6 years ago, Romain and I, surrounded by one of the most dedicated teams ever, started a new platform called Jolicloud.
A platform for the digital “have not”
We designed a beautiful and free alternative to Macs and PCs using the web as the only interface.
We couldn’t build our own laptop at the time, so we made our OS available for download on our website.
Soon, our product was embraced by early adopters around the world. Sometimes people were so excited that they would buy a netbook just to be part of our adventure.
Jolicloud was very innovative. We introduced a lot of innovations that you now find today in other services. We did iCloud before iCloud and Chrome OS before Chrome OS. It was simple, it was easy, and many users started to give away their Jolicloud netbooks to their parents, grandparents and kids so they could live in the cloud too.
It’s a privilege to be part of a new social computer experiment, and seeing user adoption around the world.
Soon we started to become indispensable in the lives of our users.
Public Schools with no budgets recycling their oldest computers, ruined farmers from the midwest, users in Africa or in Egypt during the Arab spring. They all sent us messages to tell us how Jolicloud changed their life.
It was an incredible, but also an impossible challenge.
Every day would teach us how hard it is to change the status quo in the world of computers.
Our own government would consistently dismiss our platform in favor of US based competitors.
No hardware partner would take the risk of building our computer (except Vye, a great company in the UK who collaborated with us on the Jolibook).
And soon, we would be in competition with the highly trained PR machines from Google and Mozilla, announcing two years after us their own web based OS.
Maintaining an independent infrastructure has a cost, and last year I decided to stop our operating system to focus on our web platform.
Stopping our best product and turning our back to our most loyal users was the most difficult business decision I have ever made. But we didn’t have the ability to build a good and modern OS anymore.
Everyday, I would regret it. I would be sad. It felt like losing a bit of our identity. And the work on our product started to look more like a web app than a platform.
And yesterday I decided I wanted to change that.
Competing in this new mobile centric world with a web only product is a challenge, but it’s also a gift.
Don’t ever forget that the web belongs to no one. It belongs to everyone!
With Jolicloud, we had a dream of being the last European platform, resisting the common idea that the brand of your device defines what you can or cannot do with your digital life.
But also, we always wanted to build a platform that cares deeply about its users, not using their data and selling their usage patterns to advertisers. We wanted to build a place where we feel at home and can simply access, enjoy, and share our favorite content.
Like for food or music, we believe that being smaller, careful and different can be better.
Since we launched our paid version of Drive, I was surprised by the amount of people who purchased our yearly plan right away.
I decided to talk with some of them, and they told me “oh, we like the Jolicloud spirit, keep up the good work!”
I was blown away.
Over 6 years, we have “infected” more than 1.4 million souls with our passion for doing something different.
And I think today it’s time to come back to that spirit, to that original idea.
To amaze you again
But today it’s not about becoming the alternative to the mega giant offerings. It’s about creating and designing the world we want to live in. With our own rules and a truly open experience.
If we started Jolicloud today, we would not need to build a new OS. Instead, we would take advantage of the fantastic progress that occurred over the last 6 years. Our mobile devices are faster than the netbooks we had when we started. Extending the web on your TV, or using a Chromebook to connect to your home stereo are things we can do just by using web technologies. I am sure even crazier things are possible.
I am already working with my team to figure out a way to use and “hack” this existing web infrastructure and find a new home for Jolicloud inside our most used devices.
In addition to that, we are already looking at how we will connect Jolicloud to all the new available hardware and to the Internet of things.
The web is not dead, it’s just hidden in all the devices we use, and together we can resurface it and use it to do cool things again.
Oh yes, I just wanted to say one more thing to all our users: We love you!