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Atlassian Taking On the World

(Update: apologies for the dead video links, Youtube is apparently down, here’s their message: ”

We’re currently putting out some new features, sweeping out the cobwebs and zapping a few gremlins.“)

I’ve recently had a chance to meet Mike and Jonathan in Atlassian’s San Francisco offices, and frankly was blown away by their enthusiasm, the company’s growth, but most importantly by a demo of Confluence, the market-leading enterprise wiki.

Market-leading? Never heard of them, you may say …. Certainly they enjoy a lot less brand recognition than let’s say JotSpot or Socialtext, both of which enjoyed abundant PR from the moment they launched, largely thanks to Joe and Ross‘s star-power. (Hey Joe, you were my early inspiration to get started with blogging, time for YOU to post again!). Lacking the “instant brand”, Atlassian spent their money on product development instead of PR, and it has obviously paid off. Watch this video for background:

Less PR or not, they are not exactly unknown to customers, as Confluence’s corporate market share is more than the others put together. From what I understand Confluence’s sweet spot is larger organizations, where administration, sophisticated permissioning schemes (groups, pages, activities…etc.) scalability, performance are increasingly important. (Yes, permissioning kinda goes against the social, “we’re-all-contributors” nature of wikis, but it’s a fundamental corporate requirement). The largest implementations currently run up to 30k users, but Atlassian is working on a clustered release that will be scalable to hundreds of thousands of users. Pricing also reflects the focus on large corporations: while at the entry-level Confluence is typically more expensive, at the high end (large user-base) it costs less then either Socialtext or Jot.

Despite it’s impressive feature-set and favorable price Confluence is not an available choice for some customers; namely those who are determined to use SaaS solutions. Confluence is strictly on-premise, download and install-behind-the-firewall software. Being a big believer in SaaS of course I would like to see them offer a hosted version, but today’s market reality is that only 10% of all software sold is SaaS. Atlassian’s own customer experience is that a lot of larger organizations do want their wiki behind the firewall, and competitors must have been receiving similar feedback, as both Socialtext and JotSpot are adding an installable product to their offering. However, Confluence may be missing out on the bottom-up, grassroots adoption by business users that both Jot and Socialtext are enjoying – at least until it becomes available on-demand.

And while the Founders did not have the star-power of their competitors 4 years ago, they are getting closer, having just received the 2006 Ernst & Young Eastern Region Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.. Watch the video of the Awards Ceremony here:

Congrat’s, Mike and Scott!

 

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Click… Click … #FAIL. The Microsoft Dynamics Obstacle Course

I guess I should start theme days.  Yesterday it was passwords, today it’s a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, this time it’s actually 4 images, but they tell the full story.. no comment required.

dyn1

New Blog Post: Check Out the NEW NetSuite Compete Site!: check out the new NetSuite compete site for competitive… http://twurl.nl/0h2gyj

OK, I am clicking through.. only to find this:

dyn2

What’s this?  Obstacle course?  hm… click through again…

dyn3

Geez, will this ever end?  Click… click..

dyn4

No way, Jose.  I’m so outta here.  #FAIL.


Update: On second thought, I think Microsoft must have a penchant for Obstacle Courses – here’s another one.

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Competitors Rush to bring the Latest Timesinks to the Enterprise

It’s nice to see competitors come together to bring the most popular timesinks productivity boosters to the Enterprise.

We’ve long been predicting Foursquare would soon hit the Enterprise, and no the wait is over, with Atlassian releasing Fourwalls.

fourwalls

There’s a lot we can learn from this app – otherwise how would I know that @barconati spends way too much time in the kitchen? (unless he is cooking a new Confluence soup).

Let’s not forget competition – how could archrival Socialtext leave this field to Atlassian?  No way… and there they are, releasing Chatroulette for the Enterprise.

A true revolution in Randomized Productivity Management (RPM) :-)

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Redux: Will Google Enter the Business Applications Market?

