Founder of Aldus and Visio books third company

Online calendars: They've been around for years, but the founders of Visio say theirs will emerge from the masses.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
2 min read
Jeremy Jaech has a new quest: getting rid of the calendar in the kitchen.

Jaech, who helped found Aldus in the 1980s and Visio in the 1990s, is kicking off a third decade in technology start-ups with Trumba, an online calendaring application and service for consumers. Subscribers will be able to schedule their lives, and those of their families, through a Web site that will also send reminders and note scheduling conflicts.

Jeremy Jaech
CEO, Trumba

The idea for the company emerged after Jaech and other Visio founders sold the company to Microsoft for $1.6 billion in 1999 and then left the software giant.

"When you no longer have an administrative assistant, you realize how difficult it is to manage events," he said.

The company, which will demonstrate the product publicly for the first time at PC Forum next week, joins the growing stampede into home computing and consumer electronics. (PC Forum is run by CNET Networks, publisher of News.com.)

In the past few years, a plethora of companies have promised to take the pain out of home networking, deliver movies into the home and make it easier to access personal files.

Jaech readily admits that calendaring is about as new an idea as pudding cups. "Everyone and their brother has created a Web calendar. Search on Google on Web calendar, and you will get hundreds of hits."

Nonetheless, the concept answers a problem more families face these days, and someone has got to succeed, he posited. To break away from the pack, Trumba will essentially try to avoid the mistakes made by other calendaring services and capitalize on the viral-marketing techniques that made Hotmail huge.

Some of the mistakes made by other sites include a clunky user interface and weak synchronization, he said. On some free Web calendar services, a group or school that wants to add an event to the calendars of all of its members has to first make sure each of the members is a registered user. With Trumba, only the person posting the event has to be a member.

The company, unlike many of these free services, however, plans to charge money to people who want to schedule events. Annual subscriptions may cost something like $40 to $50, though final pricing has not been set. Charging fees has been a death knell for several software start-ups. But in exchange for fees, users won't get bombarded with things they don't want.

"It is not cluttered. We have no advertising," he said.

The service is in a testing phase now and will likely open commercially later this year. The company received $4.75 million in venture funding last summer from August Capital and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers.