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Excite founders launching new venture

Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer unveiling start-up that lets developers build Web apps using a shared online template.

Excite.com co-founders Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer will announce a new start-up on Wednesday geared toward letting developers build Web applications using a shared online template.

Called JotSpot, the company uses "wiki" technology, essentially Web pages designed to let people edit and contribute to projects on a common interface. Instead of collaborating on a document, JotSpot is creating a wiki for developing Web applications. That means developers can use a common platform to create online features for internal corporate uses.

JotSpot pages will include e-mail in-boxes on every page to leave a record of correspondences between project workers. The software will also support external content feeds onto its pages, such as RSS (real simple syndication), Word documents and eventually SalesForce.com information via SOAP.

The company has secured $5.2 million in funding from Mayfield and Redpoint Ventures.

"What we can do for collaborative Web-based applications is what Excel did for financial applications," Kraus, CEO of JotSpot, said in an interview, "which is decrease the skill level required to make them, increase the speed with which they are made, and make them integrated with other data."

The launch of JotSpot marks the tech re-entry for Kraus and Spencer, the two Stanford graduates who created Excite.com. The search engine-turned Web portal was one of the high fliers in the late 1990s and watched its fortunes rise with the Internet bubble. In 1999, broadband cable ISP @Home acquired Excite for $7.2 billion in hopes of offering more content via its fast Internet pipes.

But the merger was ill-fated, plagued by battling cable companies and internal culture clashes that tore Excite@Home at its seams. The company eventually shut down after filing for bankruptcy, while cable partners such as Comcast and Cox took their broadband ISP operations in-house.

In March this year, search engine Ask Jeeves acquired Excite, iWon and MyWay for $343 million in cash and stock.