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Online Calendar Draws Enterprise Interest

83degrees' aims its free collaborative calendar at small businesses
Setting up plans for the weekend often involves a game of phone tag. Wouldn't it be easier to log on to a Web-based calendar to check your friends' plans, see who's free for lunch, click on a drop-down menu to invite them, and then click one more time for directions to the restaurant?

Those are just some of the capabilities of 30boxes, a free online "social calendar" developed by 83degrees, a startup launched last fall by the same trio who created Webshots, an online photo-sharing site that was acquired in 2004 by CNET Networks for $70 million. 30boxes premiered in early February, and by mid-March more than 30,000 people had downloaded the program. The software's main users are consumers, but the program also is aimed at small businesses looking for a simple way to coordinate events, meetings, and networking among employees, says Narendra Rocherolle, principal and co-founder of 83degrees.

"It's for people who haven't kept a calendar on a computer, let alone online," he says. "It's an easy way for people to share parts of their lives."

Although 30boxes is free now, Rocherolle and his partners are investigating ways to generate revenue, including nominal subscription fees and advertising. For in- stance, the company could forge deals with restaurants and other businesses that want to send personalized ads to users based on their location, tastes, or plans.

What's the future of 83degrees? Venture funds have shown inter- est; another option might be someday to sell the company to a tech vendor looking for a calendaring product.

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