Startup company Telleo creating Internet-based community 'cyberhoods'

EVERYONE IN THE United States with phone service can have his or her own free Web site, thanks to Telleo, a San Jose, Calif.-based startup.

Using public phone records, the company has created a database that lets users access the company's Web site, enter their phone number and area code, and "claim" their own individual Web page. The page can then be personalized and viewed by anyone with Internet access, according to Sharon McCarthy, Telleo's vice president of marketing.

Although Telleo will make its official announcement February 20, the service is already live nationally, with more than 100 million Web sites tied to the phone numbers of 85 million individuals and 15 million businesses. Focus groups are currently studying the usage behavior in two test areas: Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis, McCarthy said.

Internet access to the sites makes the service global, but the initial business model is local, and Telleo hopes to create what McCarthy called "cyberhoods."

Using area code and address information, Telleo has placed links on each Web page to help users navigate to community bulletin boards, businesses, and other local services.

Businesses can post discount coupons and upload their service offerings, daily specials, or other information.

"With this service you can actually access just the delis in your area, click on, say, Joe's Deli, and if Joe has claimed his Web site, he can put up his menu," McCarthy said.

Phone customers with unlisted numbers or unlisted addresses can still claim their free Web page, but they won't have the local business and community links unless they provide Telleo with either their address or area code information.

McCarthy said Telleo will only charge a fee to companies or individuals posting for-profit ads, such as store coupons or reseller offers. She said the cost of an online coupon through the Telleo service is less expensive than print advertising, which often reaches far beyond a company's target trading area.

"This service gives users the capability to communicate with people directly in their neighborhood or with local businesses," McCarthy said. "If you are a new mom and you need to find new moms in the neighborhood, you could message people or use the local links to find other groups of moms."

Users concerned about being instant messaged by an unknown neighbor asking to borrow a cup of sugar shouldn't worry, McCarthy said. The communication service is e-mail-only, and Web site URLs are configured from the user's phone number, making a cold-call inquiry to a stranger the equivalent of an incorrectly dialed phone number.

Bracing itself for traffic over the network, which hosts all of the free Web sites, Telleo has a system designed for 4,000 simultaneous page views per second using eight IBM RS/6000 servers, officials said.

This story, "Startup company Telleo creating Internet-based community 'cyberhoods'" was originally published by InfoWorld.


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