Huddle Takes Top Prize At Microsoft's SharePoint SocialFest

Last week, Microsoft invited seven BizSpark startups from around the world to a special event called the SharePoint 2010 SocialFest. Each company was invited to spend the week working in close collaboration with Microsoft SharePoint team members, as they tried to take their existing products and see how they could be used to leverage SharePoint. The event culminated in a demo day on Friday, when each startup showed off what they’d managed to put together in the preceding four days and a panel of judges chose the best one.

Here’s a video with Lynda Ting, Microsoft’s Director of Business Development, Emerging Business Team, explaining the goals of the program:

Cortex Intelligence
Cortex began as a text mining company, and spent the last five years perfecting its ability to automatically identify places, entities, companies, and other important pieces of text, making it easy to sift through large volumes of data. The company has also built sentiment analysis into its technology. For this competition, Cortex built tools that would allow a SharePoint user to automatically import tweets, blog posts, etc. based on their search criteria. For example, I could use the tool to run a persistent search on my company’s name and pull those results into SharePoint.

Calinda Software
Calinda looks to help companies more efficiently communicate by changing the way they use Email, looking to do away with the endless replies, CCs, and confusing chains of messages. To help, Calinda allows you to generate a map of these messages, allowing you to see at a glance who is sending what, and to whom. The company’s SharePoint integration allows you to pull these maps into your SharePoint hub. You don’t need to install any software to get this working with your email client.

Confer is a communications platform for companies that includes features like microblogging, status updates, and real time chat (some of this functionality can be seen in software like Campfire and Yammer). The company offers a click-to-call service, including audio recording of conversations and transcriptions, much as you’d find with Google Voice. For the SocialFest, Confer integrated much of this functionality into SharePoint.

Huddle, which took the top prize at the competition, is designed to help companies collaborate with their partners — its mission is to be the “world’s best online B2B collaboration platform”. The service, which launched in 2007, allows companies to share files, organize meetings, and collaborate even when they are not operating within the same firewall. For its SharePoint integration, the company allows separate SharePoints to link together, bridging corporate firewalls while still maintaining the permissions and other rules that have been established by each company.

Leverage Software
Leverage Software builds social networks for the enterprise. This week, one of its goals was to build something to help companies collaborate, without forcing them to expend extra energy to use their collaboration platform. The product is called DesignSpaces, and it analyzes your Emails and extracts relevant data, like attachments and events, which it then organizes for you. In the future, coworkers can look through the workspace to find older attachments, message threads, and so on. The company has a number of Fortune 500 companies as customers, and around 1 million people using the platform.

Liaise, which we’ve covered before, is a service that allows you to automatically extract meeting information, to-dos, events, and other key data from Emails with a minimal amount of effort on the user’s part. With its SharePoint integration, Liaise can feed this information into your SharePoint site so you don’t have to manually enter dates, commitments, and other information.

Loqu8 allows you to integrate immediate data lookup into your computing experience (it’s a bit like those integrated dictionary browser extensions). But it allows companies to build their own lexicons as reference, which makes it easier for employees to understand company-specific buzzwords and acronyms.  Using SharePoint, the service can pull in supporting data from databases, Excel spreadsheets, and other files.