SkyRider, A New P2P Start Up Emerges

Peer-to-peer (P2P) networking is once again catching the imagination of the venture capital community in Silicon Valley. RedSwoosh, BitTorrent, Pando, and dozens of others have come out with different twists on the core concept of peer-to-peer networking, and have raised millions. SkyRider, a Mountain View, Calif.-based start up is the latest to join the party, having raised $8 million from white shoe venture funds, Sequoia Capital and Charles River Ventures.

SkyRider was started by telecom veterans Ori Cohen and Stas Khirman (also co-founders of packet inspection company, Narus and VDOnet) in 2003, and has operated in stealth mode, finessing a new peer to peer networking platform. The company is keeping mum about its technology and strategy, and will offer its first product in Fall 2006.

“We are developing a commercial grade P2P networking platform, which we will offer to other companies,” says Ed Kozel, CEO of SkyRider, who previously had worked for Cisco Systems and Yahoo! He says that the four big P2P networks – Gnutella, Ares, Kazaa and eDonkey – continue to grow in popularity, yet there has been very little innovation around these networks. They are essentially used for swapping either music or video files.

Amongst other issues around these networks is that they still remain silos. SkyRider, has developed amongst other things a technology that will allow it to act almost like a bridge between those networks. By doing so, the company is opening up an opportunity for cross platform search – rather better P2P keyword search. According to some estimates there are 12 million simultaneous P2P users on the P2P networks, and there are nearly half-a-billion queries on these networks. That, according to ComScore data, it close to the number of daily searches on Google and Yahoo.

The big opportunity, Kozel says, is to bring the web-like ease to the P2P networks, and looking beyond video and music file sharing. SkyRider also has plans to apply P2P technology to user-generated content.