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RealNames CEO Talks Back 207

jasoncart writes: "Keith Teare, former CEO of RealNames, has updated his homepage with his opinions regarding his the companies downfall. Obviously he's annoyed as he has lost his job, but he makes some good points about Microsoft's monopoly - 'Microsoft seems to be playing the role of the referee who decides whether any innovations succeed'"
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RealNames CEO Talks Back

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  • Sour Grapes... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fleeb_fantastique ( 208912 ) <> on Sunday May 12, 2002 @02:53PM (#3506693) Homepage
    This all sounds like sour grapes to me.

    Not that I blame him, and not that he's not completely without merit here, but I don't really think RealNames had a viable product to begin with (as several of the comments last time suggested).

    If anything, I think this company failed to adapt to changes in technologies.
    • A deal is a deal. They couldn't give MS the money they agreed to, so they folded.
    • Geeks who speak English have little reason to need RealNames.

      However, the same can't be said for average computer users whose native language can't be rendered in ASCII (i.e. most of Asia). RealNames made it possible for them to go to websites by typing in words in their native language, instead of words in a character set they may not be familiar with.
      • In that case I have no sympathy. If their product was so much use in Asia then they should have produced a plug-in. I mean it isn't like Asia isn't going to be a huge market or anything is it? ;-)
      • Ok, great.

        But let's assume that RealNames sells the Japanese word for "Cookies" to the Japanese division of Nabisco.

        What does this mean to Fuji Cookies? They can't have the same word linked to their website with this mechanism. Whereas at least with a search engine, while Nabisco might get top placement because they paid more, other companies would also be listed.

        Again, as others have pointed out, what is needed is or something similar... that is all.
      • Go to, and you can choose from among dozens of languages to search in, including 16-bit languages.
    • Re:Sour Grapes... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Darby ( 84953 )
      Sour grapes and lack of due diligence.
      What did he expect would happen?

      After reading his whining, I sent him an email:

      I just finished reading the comments posted on your web page detailing your
      feelings about your previous company's dealings with Microsoft and felt
      compelled to comment.

      It certainly seems likely that Microsoft is guilty of, if not illegal, then
      certainly less than ethical business practices. You seem surprised at this.
      As an officer of a company, it is your responsibility to your employees and
      your investors to investigate any company with which you plan on entering a
      contract. It is clear that you did not do this.

      Look at this quote from your page:
      "The browser is now back under Microsoft's control and it is possible that -
      having learned much from RealNames - it will develop its own version of our
      resolution service."

      Had you bothered to do the most cursory investigation of Microsoft you would
      have found that this is one of their common business practices.
      A few companies who Microsoft have been *convicted* of doing this to in the
      past are:
      Syn'x Relief
      There are several other cases where they have been convicted, and numerous
      others where the developers in question simply could not afford to pursue the
      cases. A simple internet search will reveal this to you, as it would have
      before entering negotiations

      While it is arguably wrong of Microsoft to have done what they did,
      the fault of the failure of your company lies squarely with your failure to
      follow the adminition of any grade school teacher:
      Do your homework.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @02:53PM (#3506699) Homepage
    Now that search engines are fast and cheap, paid keyword systems aren't needed. It's an idea that was overtaken by better technology.

    If search wasn't so cheap that companies compete to give it away, we'd need something like this. But we don't.

    • Now that search engines are fast and cheap, paid keyword systems aren't needed. It's an idea that was overtaken by better technology.

      Maybe, maybe not. Microsoft's motivations for killing RealNames will be revealed when they either create their own version of the technology - validating Teare's statements - or not.

    • Hmmm, I've personally come full circle on searching versus the categorization approach. I think this has mostly to do with the simple fact that categorizing stuff is expensive, and thus needs more revenue to sustain the service.

      And that requirement usually results in more ads to be thrown in. Which means, weeding through more and more inappropriate hits as time goes on. I've wound up once too often on a vendors web site whose product I have already eliminated from my shortlist.

      Thus, the success in attracting advertizer revenue is precisely what does a service in for me.

      Frankly, if Google went subscription I'd buy it to the exclusion of all other search engines, provided my money prevents me from seeing any paid-for links.
    • Better technology? Or more profitability?

      Of course, many moons ago, Google themselves delivered RealNames results [], as did Altavista [] and others.

      But then the paid-for-placement leanings of Overture nee Goto [] became more tempting, and ultimately triumphed. Why make only cents per click, when you can make much more from fools willing to pay more []?

      To say Microsoft killed Realnames is a simplification. MS may have been Realnames's biggest customer, but they were at death's door regardless.

