Masterton firm claims 'internet OS'

It's being developed in Masterton, has the financial backing of Jenny Morel's Morel & Co venture capital firm, has a boss in Hamilton and SolNet's Murray McNae thinks it can take on the world.

It’s being developed in Masterton, has the financial backing of Jenny Morel’s Morel & Co venture capital firm, has a boss in Hamilton and SolNet’s Murray McNae thinks it can take on the world.

The company is SiliconBlue, headed for now, by dairy farmer Laurie Weake. But having secured capital for development of the company's product, Ocoloco, described by Weake as “an operating system for the internet”, he's ready to step aside.

“We’ve got a fantastic product, a great team and now we’re going to take it on to the international stage,” says Weake.

But an operating system for the internet? How does that work?

"An operating system basically provides a software layer between what you want to do, the applications, and the hardware, about which you probably have very little to do," says co-founder Mike Bennett.

"Ocoloco offers a similar platform - a generic interface that deals with the nuts and bolts of the internet." Bennett says third-party developers can build on top of Ocoloco and, for example, make use of a key element of the system, its accounting platform.

"Built into it as well is an accounting system which is tracking and accumulating data on what everyone is doing through Ocoloco." That means developers can access and use that data for billing purposes or to track usage levels.

"If you just add a feature to a website, an Ocoloco tag, suddenly Ocoloco knows that feature is being used and can track its usage and bill automatically if that's what's wanted.

“Basically it automates the whole process of managing a website. At the moment it’s not too bad if you want to update a page or two but imagine if you were looking after 500 sites or 1000. It would be chaos.”

Ocoloco will manage everything from applying for a domain name to offering secure access, says Weake. The product is aimed at web hosts and developers, rather than end users, and Bennett claims to have "literally hundreds" of customers already signed up. "We get a handful more each day."

Weake doesn't feel he's the person to take Ocoloco out into the wider world. That person will be "someone with the smarts to take this on to the world stage — someone who knows marketing and has a lot more understanding of these things than I do.”

Weake will stay on the board, along with Murray McNae, Wellington-based owner of Sun New Zealand agent SolNet, and Morel. McNae says the Ocoloco product has huge potential with the right person at the helm.

“We hope to be in a position to offer someone the job in the next three weeks.” McNae says SiliconBlue has spoken to a number of candidates from within New Zealand and overseas and is confident of finding the right person for the job.

SiliconBlue started life as an ISP, Contact Internet, based in Masterton and Weake says the development team is and will be based there. "The rents are a lot cheaper there and we’re connected right into Clear’s network so we’ve got as much bandwidth as we need,” says Weake.

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