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Rinen Keeps Things Pure at TechCrunch50

SAN FRANCISCO -- When Netscape co-founder and chief technology officer Marc Andreessen tells a new entrepreneur how to monetize his idea, you think he would listen.

Not the staff of Rinen, a Japanese startup that has created OpenTrace, an application which dynamically calculates the effects people and products have on the environment. After the Rinen staff made their presentation yesterday afternoon before Benioff and other industry luminaries at TechCrunch50, being held at being held at the San Francisco Design Center Concourse Sept. 8-10, they received an ovation from the audience and strong praise from the judges.

"This is a brilliant idea, you see it and go 'Aha!'" Andreessen, now co-founder and chairman of social network platform company Ning, said. Monetization would be a problem, however, because "I have lots of questions about how to get the cycle of adoption going, how to get the data in, how to get to trust the data, how will manufacturers be able to use this to market their product," he added.

"We are thinking about this in two stages," a Rinen presenter replied. "How to monetize is the second stage; the first one, which is how to get more and more information about products, is more important for us. We are concentrating on this."

OpenTrace will have an all-encompassing knowledge base "like Wikipedia," which Rinen's staff are populating with information about the ingredients used in every product made and details about how those products are transported, Rinen's presenter said. This creates a view of the entire supply chain for the product, from the production of the raw material to the shipping, and the impact on the environment every step of the way.

Producers who enter information about their products, both ingredients and transportation details, into its database, will receive an environmental rating they can print on their labels. This will "put pressure on the bad producers and reward good producers," Rinen's staff said.

The other three products presented at the panel also won praise from the panel of judges, who consisted of Andreessen, Salesforce.com (NASDAQ: CRM) chairman and CEO Marc Benioff, Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) audience products division head Ash Patel, CNET Editor-in-Chief Dan Farber and Israeli entrepreneur Yossi Vardi, the original investor in ICQ, the first Internetwide instant-messaging system.

One was FairSoftware, which lets companies start and grow a virtual online business by creating virtual shares, which represent decision-making and revenue-sharing rights.

People are hired with shares, not money, and there is no need to deal with the paperwork that would be involved with setting up a corporation the traditional way. FairSoftware is powered by the 'Software Bill of Rights,' which the company said is sound and legally binding.

Another product, Yammer, is a spin-off from a startup called Genie. "We wanted something like an enterprise version of Twitter, but couldn't find anything out there, so we built our own," CEO David Sacks said.

In addition to serving as Twitter on steroids, Yammer can be used as a company directory and a company network and knowledge base. It is being launched with a desktop application based on Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE) AIR, and with iPhone, BlackBerry, and SMS applications. The basic version is free. Yammer uses "security features learned from Salesforce.com such as an IP [Internet protocol] range limiter, which limits access to your company," Sacks said.

Adobe AIR is a runtime that lets developers use Web technologies such as Ajax, Adobe Flex and Adobe Flash to build rich Internet applications that work across operating systems.

The third product, Blueprint, comes from Connective Logic. It is a software development application hosted in Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Visual Studio that lets software developers design, code, generate and deploy complex multicore software applications without their having to be experts in creating multithreaded software.

Blueprint.com automatically pulls in additional processing power from other cores in a CPU or from clusters if given access by an administrator. "At no point in writing a Blueprint application do you have to worry about questions like 'Where is the data? What is the network available?' and so on," Connective Logic chief executive officer (CEO) Stuart Smith told the audience. "All these things are handled automatically by the Blueprint runtime itself."