    • by kteare ( 416210 )
      The limits of the Domain Name System are connected to its roots as a naming architecture invented in 1984, with the primary purpose of giving names to networks and to people as endpoints in email services. The network has changed dramatically since then. DNS's main weaknesses include:
      a) DNS is only able to make use of 7 bit ASCII - 26 characters in the English alphabet and the 10 in the numerical system, 0-9, plus the hyphen (37 total characters), in forming a name. 7 bit ASCII cannot handle foreign characters, creating a significant problem for languages with non-Roman scripts.
      b) DNS cannot guarantee quality of service in delivering content. A DNS resolution points a user to a physical resource and is at the mercy of bandwidth constraints and traffic peaks.
      c) DNS is a poor global naming system. A company with multiple sites worldwide has to give each of them different names [; etc].
      d) DNS has no inbuilt reporting capabilities. In fact, reporting on DNS traffic is so complex and essential that an industry has arisen to provide the imperfect reports that are available today.

      URIs and URLs have weaknesses as well:

      a) DNS gave birth to the URI. These long strings - again restricted to ASCII - allow naming of a wider set of resources. The URI can address individual web pages (with URLs), but the URI can also address people's email address - as in - and even their phone number - as in phoneto:16504865555.
      b) The URI is a major breakthrough as a means of addressing an unlimited number and type of resources on the Internet, but it is not a naming system. Rather it is a physical addressing system. Naming systems match a physical resource with an alias. A phone number, for example, is simply a memorable (one hopes!) alias to a physical switch address. A DNS name is an alias to an IP number. Physical addresses that are also forced to play the role of names are a bad idea because an identity is then tied to a physical resource identifier. If the resource moves or changes, the name will break. No persistent naming system for the Web was built, and the URL was adopted as the only available alternative. This is widely accepted to be a huge error.
      c) In addition, the URI is incapable of being human friendly. Home page URLs for well known things barely pass muster as human friendly, intuitive identifiers. is OK, but how could one expect to intuitively understand that the URL for the US Fish and Wildlife Service is
      d) URLs cannot be consistent pointers to all content across all network access devices Wireless URLs and Web URLs point to different versions of content.
      e) The URL, like DNS, cannot use non-ASCII characters, although it can use a wider set of ASCII characters than the DNS. Limitations in DNS and URIs spawned search engines - which compensate for the lack of a manageable, human friendly naming architecture for network resources.

      While they solve a specific and relevant problem, search engines also have weaknesses:
      a) Search Engines can only index "static" web pages on the public network. These are pages with a physical existence on a web server. Today less than 25% of web pages are "static". Search engines cannot provide pointers to protected content. Similarly, search engines cannot provide access to dynamic content that is refreshed frequently, or content that resides in a content management server or searchable database.
      b) Search Engines employ a "full text index" approach to content. Even with algorithms which attempt to elevate one site above another based on relevance rankings, search engines inevitably find it hard to distinguish between a home page for an entity [a company, a product, a famous person] and a reference to that entity by a third party. Search is great for research but of limited value for navigation.
    • It's not the point, if it is innovative, the fact that theirs was a growing business shows, that at least it was a good business idea.

      The point here is, that Microsoft wants to control everything they can, if they can't they'll cancel support. As a result of this Microsoft is not a good business partner to have for startups: if you don't have success, well, then they'll dump you (who wouldn't, no problem there), but if you are successful then it might either be against microsofts interests to follow up on that technology, or, if they think it's worth following up, they'll want to do it themselves. In both cases they'll kick you in the back, because if it is to be done, then it's them who want to do it.
  • Playing the game (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SWroclawski ( 95770 )
    When you play the game of working with powerful monpoloies who are known to destroy companies and to unlawfully use thier influence, you should not be any more surprised about them doing the same to you than you would be if you took a canibal to you to a desert island.

    That's especially true when a well used and Free alternative to your product exists and is in wide use.

    - Serge Wroclawski
  • Whine whine whine (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rufusdufus ( 450462 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @02:56PM (#3506711)
    Their business plan was to make money off Microsoft. They failed to please their primary client and lost their business. Now they are out of business.

    Now they are blaming Microsoft for their own short sightedness.

    Microsoft has no obligation to keep these people in business just for the sake of keeping them in jobs.

    Their weird naming standards didn't make much sense in the first place, with the crash of the .COMs, its just silly.
    • Their business plan was to make money off Microsoft. microsoft will take RealNames idea and making it their own... along with the money....

      every day I get more and more pissed off at the pseudo-government that Microsoft is becoming...

      when will it end?
  • The fuck? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It's all well and good. It makes good reading, but what he basically said was - "Microsoft can do what it wants because they ship operating systems. I can't do what I want because I only ship something that breaks standards to make me bucks with no real consumer returns."

    Somebody needs to call this dude a whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaambulance!

  • bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ( 93565 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @02:58PM (#3506719) Homepage Journal
    calling realnames an "innovation" is a bit of a stretch.

    all realnames had was a database that paired together words with webaddresses. this is not innovation. this is novelty at best. save me the sob story about monopolies and start working on real innovation. had it not been for the monopoly of microsoft, realnames would never have gained any kind of recognition in the first place.

    • This company was obviously the epitome of efficiency, since they only need 79 employees to keep the name server running.
      • So thats what these people were doing.
        It was also necessary as what they where selling, was worthless.

