eHub Interviews Silentale

Posted by Cesar H Castro Jr on Tuesday, December 15th, 2009. Filed under: eHub Interviews Social networking


Thanks to Laurent Féral-Pierssens of Silentale for taking time to do this interview. Visit Silentale, originally added to eHub on Dec 6, 2009.

With a Big Thanks for the 50 invites good until Dec 31st, 2009 just head over to Silentale press the signup button and enter ST4eHub in the invitation code. Without further ado lets begin.

eHub: What is your web application/service about?

Silentale: Silentale helps solve the fast-growing pain of communication fragmentation: with the rise of social networks, real-time communication and mobile internet, our conversations get scattered across multiple channels and devices, which makes information harder to track, keep and search. Silentale automatically consolidates in a searchable archive all your contacts and conversations across multiple communication platforms (emails, social networks, SMS, chat and more) without you having to change your habits. Because we’re in the Cloud, we surface your contacts and message exchanged with them wherever and whenever you need it: via search or custom applications developed on our open API. We add value to your conversations because we organize your data so you can find exactly what you’re looking with a minimum amount of time and effort.

eHub: Why did you start this project?

Silentale: It came from a personal need to consolidate all my email history, going back to my first email accounts from the early 90s. After some market research confirmed the need for organizing contacts and messages over the long run, I decided to expand this vision to incorporate all types of communication platforms.

eHub: How much time do you devote to its growth? Do you have a day job?

Silentale: I am 100% dedicated to this project and so is our international team who works around the clock in France, Romania and North America.

eHub: How large is your team and what are your backgrounds?

eHub: Please include the full names and roles of team members.

Silentale: The management team combines the experience of entrepreneurs and the operational expertise of former top executives from leading internet companies.

  • I (Laurent Féral-Pierssens) am a seasoned entrepreneur and Computer Science and Mathematics graduate from McGill University with a significant amount of experience in information management and archival in the communication, healthcare and financial industries. I previously founded and successfully sold three Canadian startups in: Biotech Information Systems, Email Marketing SaaS, and Healthcare and Financial Information Systems.
  • Erwan Arzur, our CTO, is leading Silentale’s platform infrastructure. Erwan has been involved in developing Internet applications since late 1995 at Netscape, Nielsen/Netratings and Comscore. Erwan designed and implemented NetValue’s Internet measurement technology (Megapanel), which later on became Nielsen/Netratings flagship product. On top of team leadership, Erwan masters all aspects of Internet technology, including service architecture, infrastructure security and scaling.
  • Laurence Bret, our CMO, is building out Silentale’s social media and marketing strategy. She is a seasoned Marketing Executive with 15 years experience in the Telecom and Internet industries. Laurence has developed an extensive knowledge of all aspects of marketing, from product development to branding, through customer acquisition, retention, promotion and PR. She has a proven track-record in successfully launching paid-subscription-based Internet access and services, most recently as Marketing Director for AOL Europe.
  • Shannon Ferguson, our COO, is in charge of launching the service and expanding the business going forward. Shannon is an accomplished General Manager with 15 years international experience in launching new consumer products and services in the internet and media industries. She led the development of Yahoo! Europe’s Music & Entertainment activities as Managing Director, after spending over 6 years at Sky Television in London where she launched and ran the pay-per-view movie service. Shannon holds a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

The technical team includes experts in information processing and rich interfaces:

  • Nicolas Fouché, Lead Developer
  • Florent Vaucelle, Web Developer
  • Catalin Bordianu, Software Engineer
  • Alin Alexandru, Software Engineer

Silentale also has an advisory committee of leaders and founders of major players in Internet and telecom.

eHub: What is your design philosophy?

Silentale: Be (i) useful to our users (ii) simple to use (iii) as unintrusive as possible, and (iv) open. This means (i) fitting to our users needs and behaviors, even if we have to kill features; (ii) make our interface as clean and intuitive as possible, and be available everywhere; (iii) save the users time and effort by taking over and automating as many tasks as possible, and finally (iv) foster a community of developers who will use our APIs to extend our coverage and create customized applications.

eHub: What technologies are you currently using?

Silentale: Silentale is a Software as a Service (SaaS). Its infrastructure resides in the Amazon Web Services’ cloud of which we are one of the largest startup customers in Europe. It is fully scalable and open via a set of APIs. Other technologies we have implemented and, for some, contributed to, include MongoDB, MySQL, Ruby on Rails and Beanstalkd among others.

eHub: If your project is live, what are the most requested features from your users/community?

Silentale: We listen carefully to our users feedback and interrogate them about the services and functionality they would like us to develop in priority. We already started responding to their demands by releasing the Linkedin connector last week, which was the top requested service. Additional requests for services to track include Facebook messages and Skype chat. Our beta users have also provided us with invaluable suggestions regarding functionality, including our signup process, the user interface, and requests for new applications such as for the iPhone.

eHub: Does your user base reside in a primary geographic location or is it distributed?

Silentale: We count more than 70 different nationalities among our users! Most of them are coming from Europe and North America though. We’re based in France but definitely have global ambitions.

eHub: Where do you see the project heading in the next 6 months? The next 2 years?

Silentale: Our next milestone is the launch of our Public Beta and paid service. We are currently in Private Beta and offer unlimited storage for free, but will be charging $50/year while a limited version of our service will remain available for free.

eHub: What is the greatest challenge to your success?

Silentale: Rolling out product improvements as quickly as possible, growing our user base, and demonstrating the value of the paid service.

eHub: What is the one thing you need to get to the next phase of the project?

Silentale: More developers!!

eHub: Do you have a business model? If so, what is it?

Silentale: We have a freemium business model: a free but limited version with a 8 weeks message history and 5 connectors, and an unlimited version for $50/year.

We also anticipate additional features/functionality that could launch as a la carte paid services in future.

eHub: How much traffic or usage do you see on an average day?

Silentale: After 3 months of operation, we’ve already indexed tens of millions messages and contacts. We’re among Amazon Web Services’ top startup European customers for cloud computing.

eHub: What is the one thing you’re most proud of about the project?

Silentale: Two things: launching the private beta in a difficult economic environment with a lean team, and the positive feedback we’ve received from our users about the product and its usefulness.

eHub: How would you describe the shift that’s occurring with the web right now to future generations?

Silentale: The future of the web is about information organization: filtering and prioritizing the overwhelming amount of content that we’re bombarded with every day. Mashable recently stated that Americans consume 34 GB of data per day!

We believe that companies who can help curate this overload in a useful way to identify the most important content, or help people find what they are looking for will be winners. You may want to check out our blogpost on Aggregation through the Ages.

Open is also a huge trend at the moment, and will have an enormous impact on the ability of companies to launch new products & services, and the speed with which they do so, to the benefit of consumers.

eHub: What site(s) do you visit or have in your RSS reader other than your own?

Silentale: Among (lots of) others, GigaOm, TechMeme & TweetMeme, aVC by Fred Wilson.

eHub: How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

Silentale: Probably not enough but it’s is worth it.

Once again, a big thanks to Laurent Féral-Pierssens of Silentale.

A special thanks to Laurence Bret of Silentale as well for setting up this Interview.

Visit Silentale, originally added to eHub on Dec 6, 2009.