Many people like social networking, but hate the idea that it is not completely under their control, especially when it comes to how their information is handled. A new free service soon on the market will give you social networking, but on your terms.

Goodbye NewsGator, Hello Sepia Labs

There have been some big changes at NewsGator (news, site). No, Social Sites for SharePoint is not going away. Instead, enterprise collaboration has now become NewsGator's primary focus.

The company has sold off much of its consumer products:

  • Push.Io acquired NewsGator's mobile application framework TapLynx
  • BlackPixel acquired NewsGator's NetNewsWire

and now has spun off a new company called Sepia Labs where you will see the likes of Brent Simmons (creator of TapLynx and NetNewsWire) and Nick Bradburry (creator of FeedDemon).

The purpose of Sepia Labs is to take on a new space, something no one else has tried to do yet, although it's really only a matter of time. The first initiative on the books? A private group service called Glassboard.

glassboard logo2.png

 A New Way to be Social

Glassboard is a completely private group service. And when we say private we mean it. You have to be invited by someone in the group to become a part of it. You can't search for groups or discover them any other way. The groups purpose is to allow people to gather and share in a completely secure location. Some of the functionality will look familiar:

  • Messages -- like a group messaging app
  • Photo and video sharing
  • Attach your location to your message (optional)

Walker Fenton, VP Mobile & Data, who runs the consumer end of NewsGator's business and now is involved with Sepia Labs told us that Glassboard "let's you know who you are sharing with".

Even more interesting -- it's a mobile solution. Starting out, Glassboard will be mobile first for the iOS and Android.

Privacy is Important to Everyone

Sepia Labs is being run by the former consumer group at NewsGator, but that doesn't mean Glassboard is a purely consumer app. When you think about it, it is applicable across both the consumer and enterprise space -- everyone is looking for private group capabilities. And this is recognized by Fenton and J.B Holston, CEO of NewsGator, whom we spoke with about the new service.

Holston told us that this was a great opportunity and NewsGator felt the best way to approach it was to create a separate entity. Of course, he also said there will be ties to both Social Sites and Office365 at some point (the enterprise connection), but the service was distinct from NewsGator's core business and they wanted to let it fly on its own.

And NewsGator Carries On

NewsGator will continue its focus on enterprise collaboration, including the continual enhancement of its flagship solution Social Sites for SharePoint. They have been working on augmenting SharePoint with stronger social and collaborative capabilities.

They are also putting a lot of their focus on Office365 and how Social Sites will work there. So it will be interesting to see how that works out, especially with Office365 now on a release path of June 2011.

Glassboard is being announced today at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference. It will be interesting to hear how it's received. What about you? Is this a service you could see using?