Building your own Web with Tubes

August 20, 2007

Maybe the Internet is a series of tubes after all. Ted Stevens, the octogenarian Republican Senator from Alaska, became the subject of many jokes
after he made the following comments about the Internet during a speech
on the Senate floor in June 2006. “The Internet is not something that
you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of

But now, there is a company that offers an easy-to-use file sharing
service called Tubes. An upgrade of the service launched Friday. Steve
Chazin, the vice president of marketing for Adesso Systems, the
privately held software company, said he hopes that the application was
not named in honor of Stevens’ gaffe but as a reference to the old
pneumatic tubes used in banks to deliver documents.

So what is Tubes? Chazin said that Tubes
lets people create Web sites, or TubeSites, where they can share and
store media files. All that needs to be done after downloading the
software is for people to drag and drop files into the application,
known as a tube. The software is free for 1 GB of storage and after
that premium versions cost about $5.95 a month for 5 GB, $10.95 for 10
GB and $20.95 for 20 GB.

What’s most interesting about Tubes is that it is so easy to use.
There is no need to figure out any clunky HTML. The whole system is
based on dragging and dropping files and then publishing once files are
in the tube. Tubes replicates files from a user’s desktop.

Chazin said he thinks Tubes is a compliment to online video sites
and social networks like Google’s (GOOG) YouTube, News Corp.
(NWS)-owned MySpace and Facebook.

But in some respects, Tube is also competition since the company also unveiled Friday something called The Hub,
a destination site that lets people browse through other people’s
Tubes. The software is also set up so that people can let other users
edit and contribute to their sites and that anytime a new file is added
to someone’s tube, the file then gets replicated on the desktops of all
the other users as well.

It’s cool stuff. And Tubes has already received raves from DiggNation, Slashdot and PC Magazine. So how big could Tubes get?

Well, it has some impressive financial backing so funding should not
be a problem. Chazin said a big chunk of the company is owned by the
influential private-equity firm The Carlyle Group.
What’s more, Tubes is operating in the white-hot area of social
networking so future funding should not be a problem. In fact, Chazin
said the company is currently on a roadshow looking for more financing.

The big question, of course, is how Tubes will make money. Chazin
said Tubes, not surprisingly, plans to eventually generate money from
online advertising in addition to fees from its premium services.

Time will tell if Tubes can become a big player in file sharing, or
if like poor Ted Stevens, something that gets relentlessly mocked by
the Web cognoscenti. But based on the demo of the service that I saw,
as well as the fact that it has a prominent investor, I think Tubes
will be a service worth keeping an eye on.

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