Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The annual French Tech Tour brings some interesting companies to Silicon Valley

Yesterday I went to see the annual French Tech Tour visiting Sand Hill road in Menlo Park. Like last year they brought with them some interesting startups from France. For a full list see their website where there is also some more information on the rest of their tour of Silicon Valley during the rest of this week. For example tomorrow they will be at Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale.

The French Tech Tour is organised by UbiFrance which is France's public agency for international business development. They are represented in 44 countries by the French Trade Offices. Every year they select a few of the more than a hundred applicants who they bring to Silicon Valley to show them how business is done here and enable them to start networking in the valley in case they decide to open an office in Silicon Valley. As part of their tour they are also invited to visit with a few of the larger companies in the valley such as HP, Microsoft, Sony, Symantec, Intel Capital, Cisco and of course Google.

In the next few paragraphs I will describe some of the companies I met at the French Tech Tour that I thought were especially interesting. Keep in mind though that most of these are startups, and that they have just began their journey to the United States. (I mean some of their websites really require some knowledge of the French language).

Their slogan is SaaS: Security as a Service. A little bit confusing at first, since SaaS usually stands for Software as a Service but once I figured out what they do, I agree that their software does indeed provide a service.

So what do they do? Their customers typically run a publicly accessible web service and BinarySec will filter all their incoming traffic. As soon as something malicious is found in the incoming traffic BinarySec will block the culprit thus protecting the web service from external harm. They use an adaptive technology that learns over time what kind of traffic is normal and which traffic is malicious. Instead of running this filtering software on the clients premise BinarySec will run the filtering on one of the machines in their own data center. As such they are a real Software as a Service provider. Customers pay a monthly fee depending on the amount of traffic that is filtered.

Coda System puts a lawyer in your cell phone camera. Their "Shoot & Proof" product is a mobile software application that captures non modifiable, localized and legally valid digital pictures with a simple mobile phone. (IPhone version coming shortly). Let's say for example you get into an accident and your car is damaged, of course you can take pictures of all the damage but with a normal cell phone or digital camera picture you have no proof as to when and where you took it and you have no way of proofing that the pictures weren't modified. If you use "Shoot & Proof" then the when and where along with the original photo are encrypted in such a way that the end result is considered legal proof. After you take the picture it is automatically uploaded to the Coda System web site where you can access it from your account any time.

Calinda Software turns your emails into something easier to manage. Calinda solves a very familiar problem in the work space: let' say you send an email to a number of people with a few questions in it. Some people will reply to all questions and send their reply to all people on the original list, some will reply to only a few questions, some will send their reply only to the originator and some will not reply at all. To make things even more complicated: people will reply to replies, and some will reply to replies to replies to .....

Sorting out all these email discussions will become so time consuming that most people will not even try. Of course you can use a Wiki or SharePoint to facilitate the discussion but the problem is that some people do not want to use anything besides email. Calinda Software to the rescue: they provide a simple web service that allows you to create the original email and it inserts some clickable links that people can use to participate in the discussion. Also every email sent as a reply to the original email is captured along with all attachments by the Calinda web server and the end result is a fully formatted web page that shows the exact chain of emails, when they were sent, who sent them and all the attachments nicely sorted. Instead of a web page the complete email chain can also be converted into a SharePoint object.

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