Tech Giants and Their Little-Known Side Projects

You’ve heard the line, I’m sure. You probably even heard a song or two about it. “Great things start from small beginnings.” Now, you roll your eyes and say, “Yeah, whatever. Now what?” Well, here’s what. In this article, we’re going to be flipping that line to read: “Small beginnings start from great things.” Unbelievable? Not quite. The thing is, we will be introducing five small apps from giant tech companies, which, for the most part, are either side projects or acquisitions by these tech behemoths or the people behind them.

1. Microsoft – Leafully.com

Windows user or not, if you haven’t heard of Microsoft, that Bill Gates-powered company virtually monopolizing the PC OS space, I honestly don’t know where you’ve been all this time. And then, there’s Bing, the search engine a lot of people claim to be second fiddle to Google, or Yahoo. Whichever, take your pick. It’s an all-out war among those three, but non-Google proponents will argue there doesn’t have to be a war, that at the end of the day, it all boils down to the user’s freedom to determine which works best for him.

Recently, Timothy Edgar and Tim Jhaveri from Bing’s search engine team, launched a side project called Leafully, an app that presents a complicated subject as energy units through a concept even young children would understand – trees. Energy consumption and carbon footprint reduction are given to you in terms of trees, and through Facebook, you get to compare your energy usage and savings with friends.

2. Google – Prizes.org

I’m going to have to concur, Google is the #1 search engine of choice by majority of Internet users. And Google, like I know you know, is not just a search engine. Google is Google Maps, GMail, AdWords, Adsense, DoubleClick, Google Docs, YouTube, Google Plus, just to name a few from its laundry list of awesome apps.

Now, over there at Google, there’s this service called Prizes.org, a by-product of Google’s previous acquisition of Slide, the social app co-founded by PayPal’s Max Levchin. What’s remarkable about Prizes.org is the fact that it has, so far, emerged victorious where Google has failed – Google Answers. For a small app like Prizes.org, that’s saying something, yeah?

3. Bitrix – Bitrix24.com

WordPress, Joomla, Drupal – these are just three content management system (CMS) applications some people use on a regular basis. But if you care to ask them about Bitrix, the world’s largest commercial CMS (i.e., paid CMS) maker, they’d think you’re talking alien speak.

Just recently, Bitrix launched Bitrix24.com, a free-for-small-businesses (defined as maximum of 12 people) social enterprise application that brings together features similar to Yammer for social workplace, DropBox for file management, SalesForce for CRM, BaseCamp for project management, Facebook for likes and some other tools that may leave you wondering, “Why are they giving it all away for free?”

4. YCombinator – HackerNews

In the venture capital arena, YCombinator may not be the largest, but in the “startup bootcamp” category, it is probably the most widely known. Founder Paul Graham’s philosophy is fairly simple: What they need are advice and connections, not money.

Graham’s personal project, HackerNews is a social news site about startup companies and computer-related stuff. HackerNews has been established for the purpose of creating a community just like those old Reddit days to upgrade the declining standards in behavior and discourse on the wider Internet. Looking good, so far.

5. Apple – Chomp.com

When talking about tech giants, we won’t do ourselves a favor if we leave out Apple. Apple is synonymous to Steve Jobs, and Steve Jobs is synonymous to Pixar, the animation studio he co-founded and led as CEO. But Pixar has also become synonymous to Walt Disney, being now a Walt Disney company, and since this article is about small side projects/acquisitions, is much too big to make the cut.

Chomp.com is an Apple search engine specifically designed for app search. Chomp.com understands what a user needs to find and knows what apps are all about, thereby creating the perfect match.

Article written by

Maricel Rivera is a freelance writer, researcher and marketing professional. She is a regular contributor to various business and technology blogs/publications. She is the blogger behind The Sourcing Pen.

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