Monday, August 23, 2004
Interview with Mike Jones, CEO of Userplane
My interview today is with Mike Jones, CEO of Userplane. Userplane develops Flash-based components for enhancing web sites, and has recently upgraded its Userplane Communications Suite, which the company has been targeting at social networking sites.
BK: What is the Userplane Communications Suite?
MJ: The Userplane Apps Community Suite consists of three Apps that support live text and audio/video communication on any website. The Suite includes Userplane Instant Communicator, Userplane Web Recorder, and Userplane Web Chat. Each App adds core, must-have features to thriving community websites. Instant Communicator provides live text and audio/video instant messaging, Web Recorder enables users to record and share audio/video messages, and Web Chat delivers full-featured, multi-room chatting.
Deployed internationally on sites ranging from online communities to intranets, the Userplane Apps Community Suite reaches tens of millions of users and supports over 3 million live conversations a month in 12 countries. Userplane Apps dramatically increase online interaction and improve guest-to-member conversion.
BK: How is Userplane connected into the social-networking/business-networking scene?
MJ: Userplane is connected to the online version of social- and business-networking. On the Web the networking scene is composed of environments (websites) where inhabiting members encounter one another and communicate. How well people are able to do this depends on the tools and technologies networking websites have implemented. Userplane’s specialized tools integrate rapidly and seamlessly into existing sites and significantly enrich communication between members. These communities have existed in different forms for a long time but lightweight, low-bandwidth technologies like Userplane’s Flash-based Apps have really breathed life into them. Live audio and video deliver a qualitatively different and enhanced experience for all involved.
BK: Who are your customers, and how are they using your products?
MJ: Userplane’s customers are both websites that deploy our Apps to enhance their site’s experience and the site’s customers that in turn interact with each other through our Apps. The Userplane Apps Community Suite is exposed to at least ten million users in 12 countries. The most exciting thing about Userplane Apps is that they are creatively deployed into so many different sites with such diverse markets and goals. We think of the Apps as “micro-experiences” - every website defines its overall (user) experience and environment, but once inside, people use the Apps to communicate with and experience each other more deeply and naturally.
BK: Why did you decide to use Flash technology?
MJ: The goal of Userplane Apps is to provide users with a rich, consistent, and seamless experience on the Web. Right now Flash is by far the best development environment and platform to satisfy this goal.
BK: How is Userplane funded, and what stage is the company at?
MJ: Userplane is privately funded and owned by its three partners Michael Jones, Nate Thelen, and Javier Hall. The company was founded in 2000 and is profitable.