Jolicloud Pivots Again, Now As A Start Page For Cloud Services — Have they Cracked It This Time?

“Never give up, never surrender” is the pull out quote from Galaxy Quest, and it’s an actual phrase Jolicloud founder Tariq Krim used to describe the re-launch of the re-launch of the pivot of the cloud-based ‘social aggregation service. Ok, OK, that’s unkind and you’ve got to give the guy a hand – he keeps going. This is a mission-focused entrepreneur if ever you’ve seen one. But it’s fair to say Jolicloud has had a few changes in direction and one might even say it’s about to pivot so hard it’s beginning to resemble the startup Krim became known for first, Netvibes, a start page. To explain: Jolicloud started as a Linux distribution, even sold laptops at one point, then launched a cloud service aggregating all your social accounts, and now it’s changing again to become a kind of merger between a desktop in the cloud, and a home/start page for your all your cloud accounts, from Twitter to Dropbox. They call this a ‘Start page for your cloud life’ and say this latest move is based on what users have told the they want, including the 4 million who downloaded their Linux distro.

Is this bringing it all back to the Netvibes model all over again? Not quite. But it is fair to say that they recognised that while Jolicloud was a nice service to have it wasn’t really fulfilling its promise as a true aggregator of social accounts, and a place where you could find everything you are already connected to. All this was actually inside Jolicloud before, but the new interface surfaces all the stuff that was essentially put into individual silos before. This is exactly the right move, and we may well now see Jollicloud break out into much wider adoption – assuming everything goes to plan.

The new Jolicloud will give you dashboard access to information from your Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and Skydrive accounts, as well as any social account you plug in. This can be pretty handy. If MySpace ever goes out of business, for instance, whatever ‘collection’ you made of your stuff on Jolicloud will still exist. The same goes for a number of other services. They were doing this before – but now it’s probably much more scalable and user friendly.

“The pain of the cloud is fragmentation, but fragmentation is freedom. The ability to have all your stuff in different places is the ability to have choice. So we’re giving people access to freedom of choice,” Krim told me at Dublin Web Summit. “The Cloud is like the music industry – you have major labels and indie labels,” he says which is a good analogy e.g you can now have your Instapaper (an ‘indie’) and your Google Drive (a ‘major label’) all in one place.

“We took everything and decided to refocus and do one thing and do it the best. It’s more than a desktop in the cloud, it’s your entry point,” Krim says.

Jolicloud has also had 4 million downloads for its OS version and is big amongst school kids effectively recycling old laptops as ‘Jolibooks’, says Krim. They may do something with that traction at some point, perhaps in the education field.

But for now, it’s very much ‘keep on keeping on’ for Jolicloud. Never giving up.

The $4.2 million total it’s raised from Atomico and Mangrove Capital Partners in 2009 is clearly going to have to see this latest ‘pivot’ – if you can call it that – out. But it’s clearly the right move to make.

Picture, credit @papadimitriou