        They betted on fear. That some corporations and organizations would pay for first time dumb internet users who would just enter a word and expect to find exactly what they were looking for, as if everything consisted of monopolies nowadays.
      • Good Riddance (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Andy_R ( 114137 )
        Actually, from my experience with them, most of those 79 staff are employed to ring up people like me and repeatedly try to peddle their dumb idea, no matter how many times I told them where they could stick it.

        I have had exactly the same scripted cold-call telephone conversation with these idiots twice within an hour. Any company that behaves like that deserves to crash and burn imho.
    • disclaimer:
      i've never used aol

      but i've seen alot of commercials where you here soemthing to the effect of:

      for more info go to aol keyword 'goatsex'

      if this is the case, im not sure i really feel sorry for this guy, i think any schmuck could have thought of this.
    • all realnames had was a database that paired together words with webaddresses. this is not innovation. this is novelty at best.

      Which amounts to just another second-level namespace. It's no different, in principle and application, from creating a top-level domain called ".realnames" except that you can't delegate it any further, because RealNames had no concept of hierarchy.

      Oh yeah, with Unicode-style names. That's nice but not very interesting to most of the Western world.


      Is it just me seeing this, or was Keith Teare totally oblivious to the utter uselessness of his "technology" to the Western market?

  • by ostiguy ( 63618 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @03:00PM (#3506726)
    he built a company whose product/service apparently was not internet based (meaning, using standards like dns, etc), and rather, was wholy dependent upon just *one* other vendor's platform/service to such an extreme that users couldn't install it upon that platform/service themselves as it was simply guaranteed to be integrated for a fixed time period. We are supposed to feel bad because his company didn't have a contigency plan? They never thought about writing a plug in that would allow them to operate immediately for other browsers, and possible as a contigency in case of a falling out with MS?

    No one would feel sorry for a hardware vendor that made hardware that would only work for Dells, and then went other because kingston/micron/western digital, etc could do it for less, and Dell went with them when it was time to renegotiate the contract.

    • When I use Internet Explorer (which is not very often), I install Google's GoogleBar on it. This is a little toolbar on the browser where I type in a word and get a google search.

      RealNames could do exactly the same thing, without paying millions of dollars in cash and 20% of their stock to Microsoft.
      • When I use Internet Explorer (which is not very often), I install Google's GoogleBar on it. This is a little toolbar on the browser where I type in a word and get a google search. RealNames could do exactly the same thing, without paying millions of dollars in cash and 20% of their stock to Microsoft.

        Wouldn't work. People install Google's toolbar because it adds some efficiency to their user experience.

        RealNames just made things more confusing and had no coherent value proposition, so nobody had any interest in going out of their way to use it.

        Maybe they could have made a deal with Audiogalaxy or someone to have the RealNames URL Befuckulator surreptitiously installed as a secret browser add-on.

  • Sounds pretty much like what happened to Loki Games.

    Contracts written during the boom which returns to kill the company now. I wonder how many of the dotcoms died because of that kind of deals.

  • by dangermouse ( 2242 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @03:03PM (#3506732) Homepage
    Microsoft is right. The path to better navigability of the web does lie through searching, not through naming. The namespace is inherently very limited and cannot cope in any reasonable manner with the sheer volume of information that is available on the Web. What are needed are indices, and they need to take into account the content of documents, not simply their locations.

    When I want to find RandomCo online, unless they're a seriously huge company I don't just guess at That's not reliable enough. I've also long since ceased to visit directory sites to look up RandomCo. What I do instead is go to Google, type in "RandomCo RandomProduct" and find it immediately. This is infinitely more applicable to documents that are not sponsored by huge corporations, given the corporate dominance and limited range of the DNS hierarchy.

    RealNames didn't even have a shot without Microsoft's dominance of the browser market, so Teare's parting shots at Microsoft (while very accurate) smack of hypocrisy. Dollars to doughnuts RealNames loved the fact that there was a single company to deal with in their bid to propagate their technology.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm sure it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that RealNames couldn't pay their bill. "Uh, yeah. We know we owe you $25 million but we don't have that much money. How 'bout $5 million now and we'll make payments of some kind. No, we're not going to change our business model or anything. Um...No, I don't know how we'll manage to make enough money in this dead economy with the same business plan that failed to generate adequate revenue in the good old days. But if you do things our way, you'll make $200,000,000! I don't know how but it's a really big number."
  • by reparteeist ( 533894 ) <reparteeist&yahoo,com> on Sunday May 12, 2002 @03:05PM (#3506743)
    If he truly believed his product was ground-breaking cutting-edge technology, he should have partnered with other companies as well. Depending on Microsoft as your only partner does not make good business sense. Had he made deals with other vendors, RealNames would have some source of capital to fall back on. But since he suicided by depending on Microsoft, his company is now no more.
  • "'Microsoft seems to be playing the role of the referee who decides whether any innovations succeed"

    Microsoft was the only one willing to use your crappy "product". Then they realized it was crap, and decided to stop using it. It's not even like most stuff where they buy/steal/copy it, they just didn't want it anymore because it was stupid.

