[FoRK] Teleplace gone; 3D ICC steps in to help customers

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sun Dec 25 02:58:15 PST 2011


Teleplace gone; 3D ICC steps in to help customers

By Maria Korolov

First of all, an apology.

In May, we wrote that Redwood City, California-based virtual worlds company
Teleplace, Inc. open sourced its platform in order to grow its market — and
that the company would continue to offer paid hosting and support, and
continue working on new features.

At least, that was what Teleplace CEO Tony Nemelka told us.

But what happened instead is that, that very same month, the company laid off
most of its staff, outsourced its support, and began taking other steps to
shut down the company entirely.

Last week, vendors got notices that the company was liquidating, and the
company’s website was no longer active.

Teleplace is now dead, completely dead, an ex-company. Its metabolic
processes are a matter of interest only to historians.

But it’s software continues to live on as OpenQwaq — and, even better,
development is continuing.

Since Teleplace released its software as open source, any vendor has been
able to run it on their servers and offer hosting to customers. But the
vendor that has been doing the most is 3D Immersive Collaboration Consulting,
LLC, or 3D ICC.

Julie LeMoine

“We have advanced the baseline beyond where Teleplace had OpenQwaq,” 3D ICC
CEO Julie LeMoine told Hypergrid Business.

For example, Nemelka told me that Teleplace had a Web viewer in the works —
normally, users have to download separate software.

Well, 3D ICC actually built the viewer, LeMoine said, and it’s already
available to customers as a proprietary browser plugin for Internet Explorer.

“OpenQwaq is still in place and well due to the work 3D ICC is doing,” she

In addition, 3D ICC has begun to provide support and hosting to many former
Teleplace customers, and has added new customers, she said.

“We are the Red Hat to OpenQwaq, if you will,” she said.  Prices and services

3D ICC provides fully hosted OpenQwaq environments for its customers, both
shared and dedicated. In addition, customers can also download the software
and run it on their own servers.

3D ICC also provides support.

And the prices are 40 percent of what Teleplace used to charge, she said.

Which, according to what Teleplace told us, was $50 per user per month for
the hosted version and $100 per user per month for support for the
on-premises software — according to Nemelka, much more support was required
when companies ran the software themselves, instead of letting Teleplace do

Avatars collaborating in the Teleplace environment. (Image courtesy
Teleplace.) She liked it so much she launched a company

LeMoine originally learned about Teleplace while she was a vice president for
advanced collaboration and engineering research at Fidelity Investments.

“I worked with every immersive world an enterprise could work in — from
Project Wonderland [now Open Wonderland] to Second Life to ProtoSphere.”

She decided she liked Teleplace’s system the best, she said.

Teleplace is a high-end product, designed for enterprises, and includes many
back end features needed by large companies, such as support for corporate
directories and Sharepoint integration. In addition to Fidelity, customers
included Chevron, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force, and Stanford
University. According to Teleplace, there were hundreds of enterprise

LeMoine herself has a long history of working on enterprise technology. In
addition to her recent five-year stint at Fidelity, she was president and CEO
of UCHow, Inc., a collaboration software company, for six years.

And LeMoine’s high-tech background goes all the way back to ARPANet — she
established security standards, guidelines and protocols while at MITRE in
the late 1980s and in the 1990s. MITRE manages federally funded research and
development centers for the defense department.

And she’s not the only high-powered staffer at 3D ICC.

Ron Teitelbaum, formerly the immersive 3D virtual world specialist at
Teleplace, is now the 3D immersive collaboration expert at 3D ICC. Andreas
Raab has also moved over — he used to be a system architect at Teleplace.

They also have David Smith on the board of advisors, the guy who originally
created the Open Croquet platform that Teleplace built upon.

3D ICC is a completely separate company from Teleplace, LeMoine said.
However, as a result of providing support service to Teleplace customers
behind the scenes, those clients were already familiar with its services when
Teleplace closed down.

And 3D ICC won’t be brought down by the same issues as Teleplace was, she
promised. “We don’t have any funding problems at all.”

“Teleplace missed a round of funding, and when you’re that size, and you miss
a round, you close the doors,” she explained. “It was a glitch. It was a
funding glitch. They were a good company, they had customers. It was such a
horrible thing to happen.” About Maria Korolov Maria Korolov is editor and
publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than
twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and
Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia
and China. Follow Maria on Twitter • Facebook • LinkedIn View all articles by
Maria Korolov Email |Website

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    http://www.hypergridbusiness.com Maria Korolov

    And to give credit where credit’s due — the original inspiration for me
to start tracking this down was Karl Kapp, who wondered about whatever
happened to Teleplace. And then Alphaville Herald, which wrote about the
http://www.facebook.com/people/Serendipity-Seraph/100000693617592 Serendipity

    Hmm. 40% of ridiculous is still ridiculous.  The pricing structure of
Teleplace was outrageous.  When I saw it I doubted they had a future.  I’m
really glad the software lives on.   I don’t for the life of me see what
makes it “high end”.  I mean cheap cardboard avatars sliding instead of
walking?  So there is a way to present slides and other application windows?
This should not be that hard to do from any application window using media on
a prim in opensim and SL.  So what exactly does OpenKwaq offer that makes it
“high end”.  It seems not very compelling the few times I have been at such
an event.  http://www.hypergridbusiness.com Maria Korolov

    I was also disappointed with their avatars when I had a tour — but this
is a problem with many business-oriented environments. What makes it high end
are very detailed security policies, integration with corporate directories,
Sharepoint support, automatic avatar provisioning, application sharing,
document sharing, etc… Teleplace didn’t fold because the prices were too high
— corporations were happy to pay the prices, and the company was growing. And
for these types of customers, good-looking avatars were not at the top of any
must-have lists.

    This is not an environment you would use to create a virtual world, in
the sense that Second Life or OpenSim grids are virtual worlds. It’s not an
environment for socializing and games, and is missing elements that would
support those kinds of activities.

    It’s mostly an environment for corporate training, collaboration, and

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