In the car with my mom last weekend she asked me what “the cloud” actually is.
“Basically, from what I know, it’s just someone else’s computer,” I answered, which is sort of what I’ve memorized. But we can do better than that, and last week I talked to the cofounder of an exciting Brooklyn cloud computing company that’s trying to reconceptualize the way we use computers.
“‘The Cloud’ is a term that’s been totally coopted by a lot of marketing money,” Paperspace cofounder Dillon Erb told Technical.ly Brooklyn. “I think it’s a very powerful thing that abstracts some very powerful technologies.”
The Dumbo-based Paperspace just raised $2.8 million in funding. Its tagline: “Your entire computer, in the cloud.”
Paperspace is the answer to two trends: more-powerful internet and less-powerful laptops.
With 15 full-time employees split between Brooklyn and remote, the company provides heavy-duty computing power for professional-level users. From any device, you can access your desktop on Paperspace, equipped with as much RAM, as fast a processor and whatever other specs you need. Paperspace actually records the user’s keystrokes and mouseclicks, executes the commands and then plays back a stream of the desktop to the user. The goal, Erb said, is to achieve that playback with a lag of less than 60 milliseconds, the industry standard for video games, where the user is unable to notice a delay.
Both Erb and cofounder Daniel Kobran came from the world of architecture, where 3D modeling and huge programs make high processing power necessary.
“If you go into an architect’s office you’re not going to see Chromebooks; you’re going to see big-ass towers,” Erb said. “The desktop computer remains a very useful paradigm for interacting with very powerful tools.”
There’s two trends that Erb and Paperspace are noticing: the internet is getting more powerful and devices are getting less powerful.
“I just bought a little MacBook that has like a 1.2 Ghz processor and it’s crazy that four years after I bought my last one, it’s less powerful than that one was,” he said.
But this is the opportunity he sees for his company. There is no real reason to have a ton of computing power under your desk or in your laptop if it can be stored and maintained somewhere else for way less money.
Erb said he and Kobran chose Brooklyn over San Francisco for a number of reasons, including that Brooklyn is closer to their families and relationships, that it’s “better” and that the companies and users that would be their market — the media, finance, etc. — are nearby.
Though he’s been at it for more than two years Erb still struggled to explain to his dad exactly what his cloud computing company did. Then his dad got it one day.
“The one that got my dad recently was, there used to be Blockbuster and now there’s Netflix and we’re the Netflix of computers.”