    • There's no better indication that your product sucks when slashdot is collectively defending Microsoft for their actions. Congratulations Mr. Teare, it's a cold day in hell right now thanks to you.
  • by tshak ( 173364 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @03:08PM (#3506760) Homepage
    but he makes some good points about Microsoft's monopoly

    No he doesn't. This has nothing to do with MS, and everything to do with a failed/flawed concept. Why does /. have to be so painfully biased? I understand that "it's in italics" so it was the submitter who made this statement, but /. is posting it so therefore they are behind it. This really takes a lot of credit away from your site.
  • by Beatlebum ( 213957 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @03:09PM (#3506764)
    If MSFT decides not to renew their contract with Realnames that's their business. If Realnames had any intellectual property worth a damn someone else would step in. The fact is Google has made Realnames' technology irrelevent. This dude is just pissed because he wasn't able to IPO his shitty company and make bank before the bubble burst.
    • RealNames did not need anyone to make their "technology irrelevent". They did that themselves. It was a poor idea, executed poorly, dependent on a unreliable partner, and should have failed much sooner. The real losers are the people who invested because they thought that having microsoft as a partner spelled success.

  • Lay down with dogs (Score:3, Informative)

    by mangu ( 126918 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @03:09PM (#3506766)
    And wake up with fleas. What he tried to do was out-micorsoft Microsoft at their own game, which is changing internet standards in proprietary ways.
  • jep, typical M$ (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ( 565364 )
    Now, Bill Bliss - who runs MSN Search and was until recently in charge of the RealNames relationship, has in the last few weeks been moved to "Natural Language Platforms" and is charged with developing a variant of our system. The browser is now back under Microsoft's control and it is possible that - having learned much from RealNames - it will develop its own version of our resolution service.

    seems, nomather how bad the company may be, quite unfair to me. And this quite confirm one of my previous postings ( 5128).
  • by r00tarded ( 553054 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @03:10PM (#3506769)
    he could have linked his homepage to the realname "slashdotted."
  • At the end of his discussion, he lists the email addresses of important folks at MSN so that the public could write and ask them to rethink the deal. I don't understand why he would ever want to do this. Did he really like being in business with them? Doesn't seem like it, but he's asking us to help him get them back.

    If I were him, I would just be happy that I didn't have to deal with their tactics anymore.
  • Yeah, it's a real innovation. A system that converts names to IP addresses. No-one's thought of that before.

    It's like DNS being controlled by a single company who charge what they like; there was no reason for the company to succeed. What do they really offer over DNS?

    But hey, let's blame MS for quashing innovation. If Microsoft had set up this scheme, everyone would be outraged that they were trying to take over from the DNS system. Ah, bollocks.

  • I wonder if his business dealings were characterized by the same level of professionalism as this little stunt?

    I particularly like the "I testified on Microsoft's behalf when I stood to make a boatload of money from them, but now that they've cancelled that arrangement, I think they're stifling innovation" bit. Pretty telling, IMHO.

  • 1. Come up with lame idea.
    2. Jump in bed w/ MS
    3. Wam, Bam, Thank you 'Mam
  • will live, die and commit unspeakable acts at his mercy. He will destroy you for his amusement. Teare wasn't the first to learn this lesson and he won't be the last.

    No pity here, I'm afraid.


  • Good point this thing about Microsoft being the referee... Only if they had chosen IETF instead of MS as their partner...
  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @03:18PM (#3506799)
    Not much real sympathy from me. Apparently he only thinks M$ is a greedy monopolist now that he himself has been screwed. Doesn't seem to have complained when M$ was raping Netscape, Staq, Novell, ... I guess as long as he was getting along with the wolf, getting a few crumbs that fell off the table, no complaints.

    Nope, not much sympathy from me.

    A friend's idea for a startup 5 years ago never got off the ground because at least two vulture capitalists refused to fund, on the grounds that if it became sucessful, M$ would jump in, make an offer we would be literally fools to refuse, and the VCs would not get enough return on their investment. I had long since been avoiding anything M$, just because of their nonethics attitude, and the friend was a real M$ junkie. Woke him up a bit. Maybe Teare will wake up a bit. Maybe others will wake up a bit.
    • Their entire business plan was to make something just good enough to get noticed by M$ and sell out to 'em for a couple of mil.

      Like that's real ambitious ain't it?

      Right now I'm sorry I didn't take the job and that they never got noticed before the VC money ran out, but that's mainly because of Bin Laden ruining my life, career prospects and my (old) neighborhood.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Its running a bit slow, so here is the text of his message: (I'm maxed out in karma, but I'd rather not be called a karma whore ;) )
    This is my personal web site and all opinions here are my responsibility and mine alone.

    Last Tuesday Microsoft informed me that it was not renewing RealNames Corporation's contract to resolve Keywords in the IE browser. When the current contract comes to an end on 28 June 2002 the service will be terminated.

