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Microsoft Spins Off ZenZui

Microsoft this week announced the launch of ZenZui, an independent company partially funded by Microsoft created to market ZenZui's Zooming User Interface, which was patented by Microsoft and was first developed in the Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Research lab.

The company was started under the auspices of Microsoft's IP Ventures, which "helps startups and growing companies speed their time to market through access to Microsoft innovations," according to a Microsoft statement. ZenZui partnered with IP Ventures to help secure the venture capital funding needed to launch the company.

According to a Microsoft press release, "ZenZui's high-frame rate Zooming User Interface employs up to 36 individual 'tiles' that are selected and customized by users to reflect their interests and lifestyle with relevant content, interactive communications and fresh data." ZenZui's founders are convinced that this modular tile interface will let users sync, surf, and share digital content "quickly, easily and in a distinctly new way."

Companies who will participate in the initial trial of the service include Kayak.com, OTOlabs, Avenue A/Razorfish and Traffic.com

Microsoft launched the IP Ventures program in May 2005 "to expedite the commercialization of new innovations the company's significant R&D investment," the statement said.

Eric Hertz, chief executive officer of ZenZui, came on board from Western Wireless, where he was COO. Vice president of products and services and co-founder John SanGiovanni came from Microsoft Research,

Benjamin Bederson, vice president of client technologies and another co-founder, is an associate professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park. Meanwhile, a third co-founder, Jim Cooley, who serves as the vice president of engineering, came from 11 years on Microsoft product development and had worked for IP Ventures prior to found ZenZui.

Meanwhile, Cindy Spodek Dickey, vice president of marketing, spent more than ten years in consumer product marketing at Microsoft, and worked on Xbox and Xbox 360, Xbox Live, MSN Direct, MSN.com and multiple consumer software titles.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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