GROOVE IN THE NEWS
iQ Magazine, Cisco Systems' online business publication, recently
named Groove Networks founder and CEO Ray Ozzie one of nine
executives "Leading the Way" in the Internet Economy. Their
profiles make for fascinating reading. Check them out at
Ray Ozzie Leaders in the Internet Economy By Samuel Greengard
Photograph by Eric Ogden
Title // Chief Executive Officer
Company // Groove Networks
Panelist’s View // “Ray Ozzie is nominated for his vision and his role in the long-term development of the Internet economy.”—Soon-Yong Choi and Andrew B. Whinston, CREC
If the Internet has proven one thing, it’s that collaboration and knowledge-sharing are keys to business success. Yet, before workers routinely zapped e-mails around the world and tapped into information via company networks and Web sites, there was Lotus Notes, a workgroup application that connected the enterprise in new and innovative ways. That was 1989. And its inventor, Ray Ozzie, knew he was onto something big.
“People want and need to communicate with one another and explore how we can effectively work or socialize with one another across time and space,” he says.
Now Ozzie is at it again. More than a decade later, he has embarked on his next big idea: further transforming the Internet communication dynamic through peer-to-peer networking. By connecting people instead of content, Ozzie is working to usher in a new era of computing and raise the stakes for collaboration and interpersonal communication.
“His thinking is both socially and technically lucid,” says Esther Dyson, industry luminary and chairman of EDventure Holdings, a global information services company. “In a fundamental way, he understands the issues we’re now facing both socially and technically. How do you build organizations from the bottom up? How do you deal with the technical problems of collaboration—reconciliation and control of different versions, extended-transaction integrity, trust and security, and the like?”
Enter Groove. Released in October 2000, Groove ties together instant messaging, voice chat, text chat, threaded discussions, file sharing, picture sharing, Web cobrowsing, calendaring, drawing, and more—in a tight workspace using peer-to-peer connectivity. Essentially, Groove allows individuals to collaborate on a broad range of activities within secure, shared virtual spaces, in real time, or in different places at different times. “Today’s increasingly decentralized business environment must be supported by inherently decentralized collaboration technology,” says Ozzie.
The idea for Groove came to Ozzie while watching his daughter do homework on her PC and his son play Quake, a computer game in which players can compete across the Internet. He began pondering why businesses weren’t using computing power more effectively. Ozzie’s focus has always been on adapting computers to people instead of the other way around.
“The same qualities of leadership that helped form great companies in the past century will be required in this century as well,” says Ozzie. “I believe an important quality is the ability to create a vision of what’s possible and then to communicate that vision in such a way that others become as passionate as you about making that vision a reality.”
He founded Iris Associates, where he created the Lotus Notes product, pioneering the idea of groupware, in 1984. (Lotus Development purchased Iris in 1994.) In many ways, Notes redefined computing. It allowed people to share documents and work in geographically dispersed locations in a network-based communications environment. Before Notes, networks were mostly for sharing files and printing them across an enterprise. Notes created a more robust computing environment than anyone would have imagined possible only a few years earlier.
“Ray Ozzie possesses a unique combination of social and technical vision,” says David S. Marshak, senior vice president and principal consultant at e-business consulting firm Patricia Seybold Group. “For the past 15-plus years he has understood—and more importantly brought to fruition—new technologies that significantly enhance the way people work and interact.”