    I am no longer an employee of RealNames. Along with 79 others I was terminated on Friday 10 May, 5 years after starting the company.

    I am sure that Microsoft will do an excellent job of misinforming the public about the reasons for this decision and so I want to put the record straight.

    During the past 2 years Microsoft was GIVEN 20% of RealNames stock and $15m in cash guarantees during 2000-2001 (more than 100% of our revenue that year). We were due to pay another $25m in guarantees during 2001-2002 (more than 200% of our revenue that year) but with the bursting of the bubble (and thus no IPO) the second years payment was converted to a note. The note came due on May 2nd 2002.

    RealNames proposed continuing the relationship and offered Microsoft the following:

    1. $5m now as payment against the note.

    2. $5m between July 1 2002 and June 30 2003 or 15% of revenues - the greater of. 3. Microsoft's rev share to be able to reach 40% in steps if our revenues grew sufficiently. The guarantees for the first 5 years of a new deal were $5m, $6m, $7m, $8m and $9m.

    We valued a 5 year deal - if Microsoft would execute on all of the opportunities - at $200m to Microsoft. Far more than the guarantees. At their current PE of 40 that is worth about $2.4 billion post tax in a $100m year 5.

    VeriSign had just committed to a plan to give every com, net and org customer 5 free promotional Keywords for 30 days. This would have resulted in widespread awareness and great revenue boost.

    RealNames was succeeding. We had 3 quarters of growth behind us, we broke even on a cash flow basis in Q1 - for the first time. Usage was growing (500m resolutions in Q1).

    The justification we were given by MSN was:

    1. It isn't about money. Even if you paid we would not renew.

    2. We do not believe in "Naming", we believe in search. This is because we control search 100% whereas we could never control naming. Some of us believe search results are a better experience than navigation through naming. Sure the URL and the DNS are broken, but to fix it is a big job with no clear reward for Microsoft.

    3. The recent public discussion indicates that .NET initiatives which take the form of architecture are greeted with hostility if delivered by Microsoft. So, we could never own this. If it worked, and we liked it we still wouldn't do it. Therefore the plan to put 120m free Keywords out there is our worst nightmare. It would be "out of control".

    So far as I can see this is a classic case of "not invented here". Microsoft dislike the product because they cannot control it. As this is likely to be the situation wherever infrastructure [which is by definition shared] is involved it also implies Microsoft is stepping back from its .NET commitments to build infrastructure.

    In this case the widespread use of the browser and its absolute requirement for our system means that Microsoft's decision has resulted in innovation being stopped. The only naming technology in the world capable of allowing non-ASCII characters to be used as web addresses is being killed at birth - before it succeeds and becomes "out of control". A small private company is being denied an audience - not because of money - but because of fear of losing control. If Microsoft wants to become a major player in internet platform technologies it will have to overcome this fear. What is shared cannot be controlled.

    As a former very vocal supporter of Microsoft (see 700.asp) I am bitterly disappointed by the lack of vision I encountered. I truly hope that the Chief Architect - Bill Gates - and the CEO - Steve Ballmer - are aware of the narrowness of the vision - the defence of search and the URL [ASCII based naming] against a truly global and multi-lingual naming platform with built in directory services. If they are not then a crime has happened under their noses.

    Naturally I'm pretty unhappy about this.

    Microsoft seems to be playing the role of the referee who decides whether any innovations succeed .

    Microsoft only seems comfortable at the application level where they have control, not at the infrastructure level - and this ultimately keeps many innovations from happening.

    Because of this they've just brought innovation in internet naming to a grinding halt - and the internet *really* needs innovation in naming.

    RealNames will not be the only victim - there's a whole ecosystem that stretches all around the world that Microsoft is turning off. CNNIC in China, Forval in Japan and other companies in Belgium, Holland, France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. There are more than 100 registrars of Keywords and they in turn have thousands of resellers. There are more than 100,000 customers including many well known ones like IBM, Xerox [who made RealNames partner of the year last year], EBay, Mattel - who have Keywords on every Barbie Box, and many more.

    Now, Bill Bliss - who runs MSN Search and was until recently in charge of the RealNames relationship, has in the last few weeks been moved to "Natural Language Platforms" and is charged with developing a variant of our system. The browser is now back under Microsoft's control and it is possible that - having learned much from RealNames - it will develop its own version of our resolution service.
  • There's a saying: "If you choose to dance with an elephant, you can only stop when the elephant wants to stop." It is conversely true that if the elephant stops, ain't nothing you can do to get it to dance.

    If you choose to base the entire success of your company on the whims of a company like Microsoft, then don't be surprised if the whims of Microsoft don't go your way. Microsoft will do what's in its best interests, and that often doesn't coincide with the interests of others.

    I take exception to Teare's comment:

    In this case the widespread use of the browser and its absolute requirement for our system means that Microsoft's decision has resulted in innovation being stopped. The only naming technology in the world capable of allowing non-ASCII characters to be used as web addresses is being killed at birth - before it succeeds and becomes "out of control". A small private company is being denied an audience - not because of money - but because of fear of losing control. If Microsoft wants to become a major player in internet platform technologies it will have to overcome this fear. What is shared cannot be controlled.

