This is admittedly kind of an insider-y post that gets complicated very quickly. Still, we thought it important to offer our POV and make clear our position on the matter.
If you’re not familiar, you can read about the recent controversy involving Digsby, an excellent instant messaging platform, here. Unfortunately, Digsby learned the hard way that it’s important to go above and beyond in disclosures to users.
Plura, which gathers and resells compute power from a distributed grid of 50,000 individual machines (nodes, in our language), was also involved in the controversy because Plura is being used as part of the Digsby application (Digsby is a Plura affiliate).
For more about how Plura works, see here.
We are invested in this situation first because we share an investor with Plura. We have also been both a beta user for Plura from the early stages, and one of their biggest customers. We’re obviously biased because we’re sister companies, but Plura is as white hat as they come, and we’re big believers in the service they provide.
What does it mean that we are a Plura customer?
Basically, we get our raw computing power from Plura. Our own IP centers around Web-scale crawling and processing, and our goal is to fundamentally democratize Web-scale crawling and processing, making it easy to use and available to anyone. But we are essentially “powered by Plura” – they do the heavy Web-scale lifting, and we focus on what we do best – finding and storing information about Web content, with accuracy and speed.
We’re agnostic in the sense that we could eventually decide to build our own, stand-alone supercomputer, for example, to power 80legs. But the purpose of the post is to voice our support for Plura. Plura provides a high-quality service at an exceptionally affordable rate. We would not have been able to get the 80legs service off the ground as quickly as we have had it not been for Plura.
Furthermore, Plura’s goal is essentially our own – the democratization of Web-scale capabilities of many kinds.
It’s also not lost on us that Plura is and may continue to be a somewhat controversial service, because it is taking a proven non-proft model (think SETI@Home, etc.) and turning it into a for-profit business.
Although the concept isn’t new, the trust barrier rose quite a bit, and for good reason. We think that Plura is a sound organization, and we feel confident that they will be successful in building a brand and a service based on trust.
We also really like the idea that Plura offers a new, supplementary revenue stream to startups – especially in today’s economic climate, that’s a welcome development.
If you have questions about Plura and/or our experiences working with them, please don’t hesitate!