Latest Zaplet News
Aug 2, 2018
This article is more than 10 years old. Zaplet Lotus Development Baratz is sure going to try hard. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology-educated engineer made a name for himself at Sun Microsystems from 1996 to 1999 as head cheerleader for the Java programming language and public enemy number one of Microsoft . Count on hearing lots more from Baratz, this time promoting his software startup. The Redwood Shores, Calif., company is flush with venture capital, having received an eye-popping $90 million this week from Integral Capital Partners of Menlo Park, Calif., QuestMark Partners of Baltimore, and other investors. What exactly is Zaplet? It's a 190-employee company, formerly known as FireDrop, with technology that uses e-mail as a platform for interactive applications like scheduling group meetings, conducting polls and other group-oriented activities. When the company launched in March, it targeted consumers. Now the company is trying to sell corporations on the value of adding interactive features to otherwise dry sales forecasts, job applications, logistical planning and order tracking. Take job recruiting, for example. A human resources manager can attach a resume to a Zaplet message, which can then be e-mailed to others involved in the hiring process. The message would include a screen to schedule an interview, another spot to enter comments for all recipients to review, and so on. "We were blown away with the technology. We saw it had the potential to revolutionize the largest application--e-mail," says Ben Schapiro, partner at QuestMark, which invested $9 million in Zaplet. Baratz expects to sell Zaplet, starting early next year, as shrink-wrapped software or as a hosted service to big companies. The company counts the Republican National Committee, USAToday.com among its users. To make Zaplet work, however, Baratz has to convince some really big companies to buy into the vision, by no means an easy task. Baratz has some fierce competition with IBM subsidiary Lotus and its flagship software, Notes. "Collaboration has been our kingdom," says Paul LaBelle, spokesman for Lotus. "We've been the leader in groupware, messaging and collaboration for the last 11 years since Lotus Notes was launched." In fact, Lotus boasts some 60 million users worldwide, and the company has been adding interactive functions to its software such as conferencing, instant messaging and other applications. One logical path is to get Microsoft and Sun to customize and market the technology, says Tom Dwyer, an analyst with Boston-based Aberdeen Group. "Lotus will have to build their own unless [Zaplet's] patent will convince them to do a deal much like Microsoft licensed Java initially to make it part of the Web browser," he says. That puts Baratz in the position of seeking Microsoft's partnership as a developer. Insiders might remember the bitter war of words between Sun and Microsoft over Java and particularly of Baratz, who in a large industry conference strongly hinted that Windows software was responsible for the "anarchy" that reigns in American business. Bet he wishes he could zap that rhetoric away.