David Greschler (co-founder of Softricity App-V, and until recently, Director of Virtualization and Cloud strategy at Microsoft) and Doug Brown (founder of DABCC) recently unveiled the beta of their new venture, PaperShare. It's a cloud service that allows people to find high-quality information about virtualization and cloud computing based on other people's recommendations. It's also designed to make it easy to meet and interact with the entire virtualization and cloud ecosystem as they've built ways for IT Pros, software and hardware vendors, trainers and integrators to come together in one location.
I recently caught up with David (CEO) and Doug (CTO) to ask them a few questions about their new start up:
VMblog: One of the things you guys have been saying is that with PaperShare "information is now social" - what exactly do you mean by that?
Doug: Our goal with PaperShare was to create a place where people could find content about the subjects they are interested in and, if they liked it, make it easy to share with other people in the community and have a conversation about it.
David: In a way, what we've created is the reverse of the social networking model. Instead of people coming to the site because they went to school or work together, they come because they have the same interest. They can find the content they want and then meet people and companies who are interested in the same topic.
Doug: What it means is that when a paper is downloaded, it's no longer just one person reading it but rather a ripple effect takes place where one person's read leads to 5-10 people reading it, which creates another wave of readers, and so on, and so on.
VMblog: So I have to ask, where did this idea come from?
Doug: At DABCC.com, I've had millions of people coming to the site to get all kinds of information about virtualization. But while they were consuming information, they couldn't interact with each other. I know this community and it loves to get together. Just look at the events we all go to - VMworld, Microsoft Management Summit, Synergy - people go there for the latest information, but they also go to meet with each other to talk about what they've learned. I came up with PaperShare to enable people to have these types of interactions on line.
David: It's the reason I joined the company. At both Softricity and Microsoft we were always looking for ways to increase our engagement with the community. The moment I saw PaperShare I knew that this was exactly what the industry needs. There are all kinds of ways for people to find like-minded individuals, including a feature where companies can list employees who other members of the PaperShare community can reach out to. It's a way to cut through the marketing and get right to the people who know and care about the technology.
VMblog: Sounds great. Explain to everyone who it is that can use PaperShare?
Doug: PaperShare is free for end users. They can read and store as many papers as they want, and can upload a certain number of papers for non-commercial use. They can also create public groups where they can post papers around a certain topic and have a threaded conversation with other users. We'll also be rolling out a premium user model where people can upload more papers and create private groups.
David: For companies (software and hardware vendors, integrators and trainers) there is a yearly subscription that allows them to have a detailed presence on the site, the ability to upload an unlimited number of documents, and the ability to create both public and private groups. The companies who have signed up have found a lot of value in this as it gives them real-time feedback on their content and ideas.
Doug: They also really like the private groups feature as it allows them to create libraries of content for a specific set of people. One company created a private group where they store their sales materials that they just share with their sellers and channel. Integrators are also using this feature to create private groups for each of their customers where they put in a mix of public papers about technologies they've deployed combined with private documents specific to the customers' deployment.
David: Again, it's about making information social - sometimes you want to share with everyone, sometimes you want to share with a small group of people. PaperShare is designed to allow you to do both. And in both cases we've built ways for people to interact around the content with each other.
VMblog: So is it just sharing papers or is there something else?
David: The word Paper in PaperShare is meant to represent all kinds of information, so we'll be supporting all types of digital formats, including PDF, PowerPoints, Word and Excel docs.
Doug: And the word Share in PaperShare is about the social. All those files are supported by a platform that allows you to use the information as the first step towards a much deeper engagement between people in the community.
VMblog: You guys have been through a private beta and have been opening it up to the public for a short while now. What's the response been like so far?
Doug: We were surprised how fast people got into the spirit of sharing papers. We opened the beta version of the site just a few weeks ago and have already seen thousands of papers shared. We've also received great feedback on how to make the site better.
David: And we've signed up many of the key virtualization and cloud computing companies, especially as they see how papersharing leads to more people reading their materials and directly engaging with them.
VMblog: I realize things are just now really getting going, but can you tell us about any of your future plans with PaperShare?
Doug: We'll continue to keep adding features based on feedback. We've got a team of developers that we're building out. We're also hiring social networking experts to help expand the type of interactions people can have on the site.
David: We're also developing an affiliate sales channel for integrators which we'll be rolling out in the next few weeks.
VMblog: Will you guys just remain in the virtualization and cloud space? Or are you currently looking at other computing markets or other verticals?
Doug: Stay tuned...
David: The fun has only just started...
I guess I should have expected that last answer!
If you're at all involved with the virtualization and cloud computing industry, you need to be part of PaperShare. Sign up today at www.papershare.com.
I've been signed up as a member for a short while now and have been enjoying finding all kinds of great content and people - come friend me (David Marshall) over there and I'll share some really cool and interesting papers with you. And I'll be interested to see what papers you share back with me.