand Central had been sapped away by an inability to find a real problem to solve.” What he found was a real product with real utility, value and a lot of room for improvement.