• CallTheShots Technology and the Internet
  • Personalization
  • Data Integration
  • Mobile Devices
  • The Benefits of CallTheShots
  • The Competitive Advantage

Section 2 - HISTORY

  • Patents
  • People
  • Financing

Section 3 - TECHNOLOGY

  • Scalable Cluster Architecture
  • Load Balancer
  • CallTheShots Application Server
    • Core Information Extraction
    • Subsystem Recording/Creating
    • Subsystem Data Export and Automation
    • Subsystem Adapters
  • Database
  • The Wireless World


Our Vision
To enable web sites to quickly and easily offer everything to everyone.

Our Mission
To provide easy-to-use services that give large and small web sites the ability to offer an unlimited variety of content, applications, and services to their users.

Praise For CallTheShots Patent-Pending Technology

  • CallTheShots was chosen by Jupiter Communications, Inc. as one of three finalists to unveil our product at the Demo-Finale: Web 2001 in New York City. The competition, part of Jupiter's Consumer Online Forum, was held March 1-3, 2000. Finalists were selected based on uniqueness of their product, magnitude of the product's impact and depth of said impact on Internet businesses. More than 80 companies submitted products for the opportunity to be unveiled before the 1,500+ senior industry executives, key decision-makers, and top-tier media who attended the flagship conference.
  • Calling the deconstruction of HTML "a trend worth watching", ComputerLetter touts CallTheShots as offering" complex web sites a way to let visitors build their own view of content and see only what they want to see." CTS has come up with an algorithm that turns HTML into graphical chunks of information. (Search boxes, chat rooms, game boards, stock tickers and plain text, for example.) A large web site can offer up these 'chunks' for their visitors to drag-and-drop onto a blank HTML template page. Therefore, six click-throughs per chunk now becomes one. And with one click, the world wide web just got smaller.
  • CallTheShots was selected at NDA '99 as one of Red Herring's Top 20 most promising emerging technology companies reflecting their Top 10 Trends for 2000. The technology lets users collect the parts of pages they like and present them together on "combo pages." The service updates your clippings automatically. CallTheShots will allow users to profit from their work by "clipping" affiliate buttons. This marks the beginning of a new trend: highly personal syndication not just of content, but of commerce as well.


CallTheShots (CTS) has developed a fundamental, proprietary, patent-pending technology that enables web sites to offer 'everything to everyone'. CTS's technology has the ability to break apart the Internet into a network of information blocks that can be re-assembled on the fly with a simple point-and-click process; absolutely no coding is required. This ease-of-use and ease of integration allows web sites the opportunity to become 'everything to everyone' without overloading their own engineering resources.

CallTheShots Technology and The Internet
CallTheShots's technology empowers users of the World Wide Web by allowing them to pick and choose not just what sites to visit but what pieces of what sites to visit. Data, streaming technology, applets, forms and applications can all be delivered in real-time with no additional programming on the part of the user or the web site. The ability to break apart the World Wide Web into personally relevant components decreases its complexity and allows it to become something each user can embrace. In the past year, CallTheShots has taken this concept from the drawing board to fully-functional scalable implementation capable of supporting thousands of simultaneous users. We have identified a number of markets that would be particularly suited to CTS's technology:

  1. Personalization - Creating dynamic, personalized pages on a web site incorporating multimedia and text information blocks from the site's partners and, if desired, syndicated content from CallTheShots
  2. Data Integration - Data from any web page can be exported as an XML feed and translated, via XSL, into formats suitable for any web application thus, achieving interoperability between sites without programming.
  3. Mobile Devices - User-selected content can be delivered to web-enabled mobile devices such as Palm Pilots or cellular phones. In addition, changes in the content can trigger notifications which can be sent to an email address, web-enabled phone or alphanumeric pager.

The personalization market (i.e.: adding 'myYahoo'-style functionality to a web site or an intranet) is a particularly appropriate market for CallTheShots. By 2002, 80% of all business web sites will have personalization services and our technology provides the easiest and most comprehensive solution available. We enable users to drag-and-drop all types of information directly from any web site onto a personalized template. By handling dynamic content (such as chat rooms, stock tickers, animation and JavaScript) together with HTML text and images, CTS goes beyond the textual personalization functionality of myYahoo and AltaVista. Our proprietary, patent-pending technology also enables us to provide this personalization capability independent of the architecture of the web site. A business site can continue to grow its content and diversify its partnerships because all of the integration work is done via the service provided by CTS. This solution allows any site to have full personalization capabilities immediately; the site can be delivering a highly customized user experience in days, rather than months. This personalization service helps sites to achieve their business objectives by increasing site "stickiness", user loyalty, and user productivity.

