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The.com launches a low-code, collaborative website builder that uses customizable ‘blocks,’ not templates – TechCrunch

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A startup with the easy-to-remember name of The.com aims to modernize website building while also ensuring that web creators get credit for their work. The company, which is today emerging from stealth with $4.4 million in seed funding in tow, has created what it calls a “low-code, website building platform” that aims to ditch the template-based approach that’s become an industry standard. Instead, The.com’s site builder uses community-created components you can drop into your site and share with others. Website creators can even collaborate with one another during the site-building process and chat directly.

The company has now closed on $4.4 million in seed funding led by NFX and with participation from Sound Ventures, VSC Ventures, Village Global and Harry Stebbings.

The idea for The.com comes from co-founders and brothers, Jeff and Clarke McKinnon. The founders have a background in website development and design, having run their own web development agency in Boulder from 2012 through 2019, before founding The.com. During this time, they experienced firsthand the frustrations that come with traditional web development, Clarke said.

“We were waiting for somebody else to come up with the perfect platform that will solve all our needs. It just didn’t happen,” Clarke told TechCrunch. “So we started to build it ourselves.”

Image Credits: The.com co-founders, Jeff & Clarke McKinnon

Initially, their platform was meant to be an internal tool, but it began to draw interest from their current customers who encouraged the brothers to make the product more broadly available and turn it into a business. So the brothers shut down their agency business in May 2019 to work on what has now become The.com.

Clarke explained that, with traditional web development and legacy platforms, there are speed and security issues. But there’s also a constant struggle with customers asking for deeper customizations, which then require hard-coding and continual work to keep updated. Plus, many of the current web-building platforms today are geared toward people who are already site designers. But the co-founders knew from their own experience that there’s often a big group of people who contribute to a website who aren’t designers.

“We just needed a website-building platform that put everyone on the same playing field,” Clarke said.

Starting a new website on The.com is as easy as pressing a “create site” button, which then immediately deploys the site infrastructure. Users can then invite other people to build with them as collaborators, and then click a button to start editing the site. Instead of starting from scratch or picking out a template, creators pick and choose the individual pieces and components they want to use. That means they can pick up a navigation element from one The.com creator, a footer from someone else, and other elements like hero images, headers, banners, body elements, and more from different community members. As you pick the elements, confetti bursts on-screen, giving credit to the original component’s creator. But in time, The.com will roll out a way of rewarding creators financially, as well.

Image Credits: The.com

“The goal there is to make sure the people who are building the block are getting the most out of it,” Clarke said. “When we were an agency, we built all these incredible sites — and then they’d get used once and we never earn from them again. And there’s a lot of stuff that never made it out to the live sites — stuff that the customers said they didn’t really like, or maybe it didn’t make the cut. So it would be great to earn from that, over and over,” he added, speaking to the motivation behind making these reusable building blocks.

The site builder itself has an interesting design, too. It’s a floating window that sits in front of the website being created. But it’s a bit more advanced than some WYSIWYG designers, with sections for managing the sites’ pages, blocks and sheets (essentially, freeform databases). After you add the individual website elements, you can customize them further — updating fonts, colors, images, text and more, just as you could if you were writing or editing website code. You can also make changes by adding raw JavaScript or creating new elements from scratch.

As you work on the site, the changes you’re making happen live on the screen — you don’t have to click a “preview” to see what things will look like. And the elements you’ve customized can be shared back to the community marketplace, if you choose.

Image Credits: The.com

The marketplace allows The.com to capitalize on the creator economy trend, where people are rewarded directly for their work. The founders believe some of the top creators may even become “website influencers,” encouraging others to customize their own sites using their tools.

“In the marketplace, people will get more and more popular based on the quality and the great design and impressive building that they do,” Clarke noted. “What we see going forward is that people want credit for their work.” As the blocks get re-used, The.com will allow the original creator to get credit, including in the community and on the website.

Currently, The.com claims its community is in the thousands, in terms of customers, and has a couple of hundred daily active users.

The other notable element to The.com’s website builder is the collaborative element. Many of The.com’s customers are agencies or small businesses, as opposed to individual users. That means multiple people will be able to update the site together. Currently, the builder will display a profile icon next to the part each person is editing, but in the future, users will be able to edit side-by-side. There’s also a native chat feature so you can talk to other site collaborators directly about your build.

Image Credits: The.com

As the startup comes out of stealth, it’s also announcing its debut pricing plans. The basic plan, for those who want to kick the tires, is free. Other tiers are priced monthly at $36, $190 or $1,499 per month, depending on feature set, support needs and volume. The.com’s customers range from small businesses and startups to enterprises. At the higher end, some are using The.com on top of Shopify as a headless option, which increases their website speed and decreases their bounce rate, they found.

Though technically headquartered in San Francisco, The.com has a distributed team of 11 full-time employees, and a total of 15 working on the business. With their newly announced seed funding, they plan to hire in engineering and community, and work on further product development.

As for scoring such a coveted URL as The.com, the founders said a good friend helped them with the deal.

“It’s a friends-and-family discount. We’re lucky that this person was involved in the domain world for a long time and had access to a bunch of good stuff,” Clarke said, declining to share who the mentor may be.