    Microsoft denied his company nothing that wasn't legitimately its to deny. Microsoft chose not to renew a consentual agreement between it and RealNames. There is nothing wrong with that. It's the basis of a free market.

    This is hardly an example of Microsoft attempting to stifle innovation. If Microsoft were buying their company, then closing the business, maybe. If Microsoft were writing incompatibilities into their code, maybe.

    Microsoft opted to not engage in further agreements with RealNames. Too bad for RealNames. Get back up, brush the dust off, and find a business model that doesn't depend on the good intentions of Microsoft.
    • I take exception to Teare's comment:
      The only naming technology in the world capable of allowing non-ASCII characters to be used as web addresses is being killed at birth

      Also you might want to take exception to the lack of factual basis. Plenty of TLDs already support non-ASCII characters in DNS, and have for some time. Check out, for example, NUNIC's Worldnames project [].

  • Dot Com Whining (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dj28 ( 212815 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @03:24PM (#3506815)
    Why _should_ Microsoft renew a contract with RealName? I still don't understand it. In this free market, if a company feels like it can do better by itself rather than contract work out, why should it contract the work out? On that guy's homepage, he talks as if it is RealName's _right_ for MSN to use their service. Maybe they want their own keyword system, or they feel that it is inferior. To tell you honestly, it's a pretty stupid concept anyways and I don't see the future of the internet going toward that paradigm. There are lots of dot coms whining about their right for other companies to use their service. If RealName didn't have much of a business model (which they didn't), how can they survive? And MSN's justification is correct; the internet is moving toward a Google type system, not a "keyword" type system. AOL already provides a service like RealName did and it only works well if you have ownership of the browsing software. RealName didn't own IE, so it was prone to getting left out in the rain like it did. They should have saw this coming.
    • RealName didn't own IE. They copied a pretty basic feature from AOL.

      Now AOL is shifting to Netscape. AOL has a business with their Keywords. Are we to expect now that AOL will implement keyword features in the netscape browser, and also try to get beyond AOL users to generic internet users with the same consumer leadware?
  • Is it microsofts fault that they don't want to include support for a product thats not worthy NO!
  • by wo1verin3 ( 473094 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @03:31PM (#3506839) Homepage
    1) Party enters in to agreement with MicroSloth
    2) Party can not pay Microsloth what they agreed to and provides a note
    3) Party proposes alternate options to original agreement and MicroSloth decides against the agreement because it is not financially appealing in the long run

    Hrm...they made what seems like a smart business decision without breaking any law or taking advantage of any loophole.

    I don't see the issue.
    • Hrm...they made what seems like a smart business decision without breaking any law or taking advantage of any loophole.

      Maybe that's what he's complaining about; He was expecting Microsoft to fight dirty, and instead they played fair.

  • Technology? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cooldev ( 204270 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @03:32PM (#3506841)

    This illustrates the problem with technology: it is only valuable if you can build something that is not easily imitated or replaced.

    If you hire the ten sharpest people around and you take a year to develop something and then stand still, your competition is going to have no trouble catching up, even if it takes them a little longer or more resources. This is how many popular open source projects such as GIMP and OpenOffice are surviving. They've caught up with the real thing; not entirely, but to the point that they're good enough for a number of users.

    Of those 80 people at RealNames, how many were driving technology forward? Did their entire technology consist of a database mapping keywords to URLs? Three people at Microsoft could probably do that--and scale--in six months.

    The page mentioned that the Microsoft contact got moved to the Natural Language group; maybe MS is coming out with technology that allows you to type natural language queries instead of having to know the exact static keyword. Now that's technology that is not easily imitated or replaced, and it's already here in one form: the Search Assistant in XP.

    I feel sorry for the employees of RealNames that have to find jobs in this economy (which is hopefully picking up!), but it is not Microsoft's job to singlehandedly sustain an unsustainable business, and based on the web page in the article that's what was going on.

    One side note: If RealNames had acquired a patent on their "technology"--the kind we all love to hate--they could have survived if MS is planning on replacing it and not just ditching it altogether.

    • Of those 80 people at RealNames, how many were driving technology forward? Did their entire technology consist of a database mapping keywords to URLs? Three people at Microsoft could probably do that--and scale--in six months.

      Huh? I could do it in 20 minutes.

      The hard part was making anyone want to use it. That's what the 80 people were supposed to be doing.

    • yeah but stuff like that should not be patentable.

      It is basicly a half thought out bussiness idea.
  • The whole RealNames business strategy was an attempt to create, market, and profit from an additional and artificial layer in the whole DNS system. There was no need for it and since RealNames couldn't make a flawed business model work this guy starts crying M$ monopolist foul?!?!


    Come on Keith Teare (founder of RealNames). Grow up! You climbed into bed with M$ because their majority ownership of the browser market was the only possible way to make your rotten egg fly. Now that they're turning their back on you, the crying starts. Just accept the fact that it was a flawed idea, born out of greed during the domain name gold rush and move on.