Data Integration
With the increasing use of affiliate and partnership business deals on the Web, the need to integrate and exchange data among disparate sites is growing dramatically. CallTheShots allows data from any HTML web page to be exported as an XML feed. Using XSL, this feed can be transformed into a format suitable for any web application, XML-enabled or not. For example, exporting password-protected data from a number of financial sites and importing that data into a portfolio analysis application can be achieved without any programming. Thus, seamless integration of partner sites with minimal overhead as well as interoperability without programming is made possible.

Mobile Devices
The explosion in the number of mobile devices being used is radically changing the outlook of the technology industry and how information is retrieved. Unfortunately, in order to accommodate the users of mobile devices, most sites will need to re-purpose their content in order for their data to be accessible. In foreseeing this, CallTheShots has made our software synergistic with today's Web-enabled hand-held devices and mobile phones. Once a user has selected a piece of content from a Web site, this piece can be reformatted and delivered to the user's mobile device. Currently, CTS supports Palm and wireless-application protocol (WAP) devices.

CallTheShots also provides asynchronous notifications. After zeroing in on a piece of relevant data, the user can specify various conditions under which he needs to be notified. When these conditions are met, whether it be a numeric condition or a keyword search, CTS will send out an e-mail or mobile device notification. For example, the user may receive an email when a CNN headline contains the keyword "personalization" or get paged when a stock price jumps by 20%.

The Benefits of CallTheShots

  • Dramatically enhanced user experience
    Sites can be personalized based on user interests. For example, a Pokemon fanatic and an antiques collector would each see a different view of the eBay site, catered to their unique interests and needs. This increases user loyalty and site stickiness.
  • Rapidly implemented partnership programs
    Within hours of signing a deal, sites can implement any type of business relationship. For example, a used-car buyer on eBay would automatically see Blue Book prices and safety scores with each car listing once eBay has signed up Kelley Blue Book and Consumer Reports as partners. In fact, the business development people who seal the deals could build this functionality on the spot without any engineering assistance.
  • Instant access to a library of content and services
    As CallTheShots builds up its network of partner sites, it becomes both the marketplace and the delivery vehicle for syndicated content and services. For example, by developing a partnership with, CTS enables to offer its Formula One fans the auto racing best-seller list on without spending any business development or engineering resources.
  • Eliminate performance bottlenecks at the source
    Accessing massive amounts of content for large numbers of users and then customizing it causes scalability problems for a site's servers. CallTheShots takes content customization to the edge of the network much as Akamai has done for standardized content. Multiple user queries for the same information only result in one request to the original web site, reducing site congestion. User page requests go to the closest available CTS server facility in order to give users the fastest possible response times.
  • Turnkey service for quick deployment
    Sites can sign up for CallTheShots-hosted service and start delivering customized content to their users by the next day. Our service is independent of a site's own architecture so no integration is required. Any type of hardwired solution would have taken from weeks to months to implement and could have required extensive re-engineering of the web site.
  • Attractive economics
    The service is priced to be only a fraction of the cost associated with hardwiring the similar functionality piece by piece.

The Competitive Advantage
There are several competitive advantages that create significant barriers to entry for potential competitors:

  1. CallTheShots has filed for three patents covering the entire content handling process and underlying algorithms. Protecting the process makes it very difficult to design around the patents.
  2. CallTheShots' technology has been in development for over two years. Much of the development effort has been spent on adapting the raw technology to real-world web sites with widely varying publishing and data formatting practices. Any future competitor will face these same obstacles and will need to invest significant resources to build a comparable solution.
  3. The most defensible barriers to entry are the switching costs for both web sites and users. For web sites, the functionality created using CallTheShots platform would need to be created from scratch using conventional software tools, a process that could take many weeks to months for each individual application. Since users' personalized settings are tied to the CTS service, an attempt to switch to another service would require users to recreate their settings on the new service. As usage and dependence on CTS service builds over time, this switching cost will become more and more prohibitive. In addition, as more sites join our network and participate as content providers and distributors, the benefit to everyone will increase since CTS becomes not just the delivery mechanism but the marketplace as well.


The research and development of CallTheShots's technology was started by Mark Tsimelzon and Michael Yurovitsky in January, 1998. The company raised the seed round of funding and opened its Santa Clara office in June, 1999. It was founded with the goal of combining two simple yet powerful ideas. The first is that the unit of content on the Internet does not have to be an entire Web page. The second idea is that users should be able to tailor content presentation to their needs without having to write any code. The CTS platform is a new layer of software residing between web sites and their users that allows for the decoupling of content creation, presentation and distribution. The CTS solution is currently being evaluated by more than 30 high-profile internet and media sites.

