The Internet, Take Two: Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

Rising from the pile of dead dot-coms is a set of new companies trying to fix things that are wrong with the Internet. To what extent they will create new problems remains to be seen, but it is interesting to watch them attack the same problems that their predecessors have attacked again and again—problems that have a new urgency now that we have to use the Internet for routine business.

Ive written previously about XDegrees, a startup that is extending the Internets Domain Name System to make mobile devices and even software files addressable as Web services. Kenamea, a startup that was founded in 1999 and whose software is in beta, claims a simpler approach.

Kenamea has a server that communicates with application and Web servers, back-end systems, and a small piece of code on the client. The client can be many things—one investor in the company is Palm. By grabbing and holding onto a Net connection for the duration of a session, Kenamea enables Web apps that are secure, persistent and updatable in both directions—no more reloading Web pages with each change. If you do reconnect, you resume working where you left off.

Blackstone Technology Group, an integrator, used Kenamea to create a marketplace where people negotiate prices in real time in a private trading room. It also created a dashboard application that monitors energy prices in the spot market.

Gartner Group senior analyst Deborah Hess says Kenamea reminds her of Digital Equipments Reliable Transaction Router, which unfortunately worked only on Digital networks. Until recently, Suns answer to Web applications was Java—Marimba, which could have been a Kenamea competitor, fell on that sword. Microsoft has experimented with dynamic HTML (Kenamea is based on HTML, HTTP and JavaScript), and Kenamea CTO Bob Pasker expects competition from IBM.

Kenameas survival will depend on its ability to drive a standard, and Pasker has been down that road before. He co-founded WebLogic, the Java poster child that survived to be acquired by BEA Systems and remains the No. 1 selling Java application server, ahead of both IBM and Sun. Kenamea even has hired Gartner Group, the consulting firm, to help it create the concept of an "application network."

It is a testament to the poor quality of software that Kenamea says it wont ship its software until its ready (this summer). Sources say quality issues helped fell iVenturi, the joint venture of Dow Chemical, Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and incubator Camp Six.

IVenturi was meant to help companies and their partners create new products but, due to lack of funds, Dow cut off financing a few weeks before Camp Six went under. It was just another dot-com, after all. Dow declines to comment.

Deborah Gage is investigative editor of [email protected] Partner. She can be reached at [email protected]