    And good luck to you.
  • Jesus, this guy get in bed with Microsoft only because Microsoft illeagally stole 80% of the browser market.. and gets bit.

    Cry me a river.

    If you deal with jerks, don't expect them to not be jerks in the future.

    Plus, this twit had a patent on thist stupid "invention" []
  • the companies downfall

    the company's downfall

    Please, at leat have correct spelling/grammar on the front page.
  • Like IBM for instance?

    Of course IBM are now A Good Thing but the only difference is that they had the money needed to hit back.

    Time for some political will to sort this mess out.
  • i havent heard of this until i just loaded up slashdot.
  • Without the MS monopoly on browsers, it would have had even LESS chance of success.

    As much as I'd like to see something besides DNS used to locate websites... because I think there should be no more new TLD's, and the system should be left as-is, to force the world to come up with a better way... realnames wasn't that solution.
  • Someone has got to get me a copy of this dictionary all the Microsoft people use where "innovation" == "junk".

    I don't suppose it ever ocurred to him that their idea was just plain stupid and little more than an attempt to skim money from those foolish enough to pay them.

    The reality is not that Microsoft pushed them out of business... the reality is Microsoft was propping them up by implementing this junk in their browser. And now that MS isn't going to prop them up anymore, they're history.
  • Instead of a new tld..
    how about a new record type for websites? A record that includes both an IP address and a port.

    That would rock.
  • Need I say more?

  • Hint: If you make a product that targets only Microsoft software, and then Microsoft decides it doesn't want to pay you anymore and you go out of business, it's probably not Microsoft's fault, it's probably your own lack of forsight.
  • Its just the same old broken record. It was only five years ago when RealPlayer went into "partnership" with M$ to extend Real's innovation with streaming media and lo-and-behold, eight months into the deal M$ pulls out citing all sorts of difficulties and problems and four months after that *poof* Windows Media Player is launched with M$'s own proprietary media format.

    Doesn't anybody remember those old movies where the guy makes a deal with the devil, only to get burned later on?

    If you ask me it's their own fault if they're going to fall for M$'s tired old shell game.
  • we don't consider people to be RN assets.

    IP is the asset, people are free agents.


    MSFT recruiting would be a positive message to employees.

    A positive message doesn't pay the mortgage. Thanks guys. You're wonderful people.

    This perfectly illustrates the non-future that W-4 employment is becoming. Oh, and for all you boardroom-apologists: this happens ALL THE TIME. Don't even try to argue about it.

    I wonder which of these managers are free agents. While we're at it, if people are so "free" why do they make the hiring process more grueling than becoming an astronaut.

    It's sickening.

  • Point #3 as to why MSN is moving away from RealNames mentions the hostility that .Net My Services was received, and how Microsoft is moving away from creating basic infrastructure services. Especially when said service appears to offer a mechanism to control what users see on the Internet. They specifically mention if RealNames became extremely popular(120M entries), this would be greeted by even more hostility towards Microsoft.

    So it's interesting how the slashbot editors have tried to spin this as a negative, as this is exactly the type of responsible attitude that they have previously desired to come from Microsoft.
  • Do you want to walk us through the highlights of your proposals?

    Well, only if there's a point to doing so.

    Excellent question.

    If you already know what you want to do, maybe we should begin with that.

    Yes. We should.

    OK, well, We aren't going to continue to bet on Keywords


    Don't stand there and dance for quarters. Pick up your stuff and leave. Sell to buyers, not skeptics. Bill 'em for your time too. They could have sent this by e-mail. This kind of arrogance is designed to do two things:

    • Create a non-existent problem which they will solve at your expense.
    • Create an illusory bargaining chip which will be traded for all of your value

    Don't believe the hype. The only way to negotiate with arrogance is to close the door, while it still belongs to you. Meeting adjourned. ^^

  • by xjnfx ( 572692 )
    that is business, and that is what you get for dancing with the devil. Rugged, worn and torn the machine marches on, with your employee's no less. . tough break but its a holiday in cambodia.
  • by epukinsk ( 120536 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @05:39PM (#3507303) Homepage Journal

    Keith Teare wants us to email 'zig'? For great justice? (Zig Serafin - Corporate Development)
    What you say!! Someone set him up the bomb!

  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @06:02PM (#3507373) Homepage
    If you don't want Microsoft to referee the success or failure of your innovation, then don't create innovations which depend on marketing and implementation deals with Microsoft for their success.

    RealNames was a marketing ploy, taking advantage of Microsoft's dominance above actual internet standards, and exchanging that monopoly for material gain. The fact that it failed is a testament to the capability of standards over proprietary schemes, and is hardly an example of the evils of Microsoft's monopoly.

    The evils of Microsoft's monopoly is the reason RealNames existed in the first place, not the reason it was torn down.
  • From Kieth's homepage: "The .NET process and Visual Studio .NET both demonstrate good vision and an awareness of the responsibility to build tools and applications on top of the Internet as a Platform."