CallTheShots has filed for the following patents from the United States Department of Commerce, Patent and Trademark Office:

  1. Method and Apparatus for Selecting and Viewing Portions of Web Pages.
  2. Method and Apparatus for Combining Parts of Different Web Pages.
  3. Method and Apparatus for Notifying a User of Changes to Certain Parts of Web Pages.

CallTheShots currently employs eleven people from the technology and marketing industries. Its Board of Directors contains people with connections to top-tier internet companies such as Ebay and Its technical team has prior experience working for industry-leading companies such as Motorola. Oracle, RSA, Xilinx and IBM as well as several start-ups.

CallTheShots is a privately held company that has received one round of financing totaling $1.2 million from Gruber & McBaine Capital Management and angel investors.


The CallTheShots technology allows web sites to extract, transform, exchange and present information. The unit of information on which CTS's technology operates is called an infoblock. Any HTML web page on the Internet or an intranet can be a source of infoblocks. The infoblocks can be extracted in plain text, HTML or XML format and can then be delivered to a variety of devices including standard Web browsers, email programs, Palm-like mobile devices, Web-enabled phones or pagers. The infoblocks are available in real-time, or caching can be enabled for higher performance. Style sheets can also be applied to present the information in the most appropriate and customizable form. In addition, extracted information can be transformed and forwarded as input to another web-based application thus, achieving interoperability of previously unrelated web applications with ease.

CallTheShots technology does not require any engineering integration with the web site. No programming is ever necessary. The following figure depicts how CTS server cluster fits a typical web site environment.

As one can see from the picture, CallTheShots servers sit completely outside of a typical web site. In fact, CTS services can be completely outsourced. This is a major advantage of our technology over competing solutions.

Scalable Cluster Architecture

The CallTheShots technology is typically implemented in a CallTheShots cluster:

The three layers of a CallTheShots cluster are:

  • Load balancer
  • CallTheShots Application servers
  • Database

Load Balancer
The CallTheShots cluster typically uses industry-standard redundant BigIP load balancers from F5 Networks. The load balancer is responsible for sending incoming user requests to the least busy server. To ensure that a user account is only instantiated on one server per session, persistent connections are used. BigIP load balancer is also responsible for monitoring the performance of CTS Application servers. In case of a hardware or a software failure, the load balancer alerts the site administrators through email and pager, and routes incoming requests around the failed server.

CallTheShots Application Server
The heart of the CallTheShots cluster is the CTS Application Server. A cluster can contain from one to hundreds of Application Servers. The CTS Application Server is written from scratch in C++ and currently runs on inexpensive Windows NT dual-Pentium servers. It also uses advanced threading and memory management techniques for better scalability. The architecture of an application server is shown below:

The Application Server consists of four major subsystems:

  1. Core Information Extraction Subsystem
  2. Recording and Creation Subsystem
  3. Data Export and Automation Subsystem
  4. Adapters
  • Core Information Extraction Subsystem
    The Core Information Extraction Subsystem is the foundation on which the rest of the server is built. It is responsible for information extraction from HTML web pages. It contains the implementation of Matching and Extraction Algorithm. This algorithm is responsible for finding pre-specified infoblocks on web pages, even as web pages change over time. This subsystem is also responsible for monitoring web pages for changes. Numeric values can be monitored for specific events ("notify me when this price gets below $90"), and text values can be monitored for specific keywords ("notify me when there is a story about Clinton in the list of headlines"). Notifications can be delivered to a Web-enabled phone, alpha-numeric pager, e-mail, or a web-based interface.

  • Recording and Creation Subsystem
    The Block Detection algorithm can break down any web page into meaningful infoblocks. The site administrator or end user can select infoblocks to include into the data feed using point-and-click interface. In addition, the administrator can create XML markups to tag information being extracted using the same intuitive interface thus, live HTML or XML data feeds can be created without any programming. The Recording and Creation Subsystem implements the Macro Recorder Algorithm. It is responsible for recording user actions required to get to the web page that contains infoblocks being extracted. The algorithm handles logging into accounts, following links, submitting forms, HTTP redirections, frames, cookies, etc. It also handless SSL-protected Web sites.

  • Data Export and Automation Subsystem
    This subsystem is responsible for providing live XML data feeds and for performing XSL transformations to translate the resulting XML into another format; thus, it is possible to create an application which takes data from a number of different web sites, combines it, forwards it as input to another web site and displays the results, all in real time.

