Google acquires wiki company JotSpot; Kraus vindicated

jotspotlogo.bmpFilling out its portfolio of online office applications, Google has acquired wiki company JotSpot for an undisclosed amount.

Co-founder Joe Kraus (pictured here) says he “couldn’t be more excited,” and we can understand, given his rocky ride several years ago at search engine Excite.

joekraus.bmpKraus had been badly burned, and we could sense in Joe an intense, but quiet determination while building Jot that he was going to do this one right.

Way back in 1993, Kraus was 23 and a senior at Stanford, when he and five others co-founded Excite. Excite went public and was valued at $183 million in 1996, and was acquired AtHome in 1999 for $6.5 billion in stock. Pretty giddy times.

But then things went poof. ExciteAtHome imploded when the Bubble burst, after some major strategic and management blunders, let alone the market problems — many of them out of Kraus’ control. It shut down, and its assets sold for $10 million.

We don’t know how much Jot was sold for, and it’s probably not for much, but was almost assuredly for a profit — otherwise Kraus wouldn’t have sold. Kraus had raised more than $5 million from Redpoint and Mayfield.

It is also a victory because Jot was founded in late 2003, after other wiki companies like Socialtext. Socialtext is struggling.

We’d tried various wiki software programs, and ended up selecting Jot for our internal project to launch VentureBeat this year — and even paid for it — mainly because its user interface is intuitive and friendly.

From Joe’s blog:

Three years ago my friend Graham Spencer and I set out to start a new company….. We brainstormed scores of ideas, debated late into the night and ultimately exchanged a mountain of email and documents. We realized we needed a tool to help us organize our thoughts or we’d quickly become overwhelmed. So Graham set up a wiki. I was hooked because it immediately changed the way we worked together. Everything was kept in one place, not locked in email threads or on different computers. We could both make changes to the same document, without having to know HTML (well, without me having to know HTML). After twenty minutes of using a wiki, I was convinced that they were like the Internet in 1993 — useful, but trapped in the land of the nerds (which both Graham and I proudly inhabit). So we set out to start JotSpot as a way to bring the power of wikis to a much broader audience.