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Summary:

Karl Jacob used to be a regular fixture at most Red Herring conferences and events. As a serial entrepreneur he started Dimension X and then later went on to found be the CEO of Keen.com, the company that became infamous for being the home of “psychics” […]

Karl Jacob used to be a regular fixture at most Red Herring conferences and events. As a serial entrepreneur he started Dimension X and then later went on to found be the CEO of Keen.com, the company that became infamous for being the home of “psychics” and other 900-number crowd. (These days the company is called Ingenio.) Karl’s next act was as the CEO of email spam-killer Cloudmark.

And then he just vanished. I was quite surprised to hear from after these many years. He confessed he spent a lot of time on Kite-surfing or something equally hideous involving sweat and physical labor. The reason for his call – the very same reason most entrepreneurs call reporters – his new company. Its a social network whatshouldicallit spin-out from Microsoft Research called Wallop.

Jacob is one of the long list of Internet 1.0 guys to make a comeback to the Valley. Is that a sign of the times? Of a Boom or a Bubble? I don’t know. One thing, I do know – Wallop better be good, for the number of social networks are growing faster than the number of pimples on a teenager, and most if not all, have failed to so much as cause a dent in MySpace’s popularity.

The details are sketchy, and no details of funding either, except that Microsoft has a minority stake in the project, and Bay Partners’ Eric Chin led the investment. Jacob says it was a sandbox project at MR (which incidentally spends nearly $7 billion.)

Jacob says he worked with the big guys up North to turn this into a company. Jacob added that it also addresses some of concerns regarding security and privacy in today’s social networks. “We are trying to bring the elements of off line (physical) interactions into online social networks,” Jacob says. Though he doesn’t elaborate. So at this point – well its just a dash of Wallop!

  1. OM, I am quite familiar with the Wallop story and wrote a blog on it today. http://dondodge.typepad.com/thenextbigthing/2006/04/wallopmicrosof.html

    As often happens with research projects, Microsoft decided not to commercialize the Wallop project and instead offered to license the technology. Microsoft has a new group, Microsoft IP Ventures, established to license LOTS of technology developed by the research labs that for one reason or another will not be commercialized. I encourage you to take a look at the long and growing list of technologies available for license from Microsoft Research.

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  2. I’m not sure any company will ‘dent’ Myspace’s popularity. Do you think users of myspace who have investing themselves into one place will up and move for a better product or a newer product? I don’t think so. For Myspace’s numbers to decline it would have to ignore users wishes and/or restrict their freedom and Myspace is far from erring on those two fronts.

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  3. I’ve had a Wallop account for several months now. Definitely not a Myspace killer; not, in fact, even an Orkut killer.

    At least in its current form. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t logged in in long enough that they may have changed some things while I’ve been gone.

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  4. FYI, Karl Jacob did not found or co-found Keen / Ingenio / Ether. Scott Faber came up with the idea and founded this business long before the VCs named Karl CEO.

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  5. I checked out the homepage if Firefox. The links are really buggy for me, at least. A sign of things to come? We shall see.

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  6. When will companies realize that Karl Jacob is complete poison? He spends virtually all of his time at the helm promoting himself, while fostering a climate of paranoia and powerlessness within.

    Om, the real story here would be to talk to the actual founders of Ingenio (Faber/Vanderlinden) and Cloudmark (Jordan Ritter/Vipul Prakash) to see just how Jacob operates, including the pathological and completely false insistence in each case that somehow he was a founder (this is central to his concept of self). It would be an interesting study in how a CEO so reviled and damaging manages to skate from high-level position to high-level position.

    Second largest number next to infinity? The difference between what Karl thinks of himself and his actual talent.

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  7. Mr. Casey,

    thanks for the correction on Jacob’s role at Keen. Sorry about that and regret the error.

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  8. Might as well post my old story from last year on Wallop and Microsoft Research here. Hope you don’t mind, Om:

    Diamonds in the Rough at Redmond
    http://www.alwayson-network.com/comments.php?id=84730260C

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  9. Since the 18th, we launched Ziki.com, the first open social network. Give it a try !

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  10. i was an very early user of wallop … quite impressive, but not sure if it’s even wants to be a myspace killer? who wants to be another ad pool? we’ve got enough of those, no?

    wallop is nice ;)

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