  • Adapters
    Once infoblocks are extracted, CallTheShots can present them to the user in many different ways:
    • Internet Explorer and Netscape browsers
      CallTheShots has developed a unique DHTML-based drag-and-drop interface for presenting information from many different web sites on the same page. The user has full control over the block layout, but the site's administrator can enforce a specific look-and-feel. The blocks are also delivered independently of each other so one slow web site will not slow down the loading of an entire customized page.
    • Palm-like mobile devices
      CallTheShots server recognizes when a request is coming from a mobile device and tailors the presentation of infoblocks to the type of the device. For users accessing their infoblocks from a Palm device, CTS server re-formats infoblocks so that they fit on Palm's screen.
    • Web-enabled (WAP) phones
      When the target device is a WAP-enabled cellular phone, CTS server translates infoblocks' HTML into WML before sending them over to the device.
    • E-mail
      Web content, or notifications on changes in web content, can be delivered through e-mail.
    • Alpha-numeric pagers
      These devices are typically used for receiving notifications rather than whole infoblocks. CallTheShots allows users to specify their pager as a target of notifications delivery.

CallTheShots cluster can use a combination of Oracle or SQL-Server database and the file system for data storage. Most user preferences and statistics are stored in the database, while the binary objects describing the exact paths and information location are stored in the file system. Since Application Servers use extensive caching of user data, the load on the database servers is typically fairly small.

The Wireless World
The core functionality of our technology naturally lends itself to applications in a wireless world. Two cornerstone problems of wireless Internet access are the ability to access small amounts of relevant dynamic information and the ability to present it on a small-factor screen. The CallTheShots technology is uniquely suited to solving the first problem and we have made significant inroads into solving the second problem.

Our technology allows the user to specify which pieces of a web page (infoblocks) the user wants to see when he accesses the site from a mobile device. This capability achieves two goals. First, the site does not have to re-purpose its content for a variety of mobile devices, thereby saving considerably on development and maintenance costs. Second, the user still gets a personalized view of a site even when he accesses it from a mobile device.

Displaying any content on a small-factor device is a challenge but CallTheShots is in the unique position of being able to solve the problem of presentation in an automatic way. As the administrator or the user creates an infoblock on a personal computer, CTS can show right away how this block will appear on a small-factor device. If a piece of a web page doesn't lend itself to rendering on a small screen (for example, a table is too wide), the creator of an infoblock will be able to specify how it should be drawn on the device by using a simple graphical tool. (In our example, the user will have an option of specifying whether the table should be truncated, or split into two.) The CTS server will remember the user's instructions and will display the content accordingly.

Currently, CallTheShots supports two types of wireless devices: Palm VII and WAP-enabled cellular phones. (Other devices can be added with limited effort.) The user does not need to create different personalized versions for each device -- the CTS server knows how to tailor the presentation depending on the device that the user is using for access. When a user connects to the CallTheShots server, the server identifies the requesting device by examining HTTP headers, retrieves the requested information block and prepares it for presentation on the specific device. For Palm VII, the server reformats the HTML of the information block to fit the screen. For WAP-enabled cell phones, the server translates HTML into WML (see WAP-specific section below).

  • Palm-specific details
    Although Palm claims that their gateway will transform any HTML into a form suitable for displaying on a Palm device, experience shows that it doesn't always work as advertised. The CTS server simplifies the gateway's job by taking on some of its responsibilities, such as removing all JavaScript code, style sheets, image maps, cookies and nested tables. The CTS server will also change the layout of information blocks to make them appear nicely on a Palm device.

    To make user's information blocks accessible from Palm, the user needs to install either a site-specific Palm Query Application (PQA) that will direct the requests to the CallTheShots server, or a CallTheShots PQA. The site can create its PQA by using a template provided by CallTheShots. If a user opts to install the CallTheShots PQA, then the user will be able to register and access all his personalized accounts from within a single application.

  • WAP-specific details
    Besides having an extra small screen, WAP-enabled cellular phones present an additional complication of not understanding HTML. For any content to be shown on such a phone, it needs to be translated into WML (Wireless Markup Language). There are HTML-to-WML translators available, but CallTheShots server uses an internal translator. The CTS server knows how an information block is put together, therefore it can make translation decisions much better than a commercially available gateway unfamiliar with the internal structure of infoblocks. In addition, when the user's personalized page contains more than one infoblock, the CTS server can automatically present it so that each infoblock is shown as one card in a WML deck, with forward and backward navigation enabled between the cards.


 Maintained and copyrighted 1994-2001 by Michael Teger.