My Own Private Online
Local techie ready to launch first privatized Internet.
Thursday, June 1, 2006
Perhaps the simplest way to describe George Sidman’s most recent capital venture is with a comparison between two types of communities. One is a free-wheeling and untamed city, full of exciting opportunities and unseen dangers. That’s today’s World Wide Web.
The other is a private, gated community where all who enter are required to sign-in, and where their actions once inside are closely monitored. This gated community represents WebLOQ (webloq.com), a virtual private Internet that is Sidman’s latest entrepreneurial incarnation.
In the fall, Sidman and his small legion of techmasters will unveil WebLOQ to the public. Designed for Web users fatigued by the never-ending barrage of spam and fearing identity theft, WebLOQ will charge users $9.95 a year to join a privately-run Internet. In return, they’ll receive an e-mail account and access to an increasing number of services as long as they abstain from illegal and/or annoying behavior. WebLOQ is unique, Sidman explains, because it will not tolerate spammers, phishers of credit card numbers, or virus spreaders.
“More than $50 billion is being lost to online fraud every year,” says Sidman, the company’s chairman who is careful not to reveal too many details about how his private Internet system will work. “In today’s Internet, phishers are harvesting other people’s e-mail addresses and personal information and then sending out fraudulent e-mails on a mass scale. So we shut that down in WebLOQ, where private e-mail addresses won’t be seen from the open Internet.”
In theory, spammers who use WebLOQ will be easily traced to their WebLOQ account, which they’ll need to send messages to other WebLOQ users.
While the start-up company is working with large financial institutions to secure their information exchanges online, Sidman hopes that daily Internet users and small businesses will also rely on WebLOQ.
“Twenty percent of Internet users utilize the Web for business purposes,” Sidman says. “They spend an average of $60 per year on firewalls and other software to protect their data. These people are our target customers.”
Neal Smith is president of WebLOQ. In about a month, the company will move out of Sidman’s garage in Carmel Woods and into an office space at Ryan Ranch. “There is nothing like this technology on the Internet today,” Smith says.
On June 1, Sidman will talk about WebLOQ to up-and-coming Peninsula entrepreneurs at the Marina Technology Cluster’s monthly TechNet reunion. Sidman is an advisory board member for the technology cluster, which helps small businesses—especially tech-oriented ones—grow.
GEORGE SIDMAN TALKS TECHNET 5-7pm Thursday, June 1, at UC MBEST Center, 3180 Imjin Rd., Marina. $20 donation. 582-9718.