I am dusting off an old post I wrote more than two years ago, and while it shows my lazyness, I am doing it in the belief that the ideas I raised back then may soon get an answer … albeit not exactly the way I imagined.  And interestingly enough, just about every company I mentioned may have a role in it.  Or not.  After all, it’s just speculation.  So here’s the old post:

Google’s next killer app will be an accounting system, speculates Read/WriteWeb. While I am doubtful, I enthusiastically agree, it could be the next killer app; in fact don’t stop there, why not add CRM, Procurement, Inventory, HR?

The though of Google moving into business process / transactional system is not entirely new: early this year Nick Carr speculated that Google should buy Intuit, soon to be followed by Phil Wainewright and others: Perhaps Google will buy Salesforce.com after all. My take was that it made sense for Google to enter this space, but it did not need to buy an overpriced heavyweight, rather acquire a small company with a good all-in-one product:

Yet unlikely as it sounds the deal would make perfect sense. Google clearly aspires to be a significant player in the enterprise space, and the SMB market is a good stepping stone, in fact more than that, a lucrative market in itself. Bits and pieces in Google’s growing arsenal: Apps for Your Domain, JotSpot, Docs and Sheets …recently there was some speculation that Google might jump into another acquisition (ThinkFree? Zoho?) to be able to offer a more tightly integrated Office. Well, why stop at “Office”, why not go for a complete business solution, offering both the business/transactional system as well as an online office, complemented by a wiki? Such an offering combined with Google’s robust infrastructure could very well be the killer package for the SMB space catapulting Google to the position of dominant small business system provider.

This is probably a good time to disclose that I am an Advisor to a Google competitor, Zoho, yet I am cheering for Google to enter this market. More than a year ago I wrote a highly speculative piece: From Office Suite to Business Suite:

How about transactional business systems? Zoho has a CRM solution – big deal, one might say, the market is saturated with CRM solutions. However, what Zoho has here goes way beyond the scope of traditional CRM: they support Sales Order Management, Procurement, Inventory Management, Invoicing – to this ex-ERP guy it appears Zoho has the makings of a CRM+ERP solution, under the disguise of the CRM label.

Think about it. All they need is the addition Accounting, and Zoho can come up with an unparalleled Small Business Suite, which includes the productivity suite (what we now consider the Office Suite) and all process-driven, transactional systems: something like NetSuite + Microsoft, targeted at SMB’s.

The difficulty for Zoho and other smaller players will be on the Marketing / Sales side. Many of us, SaaS-pundits believe the major shift SaaS brings about isn’t just in delivery/support, but in the way we can reach the “long tail of the market” cost-efficiently, via the Internet. The web-customer is informed, comes to you site, tries the products then buys – or leaves. There’s no room (or budget) for extended sales cycle, site visits, customer lunches, the typical dog-and-pony show. This pull-model seems to be working for smaller services, like Charlie Wood’s Spanning Sync:

So far the model looks to be working. We have yet to spend our first advertising dollar and yet we’re on track to have 10,000 paying subscribers by Thanksgiving.

It may also work for lightweight Enterprise Software:

It’s about customers wanting easy to use, practical, easy to install (or hosted) software that is far less expensive and that does not entail an arduous, painful purchasing process. It’s should be simple, straightforward and easy to buy.

The company, whose President I’ve just quoted, Atlassian, is the market leader in their space, listing the top Fortune 500 as their customers, yet they still have no sales force whatsoever.

However, when it comes to business process software, we’re just too damn conditioned to expect cajoling, hand-holding… the pull-model does not quite seem to work. Salesforce.com, the “granddaddy” of SaaS has a very traditional enterprise sales army, and even NetSuite, targeting the SMB market came to similar conclusions. Says CEO Zach Nelson:

NetSuite, which also offers free trials, takes, on average, 60 days to close a deal and might run three to five demonstrations of the program before customers are convinced.

