Avvenu snags funding for new file-sharing idea

Updated

avvenu2.jpgAvvenu, another one of those Palo Alto start-ups that is offering a new and notable Internet service, has snagged $7.5 million in a second round of funding.

Avvenu offers users a different kind of file-sharing. Here’s a snippet from the Merc’s recent story about the company. The idea is interesting, but we’re not sure whether this is the basis for a company, or just a cool feature:

Here’s the beauty: You’re not actually uploading those files the way you would if you sent them over an e-mail — a sometimes tedious and clunky process. Instead, you’re sending a unique Internet address in the form of a link in an e-mail. The recipient clicks on the link and goes to a file management screen that allows him or her to view only the specific files — nothing more — without having to deal with download times. If the recipient wants to save the file, then a download option is available.

”I’m not sending you the content,” said David Trescot, vice president of marketing for Avvenu (pronounced Avenue). ”I’m sharing access to the content. It’s my content. And I can turn off the access whenever I want.”

Full story is pasted in extended entry below. The round was co-led by Charles River and WorldView, with participation from Motorola’s venture arm and Silicon Valley Bank. Here’s a story about the funding at VentureWire (registration required).

NEW WAY TO SHARE FILES
AVVENU PLANS RELEASE OF SOFTWARE THAT LETS USERS SEND NET ADRESS INSTEAD OF ENTIRE FILE FOR FASTER VIEWING

Published: Monday, June 6, 2005 Edition: Morning Final Section: Tech Monday Page: 3E
Memo: IDEAS & INNOVATIONS: MOBILE COMPUTING

Illustration: Photos (2)

Source: BY SAM DIAZ, Mercury News

The technology stars are finally starting to line up for a Palo Alto start-up named Avvenu.
Screens on mobile phones are looking better than ever. Data networks for those phones are getting faster and faster. And WiFi-equipped laptops and PDAs mean the Internet is only as far away as the nearest Starbucks.

And given our obsession with sharing digital photos and carrying digital music with us, it was only a matter of time until someone came up with an easier way of keeping our precious files close to us.

That’s where Avvenu comes in, offering a unique way of accessing and sharing the assorted files housed on your desktop PCs at home or at the office. The service is initially free.

Avvenu makes a small piece of software that sits on your Windows XP computer and creates access settings for the specific folders and files you want to share with friends, family members or co-workers over the Internet.

Here’s the beauty: You’re not actually uploading those files the way you would if you sent them over an e-mail — a sometimes tedious and clunky process. Instead, you’re sending a unique Internet address in the form of a link in an e-mail. The recipient clicks on the link and goes to a file management screen that allows him or her to view only the specific files — nothing more — without having to deal with download times. If the recipient wants to save the file, then a download option is available.

”I’m not sending you the content,” said David Trescot, vice president of marketing for Avvenu (pronounced Avenue). ”I’m sharing access to the content. It’s my content. And I can turn off the access whenever I want.”

The service will launch from its beta testing period at the end of this month, with free service until the end of the year. Users who sign up during the beta period will receive one full year for free.

After that, there’s likely to be a subscription price — though that hasn’t been determined yet.

For now, the system only allows users to share access to their Windows XP computers — but an offering for Linux and Apple Computer’s Macintosh machines is in the works. On the receiving end, you don’t need an Avvenu membership and it doesn’t matter how you connect to the Internet or what device you use to access the files — a Web-enabled cell phone, a WiFi-connected PDA, a Mac or, of course, a laptop computer.

The mobile phone element makes the service all that more interesting because, in theory, it allows you to bring your entire music collection or photo album to a device that you’re already carrying.

But Ken Delaney, a technology analyst with Gartner, warned that Avvenu probably isn’t as easy — or cheap — as it sounds.

Connecting to the Internet on a phone to view or download files requires the use of data minutes — which is a different pool of minutes than those used for voice communications. Trying to view a photo album or listen to a music collection can be expensive.

”You’re going to end up paying a carrier a fair amount of money,” Delaney said. ”Is that really what you want to do to get music?”

In addition, data network connections are still maturing. They’re still too slow to handle complex applications and still are subject to dead zones in the coverage areas. ”We’re going to get better, but the coverage is still not excellent,” he said.

The Avvenu idea — allowing users access to your files — sounds a lot like the peer-to-peer file sharing that got Napster into trouble in its early days. But Trescot notes important differences — Avvenu allows you to share with people you choose to share with, not an entire world of people connected to the Web.

”It’s no different than sharing files by sending them in an e-mail,” he said.

Avvenu also resembles the GoToMyPC service from Citrix Online, which allowsother users to access and take control of all files on your PC. But recipients of the Avvenu links are not allowed to ”control” the original files.

”We’re not opening ports or changing anything on the firewall,” Trescot said. ”This isn’t putting the network at any more risk than e-mail or Web surfing does.”

For now, the company is making a big push into the consumer market by showcasing the photo-sharing capabilities. The service also includes optimization technology, which adjusts the photos so they look their best over the browser window — whether it’s on a phone, PDA, a laptop or Mac computer.

Avvenu is offering the service to the public but it’s also looking into partnerships with companies that would be interested in branding it as their own. Already, the start-up, formed last year, is teaming with Motorola to put Avvenu on its next line of phones.

It also hopes to line up cell phone carriers, which would add the service as a premium feature.

”It’s a very scalable solution and its very efficient,” Trescot said.

WHAT’S NEW

(box) Avvenu is launching a service that lets users give access to specific files or folders on their PC to other people.

(box) Recipients can view or download those files — documents, photos, music or others — from any Web browser, including Mac computers, mobile phones or PDAs.

(box) The service, which is in the experimental beta phase through the end of the month, will be free through the end of the year. Users who sign up during the beta period will get one full year of free service.

(box) For more information: www.avvenu.com

Caption: PHOTO: JUDITH CALSON — MERCURY NEWS
David Trescot, vice president of marketing at Avvenu in Palo Alto, demonstrates its service giving users secure remote access to their photos and files from Internet-connected devices such as computers or mobile phones.
PHOTO: [Device and computer screen]