    While, in other news, Microsoft VP Jim Allchin admits .NET is in disarray, and is in in the midst of a complete strategic overhaul [].

    Interesting dichotomy, that.
  • by Edmund Blackadder ( 559735 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @06:53PM (#3507556)
    The story is quite simple - the guy had a loan from MS. The loan came due and he couldnt pay it back.

    So he started offering delayed repayment plans. Microsoft accepted them for a while and then they stopped. Well nobody is required to accept delayed repayment plans. Its their money after all.

    So that guy tries to hide the fact that his bussiness failed by saying that Ms refused to accept his "innovations". Well the market refused to accept his "innovations" too. His bussiness did not succeed.

    And as far as the innovations go lets be realistic here. All he did was try to hijack domain names. I am actually glad he did not succeed. I dont want some private co connected to microsoft in control of the naming system. At least icann pretends to be community governed.

  • by darkonc ( 47285 ) <stephen_samuel@b ... m ['gre' in gap]> on Sunday May 12, 2002 @07:12PM (#3507630) Homepage Journal
    From his homapage:
    There are more than 100,000 customers including many well known ones like IBM, Xerox [who made RealNames partner of the year last year], EBay, Mattel - who have Keywords on every Barbie Box, and many more.
    What can you do? Probably nothing.

    I think that there is something that people can do.

    Create their own name tool.

    It seems to me that there are enough 'big movers' in this process that a consortium to re-install a naming process into IE is possible. Not only that, but it could be done in an 'open' manner such that the same naming mechanism could be used for IE, Netscap, Mozilla and any other browser that was interested in doing so.

    Yes, this might require that realnames restart it's process, to a certain extent, but they will have to do this anyways if the company is to thrive. Microsoft is *NOT* necessary to this. They were the best way to get the process kick-started. Now that people know what realnames is capable of, it's possible to now take this to the next level -- but without any fealty payments to Microsoft.

    This could be the death of realnames, or it could be a new beginning.

    If realnames really wants to take on this task, one of the first things to do would probably be to create an add-on/plugin, and put some add hooks into the links created by real-names such that people know where to find the new extension. Then people at various large sites would need to put links allowing people to find the addin as well.

    Time is short, but the opportunity is as large is the problem.

  • I liked RealNames. Especially because it worked.

    I'd type "? Windows Media Guide" into my address bar and get the site for it, because I could never remember the link and didn't want to favorite place it.

    Typing in a search ? $SEARCH usually yielded the RealNames keyword of what I was looking for. This was especially useful searching for band web pages where the band's web site and name don't necessarely coincide.

    With the release of an API for the Google database, I'd like to see MS license it and convert addressbar "? $SEARCH" searching using MSN search to using Google search-it'd be a ton better and still do the same thing.

    Plus if MS dropped it, google wouldn't go under.
  • This reminds me of the theatrical play "Faust" where the main character sells his soul to the devil in order to advance his standing in life, career, love etc. In the end the devil comes for his soul...

    In ASCII, this means I have no sympathy with this man. Microsoft has a long record of screwing it's partners and to be honest, these people should know better. Microsoft was caught stealing code by Apple, the makers of Softimage and others and regularly works "with" "partners" in order to "embrace and extend" the product once they have sent the former "partner"(e.g. IBM) off into the wilderness. There would have been hundreds if not thousands of people in the business world that would have warned him not to trust Microsoft, IF he would have bothered to stop checking his bank account every 5 minutes and listend to what they had to say, but greed is a powerful motivating factor. Microsoft could not find find any partners for it's hailstorm/passport strategy for a reason: No one trusts them.

    This man would have had a better chance of long term success if he had worked with the opensource crowd to get the technology accepted.
  • Slashdotters defending Microsoft? And getting Modded up for doing so? Have I stepped into Bizarro world when nobody was looking?
  • At the end of his rant, Keith references this []. I think this sums up that he was always an enemy of innovation.
  • This guy testified in favor of M$ at their DOJ trial about how they aren't monopoly wielding thugs. By his own admission they killed his company because they couldn't control his technology, even if they wanted to and didn't want to give him control of the name space. Let's face it this guy wanted a names monopoly of his own so he piggybacked the Microsoft browser monopoly to get there, zero competition for browser keywords. Microsoft is replacing their technology with a system where a URL which fails initiates a search on the Microsoft search engine, so they have "100% control". It's clearly a case of eliminating the competition through abandonment as their only route to market. I don't have any sympathy for this guy in light of his testimony. He didn't give a crap when Microsoft were destroying other companies with proven illegal methods. Now when they come for him he complains, he deserves it more than Netscape I do think something should be done about this though, it is a clear case of Microsoft destroying competition by tying their own search engine to their browser and killing RealNames to do it.
  • For someone who seems bitter about Microsoft, it's interesting that he still uses their free mail service... :-)

"For the man who has everything... Penicillin." -- F. Borquin