EQAL launching Umbrella

Consumer platform tool allows website development

NEW YORK -- EQAL, the creators behind the Web hit "lonelygirl15," on Thursday unveiled plans to launch a consumer platform tool dubbed Umbrella that will allow independent producers, celebrity talent and online personalities to create their own website and develop an audience around it.

The company, which recently said the weak ad market has forced it to halt its own original content development work, said Umbrella will feature the same enterprise-grade platform that powers EQAL's premium partner Web sites, but with simplified publishing and management interface features.

It will bring "blog-style and episodic publishing, discussion and forums and user profile pages into one easily themed product that site owners can effectively use to connect with their audience" and make money as well, the firm said.

EQAL will launch the product in private beta with select partners.