Every day people use multiple social networks and cloud-based services, from Facebook and Twitter to Dropbox and Google Drive. Tampa, FL-based startup KiteDesk is looking to make it easy for users to switch between email, apps and social networks with its new platform, which aims to bring online services together as streams of information and eliminate the need to constantly switch between browser tabs.
Launched in private beta this summer, KiteDesk combines shared documents, emails, and social media posts as one stream of updates, right now letting users connect to Dropbox, Facebook, Google Apps and Twitter. Users can build different streams, for example one for their Facebook and personal email, and one for their Twitter and business email, as well as filter messages to create custom streams around a project or event. They can also reply to emails, Tweets and Facebook posts from within their KiteDesk account.
KiteDesk CEO Jack Kennedy calls switching between cloud services and other apps “cloud-flipping,” and said he built KiteDesk as a way to create a more integrated user experience. “If you really think about all of these different applications, a lot of them have a few really common concepts that are built in,” Kennedy said. “We thought that there was an opportunity to potentially go after giving individual users an application that lets them get access to all the information that they personally have access to…in one great interface that would knock down the walls between different applications and different silos.”
The company originally launched in private beta in May 2012 with several hundred enterprise users, and only allowed users to connect their Google Apps account. Feedback from those testers was that they wanted to be able to connect other services, so Kennedy and co-founder Jared Rodriguez relaunched the private beta in August to target anyone who uses Twitter, Facebook, Google Apps or Dropbox at home or at work. The site is free for all users right now, but as they start integrating more services like Salesforce, Microsoft Exchange and Box, they plan to introduce paid accounts based on how many services a user wants to connect.
Today the company also announced its integration with FullContact, which provides contact management application programming interfaces (APIs). The integration means that beyond being able to view emails and other updates in KiteDesk, the service also tries to give a Rapportive-style lens into other interactions with a given person, such as showing the latest Tweets and Facebook updates from a friend, or past emails they’ve sent.
KiteDesk isn’t the first company to try to add context and more streamlined access to a user’s online accounts, and there are similar cloud aggregation services like Jolicloud, CloudMagic and Primadesk. Others tackling simplifying a user’s online activity include social media inbox Engagio, which tracks replies, comments and other social media updates from platforms like Google+ and Facebook comments, and Rapportive, now owned by LinkedIn, which gives users information about email contacts in their inbox. There’s also Dispatch, which similarly aims to connect a user’s cloud services, but is more focused on letting team members discuss files than being used as a personal inbox.
Kennedy believes KiteDesk’s streams feature is its most unique feature, and they’ll soon let users share streams with their colleagues, moving more towards a team collaboration model. He also said their focus on files, calendar events and messaging, whether via email or social networks, is what sets them apart. “We think that going very broadly to include all of the different concepts we include is really what’s most compelling to consumers as opposed to our competition,” he said, adding that he believes apps like Cue (formerly Greplin) focus on calendar events, and services like Primadesk and Jolicloud tackle cloud service aggregation but not messaging and contact management (though Cue does allow users to connect their email and social accounts as well as their calendar). “We think that what really sets us apart is that we identified that what people really want is an application that’s focused on them as an individual consumer.”
The company is planning to launch an iOS application shortly, and an Android app in 2013. Tackling the disparate information in the average user’s daily life and organizing it in a cohesive and interactive way is helpful, but KiteDesk is only one of several companies tackling the information overload problem. Adding additional enterprise-focused services should help it cater to an enterprise-level audience, the group most likely to pay for a way to organize their day.