“Unlike the Web 1.0 and 2.0 website building systems, The.com’s platform has network effects and composability,” said lead investor James Currier, General Partner at NFX. “It drives ownership to the creators and will allow creators to rebuild the web with new primitives. We’re long overdue for category innovation like this. If you’re still using WordPress to build websites today, you’re going to want to switch to The.com,” he added.

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Identity in the metaverse: Creating a global identity system

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With the advent of the metaverse, the need for a global identity system has become apparent. There are many different ways to create an identity in the metaverse, but no single system is universally accepted. 

The challenge is usually two-fold: first, how to create an identity that is accepted by all the different platforms and services in the metaverse, and second, how to keep track of all the different identities a person may have.

There are many proposed solutions to these challenges, but no clear consensus has emerged. Some believe that a single, global identity system is the only way to ensure interoperability between different platforms and services. Others believe that multiple identities are necessary to allow people to maintain their privacy and security.

The debate is ongoing, but it is clear that the need for a global identity system is becoming more urgent as the metaverse continues to grow.

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In this article, we will explore the various options for creating a global identity system in the metaverse. We will discuss the pros and cons of each option, and try to identify the best solution for the future.

Option 1: A single global identity

The simplest solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to create a single, global identity system. This would be a centralized system that would be responsible for managing all identities in the metaverse. 

The advantages of this approach are obvious: It would be much easier to keep track of identities, and there would be no need to worry about different platforms and services accepting different identities. In addition, a centralized identity system would allow for better security and privacy controls, as well as the ability to track identity theft and fraud.

However, this approach also has several disadvantages. First, it would be very difficult to create a global identity system that is accepted by everyone. Also, a centralized system would be vulnerable to attack and could be used to track people’s movements and activities. Third, it would be difficult to protect the privacy of users in a centralized system.

Option 2: Multiple identities

Another solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to allow each person to have multiple identities. This would mean that each person could have one or more identities that they use for different purposes. 

One of the main advantages of this approach is that it would allow people to maintain their privacy and security. Each person could choose which identity to use for each situation, and they would not have to worry about their entire identity being exposed. In addition, this approach would be more resilient to attack, as it would be much harder to take down multiple identities than a single one.

The limitations of such an approach would be that it could be difficult to keep track of all the different identities, and there would be no guarantee that different platforms and services would accept all of them. In addition, multiple identities could lead to confusion and could make it more difficult for people to build trust with others.

Option 3: A decentralized identity system

A third solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to create a decentralized identity system. This would be an identity system that is not controlled by any one centralized authority but rather is distributed among many different nodes. 

This might seem like the ideal approach, since decentralization is a common theme in the metaverse. However, there are still some challenges that need to be overcome. For instance, it would need to be ensured that all the different nodes in the system are properly synchronized and that the system as a whole is secure. In addition, it might be difficult to get people to adopt such a system if they are used to the more traditional centralized approach.

One solution would be to get the nodes in the system to be run by different organizations. This would help to decentralize the system and make it more secure. Another advantage of this approach is that it would allow different organizations to offer their own identity services, which could be more tailored to their needs.

Another would be to incorporate an edge computing solution into the system. This would allow for more decentralized processing of data and could help to improve performance. It would also make the system more resilient to attack since there would be no centralized point of failure.

The best solution for the future of identity in the metaverse is likely to be a combination of these approaches. A centralized system might be necessary to provide a basic level of identity services, but it should be supplemented by a decentralized system that is more secure and resilient. Ultimately, the goal should be to create an identity system that is both easy to use and secure.

The ideal identity standards of the metaverse

Now that we have explored the various options for identity in the metaverse, we can start to identify the ideal standards that should be met by any future global identity system. 

It is no easy task to create a global identity system that meets all of the criteria, but it is important to strive for an ideal solution. After all, the metaverse is still in its early stages, and the decisions made now will have a lasting impact on its future. 

Current iterations of the metaverse have used very traditional approaches to identity, but it is time to start thinking outside the box. The ideal solution will be one that is secure, private, decentralized, and easy to use. It will be a solution that allows people to maintain their privacy while still being able to interact with others in the metaverse. 

Most importantly, it will be a solution that can be accepted and used by everyone. Only then can we hope to create a truly global identity system for the metaverse.

The bottom line on identity in the metaverse

The question of identity in the metaverse is a complex one, but it is an important issue that needs to be addressed. 

The challenges associated with creating an implementation that is secure, private and decentralized are significant, but they are not insurmountable. For one, it will be important to get buy-in from organizations that have a vested interest in the metaverse. These organizations can help to promote and support the adoption of identity standards. 

It is also important to keep in mind that the metaverse is still evolving, and the solution that is ideal today might not be ideal tomorrow. As such, it will be critical to have a flexible identity system that can adapt as the needs of the metaverse change. 

Ultimately, the goal should be to create an identity system that is both easy to use and secure. Only then can we hope to create a truly global identity system for the metaverse.

Daniel Saito is CEO and cofounder of StrongNode

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How to Eliminate Scheduling Inefficiencies in Your Business

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What do salons, consultancies, and home service providers all have in common? This question may seem like the prime setup for a joke, but there’s no punchline to look forward…

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Why You Should Start a Business Only While You Have a Job

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many people that I meet tell me that they dream of starting their own . I always ask them, “Then why don’t you?” They typically respond by saying that they have so many financial and personal responsibilities, that they can’t just quit their job to start a company, etc. Then I tell them my story …



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Related: How to Use Your Current Job to Start Your Next Business

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