Andy Halliday: media for all of life’s memories

The problem of memory has long vexed Andy Halliday.

The 52-year-old founder of Mountain View firm OurStory Inc. for a long time wanted to start a company to help people overcome the loss of their precious life histories. Now, he hopes the company’s Web service, http://www.ourstory.com, will go beyond simple blogging into a medium to deepen family ties.

“Life’s full of these incredible moments and memories and insights and thoughts. But as time goes on, you let them slip away,” he said. “I wanted something that was easy to use. Behind it was a little bit of fear that I would forget.”

Like social networking Web sites, OurStory allows people to write entries and upload images, including photos and letters, as well as video. But unlike other sites, the site organizes entries into a timeline — a life story. In addition, users’ stories are largely off-limits to people who are not invited to be part of their circle, and collaboration with that circle on institutional or family histories is encouraged. There is both a free and a premium version. The latter and some yet-to-be-launched book-making partnerships with printers, including San Francisco’s Memento Press, provide the OurStory revenue.

OurStory launched at the end of May and has around 13,000 registered users to date, Halliday said.

Among them is Halliday, who is collaborating with his sister to produce the life story of his father, William Halliday, in words, pictures and one poignant letter in which Andy’s mother introduces herself to William as a distant relation and possible friend.

Other collaborators on joint projects include the various members of the MossLanding Marine Labs on the California coast and a coalition of people who work with terminally ill children.

The process of creating a sort of virtual scrapbook of his father’s life with his far-flung sister had a profound impact on their connection, Halliday said.

“This deepens relationships with people who you are communicating with in this way. I have a relationship with my sister now I’ve never had before,” he said.

Halliday previously held executive positions with Edison Brothers Stores, Simon Brand Ventures, Excite’s Electronic Commerce Group, contact.com, and In-Q-Tel.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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