MeetU’s Virtual Office is Open for Business

MeetU’s Open Server Technology (MOST) aims to make virtual meetings an everyday business occurrence, the company said Tuesday.

“We are aiming at businesses, mostly in the B2B sectors, where the sales process involves lots of meetings and document exchange,” said MeetU co-founder and president Oscar Glottmann.

MeetU’s platform, which will start shipping shortly, is available as an ASP-hosted service or can be hosted by a client company and branded with its logo. Each user creates a virtual office. The arrival of visitors to the office is detected, and they can see if the office’s owner is available to hold a meeting.

The meeting, which requires a one-time download of several MeetU plug-ins, opens up a client application. The participants, who may be teleconferencing while they meet virtually or communicating via the instant messaging feature, can view and edit the same presentation or document in real time, importing their own content from other applications. Any content that is shared can be encrypted.

The presenter can walk participants through a website or share an application from his or her own computer, such as demonstration software or Microsoft Excel, regardless of whether the participants have that particular software. Future releases will incorporate voice over IP and video streaming.

WebEx is one of MeetU’s major competitors in this space. Rather than being threatened by the company, which has a four-year head start, Glottmann, who established MeetU together with Israel Drori in 1999, credits WebEx with defining the market more clearly, as “enhanced business communications” rather than simply “collaboration.”

Glottmann says that MeetU has several advantages, being primarily designed for ad hoc rather than scheduled meetings and enabling the sharing of many documents simultaneously. MeetU also provides each registered user with his or her own MeetU URL, avoiding the need to go through the MeetU web site to log onto the virtual office.

“We have spent a lot of effort making it fast and simple to use,” he said. “The aim is spontaneous communication.”

While an individual can create a virtual office without charge, MeetU does have a more revenue-focused business model, charging a setup fee and then a monthly per-office license fee to companies that wish to brand their own office. Partner sites who are using MeetU’s platform include Zefer, an internet consulting firm, Selling Power, a magazine for sales professionals and e-Wood, an online marketplace for the wood products industry.

MeetU has 30 employees in offices in Yokneam, Israel, and Waltham, Mass. Investors include Concord Ventures, but Glottmann declined to reveal how much funding the company has received to date.

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