A Dash Of Wallop

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!

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