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Tech veterans aim to get Web surfers talking

Veterans of companies including Netscape and Silicon Graphics band together to form a stealth start-up focused on one of the hottest developing areas of Web browsing technology.

Veterans of Web pioneers including Netscape Communications and Silicon Graphics have banded together to form a stealth start-up focused on one of the hottest developing areas of Web browsing technology.

Founded by Jed Kleckner, former director of product marketing for Netscape's messaging and collaboration group, along with Cary David, a software consultant, Crowdburst formed in August with the goal of expanding the ways in which Net users communicate with each other while visiting Web sites.

"We've got what we think is a fantastic idea for transforming the Web from a static, solitary place into a dynamic, interactive community," said David, the start-up's chief executive.

The company is keeping mum about details of the product but says it will compete with the likes of Gooey, Odigo and Third Voice, applications that let Web surfers chat with or post messages to other visitors to particular Web sites.

The rise of Gooey and Odigo, which let Web site visitors chat with each other, has spurred America Online, a leader in instant messaging, to develop its own competing technologies.

Crowdburst benefits from the graduation of a class of experienced Web technologists and marketers from first-generation Web companies like Netscape and Yahoo. With their initial four-year stock option agreements vested, many of these workers have jumped to start-ups like Crowdburst.

Another key employee from Netscape is Spence Murray, former lead engineer for Netscape's Communicator browser for the Unix platform. He is now lead engineer at Crowdburst.

The company is testing its product internally and expects to launch it within the next two to three months.

Crowdburst said it has collected more than $1 million in seed funding and will be pursuing its first round of venture capital funding in the current quarter.