Just a few weeks after removing its chief executive, a company called Etelos is shifting its business by launching the Etelos Platform Suite. Like many other companies, it wants to move applications into the Internet cloud, but it’s rather unique by offering to redistribute traditional software under the software-as-a-service (i.e., online subscription) business model without requiring developers to write new code.
There are four components to Etelos’ new services: the SaaS Application Platform (for distributing traditional, “shrink-wrapped” software under the SaaS model), the SaaS Market Platform (which helps companies create their own version of Salesforce.com‘s AppExchange — a place to sell apps that extend your core product), the SaaS Distribution Platform and the SaaS Syndication Platform.
Etelos is doing something a bit different from most of the big players in this market, like Amazon, Google and Salesforce.com, which all focus on hosting, and in some cases on providing an environment to develop your app. The Renton, Wash.-based company can tap into a new audience of developers who are interested in SaaS, but don’t want to rewrite existing apps.
Previously, Etelos’ offerings included a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that you could use on your Google homepage, as well as a marketplace to sell your apps, which included the ability to give your web apps offline capabilities. But it looks like the old business model wasn’t working. Now, Etelos founder Danny Kolke, who had been serving as chief technology officer, has taken control as CEO (on the phone, Kolke described himself as “founder and CEO … again.”) and he plans to refocus on what makes Etelos valuable.
The Google widget, in particular, was hard to monetize. Instead, he says the infrastructure that Etelos built to distribute the CRM tool, and around its marketplace, are actually more useful.
“It’s hard to make it a viable product if it’s three inches wide and four inches tall,” Kolke says.
The company did a reverse merger with public company Tripath Technologies in April, with the whole entity renamed as Etelos. Shares hit a high of $14 in July, and (like many other companies) have been falling steadily since — they’re currently trading for 22 cents per share.