Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Groovy: Real-Time Data Could Aid Media Companies

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 22, 2009

I had a fascinating conversation on Saturday with Joe Ward, CEO of Groovy, which has a unique real-time transactional data technology.

He was complaining that the term "real-time" is being applied too broadly by many companies to describe their services and technologies.

"There are a lot of 'real-time' announcements that have been made that are dependent on refresh to update their data -- that's not real-time, and it's not a scalable architecture."

One example is Salesforce's recently introduced Chatter service. While Mr Ward likes Salesforce's overall strategy, he says Chatter is not real-time because it relies on refresh. And this could become a problem for Salesforce because that makes it difficult to scale.

Groovy's technology is sometimes described as a database but it's nothing like a traditional database. It's a set of technologies for handling transactional data.

"I prefer to call our solution an 'interactive broadcast data cloud' than a database," says Mr Ward.

The technology was originally part of a $50m Australian venture called Bullant. Groovy acquired the technology and patents in 2006 and CEO Joe Ward moved himself and his family to Silicon Valley early this year from Sydney.

Companies can buy Groovy as a "cloud in a box" and run it internally, or as a software service. Groovy could also be used as the platform for a host of cloud based applications, all available as services.

Mr Ward makes a good case for true real-time systems becoming the "final frontier" for applications and services and triggering a new wave of innovation.

Media apps?

Mr Ward says that media companies could offer real-time information streams combined with their stories.

This is a good idea because it would be like having a real-time Bloomberg terminal data feed integrated into a media company's publishing stream. That's a powerful combination of services and a good way to keep Bloomberg at bay.

Bloomberg has shown it has ambitions beyond the terminal. Its recent acquisition of BusinessWeek is part of plans to expand its readership beyond the trading floors. To compete with Bloomberg, other media companies will also need real-time data capabilities.

This will allow them to operate real-time news and data streams, and integrate advertising and other monetization streams. And as Google and others direct traffic to their sites, they'll be better able to better monetize that traffic through real-time matching of targeted advertising.

Also, there's lots of money in real-time data. The New York Times reports that Bloomberg has been "deploying the cash spouting from its data business" to finance its expansion. Media companies could potentially add an important new revenue stream.


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