A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:
What: Topia Technology, based in Tacoma.
Who: Janine Terrano, 46, CEO and founder
Mission: To manage data in a more intuitive way, offering a path to exchange large files without having to use e-mail.
How it works: Earlier this year, the company introduced Skoot, which creates similarly named folders on multiple users’ desktops. When one user moves a file into the folder, it automatically appears on the connected machine. While it resides in a buffer for a short time, the transfer is almost immediate.
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Financials: The company had more than $5 million in revenue during 2006, almost exclusively from sales in the government sector. Skoot is its first consumer product, with a goal of making it an essential personal utility. Terrano said she expected the average consumer bill to run between $10 and $15 a month.
Single file: The company has created a special version of Skoot provided free to members of the armed services. Here, the software and the data are installed on a 512 MB flash drive, which sends and receives files automatically whenever it is inserted into an Internet-connected machine. That allows soldiers to walk into any USO and connect with their families. They can also view the files at a later time. This gets around military rules forbidding posting on public bulletin boards, and creates a level of security for the data transfer.
Trickle down: Terrano said the average user can benefit from the convenience of the armed-services product. So the company is offering the option of downloading the software onto a flash drive and using Skoot as a portable product.
Battle plan: Terrano thinks the communications aspect of e-mail will be replaced by instant messaging, with Skoot potentially a default platform for transferring large files. “The widespread adoption of digital cameras has generated rich multimedia files, along with music and video,” she said. “So everyone from a large law firm to a family of three now has the ability to create and share files that are larger in size and richer in content than anything you can send through e-mail.”
— Charles Bermant