the history of chaco communications
in 1993, a small company named Software Transformation was purchased by Novell. It was really a heady experience... to go from a struggling start-up to working for a huge company with big name recognition.
Unfortunately, our purchase by Novell came with some internal politics. After we were purchased, Novell didn't do anything with us. It was like being called for duty, and then left without marching orders.
Our product was a software platform that allowed GUI applications to be recompiled for Windows, Macintosh, and Unix. A rumor went around that Bill Gates had offered Novell continued inclusion in Windows if they killed our product. (We had a lot of time to wonder.) We sat around, coded a little, and played games. Several of us were addicted to text-based virtual reality games, called MUDs . They were like MMORPGs , but text-only. Imagine the old Adventure or Zork games, but with other people wandering around (and occasionally picking your pocket.)
Finally, and pretty much simultaneously, we all left. Most of the company went with Doug Donzelli (our former CEO) to join NetManage . Five of us decided to take a different path.
We imagined a graphic front end for MUDs, one that would use mark-up similar to the new-fangled HTML that had just started showing up. So we started a company to make it happen.
And we did, in the winter of 1994. Pueblo was our first product, a MUD client that was GUI, friendly, and included a Yahoo-style directory of MUDs. People loved it. Some MUDs started adding Pueblo mark-up. We were working on a 3D engine too, so that you could see the world in three wonderful dimensions! We even wrote a very cute Hello Kitty chat space (with avatars) for NTT Japan.
But we forgot to do one thing... a business plan. We had a great product, but had never figured out how we would make money from the product.
Then we got lucky. Tim O'Reilly had a great personalization technology, called Collaborative Filtering . He even had patents. He had executive types. But he didn't have a development team. We were a development team. So Chaco became LikeMinds.
We continued working, this time focussing on personalization. We had a great site that would make movie recommendations, including for couples. We had customers using our technology. Life was pretty good.
But we weren't growing very quickly. We met some guys up the street who were doing web site monitoring tools, measuring traffic. They were called Andromedia, and they thought we would fit well alongside their product. So we merged, and LikeMinds became Andromedia.
Along came Macromedia. They were interested in getting into server technology, and had purchased Allaire (ColdFusion.) They thought we would be a good fit. And so Andromedia became part of Macromedia. (There were jokes about only having to change 3 letters on the sign.)
Now Macromedia is Adobe. Two of us are still working there. The others have moved on to other interests. You can learn more about what the Chaco core team is doing at our 'where are they now' page.