If you studied your ancient Web history, you may remember PointCast, which pushed Web content (feeds prior to RSS) to a user's screen. In its prime during 1996, PointCast had more than 200 employees, 1.5 million users, nearly $50 million in venture funding and even some revenue. By 2000, PointCast faded into history.
Today, the concept behindPointCast comes back in a new startup, Chirp Interactive, which calls itself a "leading provider of social applications that leverage the power of open networks" without having delivered any product, introduced Chirpscreen. It's a screen saver that gathers content from friends, such as photos and status updates from Flickr and Facebook. Chirpscreen is available now in public beta, without ads.
It's more useful than an aquarium or flying toasters, but I don't see myself sitting back staring at my screen as the feeds come in. Perhaps I don't take the time to sit back and watch feeds show up to keep up with what friends are churning out as a way "empower us to be even closer and more connected with our friends," as Chirp CEO Eve Phillips described the utility of the screen saver. I am more of a lean in user, and more prone to use a personal portal such as Netvibes, Pageflakes, MyYahoo or desktop widgets to aggregate feeds and activity streams.
The company has a good pedigree with seed funding from Greylock Partners (Phillips, formerly of Greylock) and Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC, as well as angels Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn, Facebook), Jay Adelson (Digg), and Dave Samuel (founder of Spinner.com and Grouper). The amount of funding was not disclosed.