European All-in-One SaaS provider 24SevenOffice, which caters for the VSB (Very Small Business) market also sees a hybrid model: automated web-sales for 1-5 employee businesses, but above that they often get involved in some pre-sales consulting, hand-holding. Of course I can quote the opposite: WinWeb’s service is bought, not sold, and so is Zoho CRM. But this model is far from universal.

What happens if Google enters this market? If anyone, they have the clout to create/expand market, change customer behavior. Critics of Google’s Enterprise plans cite their poor support level, and call on them to essentially change their DNA, or fail in the Enterprise market. Well, I say, Google, don’t try to change, take advantage of who you are, and cater for the right market. As consumers we all (?) use Google services – they are great, when they work, **** when they don’t. Service is non-existent – but we’re used to it. Google is a faceless algorithm, not people, and we know that – adjusted our expectations.

Whether it’s Search, Gmail, Docs, Spreadsheets, Wiki, Accounting, CRM, when it comes from Google, we’re conditioned to try-and-buy, without any babysitting. Small businesses don’t subscribe to Gartner, don’t hire Accenture for a feasibility study: their buying decision is very much a consumer-style process. Read a few reviews (ZDNet, not Gartner), test, decide and buy.

The way we’ll all consume software as a service some day.

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Multi-tenancy, the Holy Grail of SaaS. Do Customers Care?

Two recent posts by Enterprise Social Software  vendors Jive and Atlassian set up a huge debate amongst my fellow Enterprise Irregulars.  Here’s the money-quote from Jive:

It’s not so long ago that it felt embarrassing to say the words "SaaS" and " single-tenant" in the same sentence. For years, it’s been an industry mantra that it’s  simply impossible to have a scalable SaaS business without multi-tenancy.

Both Jive and Atlassian went single-tenant. That’s a red flag with many SaaS purists.  But there’s more then just tenancy. What if customer data stays behind the firewall, while the application is still provided over the web?  Is that still considered SaaS?    Do customers really care about such issues, or do they look for innovation in features and services?

And a bonus: the #1 SaaS icon supposedly delivers on-premise, if the deal is big enough…

Read more here

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Zoho Office for Sharepoint: Use SaaS, Keep Data Behind the Firewall

One of the major roadblocks to SaaS providers’ entry to the enterprise is  IT and Business concerns about corporate security, thinking of the firewall as the last line of defense. 

Microsoft SharePoint has a very strong position in the Enterprise as the incumbents behind-the-firewall collaboration server, and for years smart Collaboration and Social Software vendors with better functionality, like Atlassian, Socialtext, Jive Software, Newsgator  have been "playing well", adopting their services to SharePoint.

Now Zoho joins, announcing Zoho Office for Microsoft SharePoint, which combines the benefits of a collaborative SaaS Suite with the (perceived or real?) security if keeping data behind the firewall.

Read more

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Jeffrey’s Seven: Cancer Dude Back Online

This is the third slide of the Opening Keynote from Atlassian’s Summit this week.  Amidst all the celebration of success, product and partner announcements, and just about a windfall of information it was a nice gesture to spend a minute with Atlassian’s first US employee, President Jeffrey Walker, who could not be at the event, having just received his chemotherapy a few days earlier.

Other than an Atlassian, Jeffrey is also a hacker artist and musician. And Cancer Dude.  His words, not mine.  He wrote them two years ago:

In preparation for this upcoming surgery, I’ll be working out every single day. I’ll be leaving work at a reasonable hour. I need to point my Type-A personality at Atlassian at something more important right now.”

I am Cancer Dude and I am going to kick it’s ass.

In March Jeffrey dropped a bomb: his cancer was back, bigger and uglier than ever before.  I don’t want to repeat the story, here’s my wrap-up, and his own post: Living with Cancer in Silicon Valley.

Today Jeffrey’s back online: Living with Cancer in Silicon Valley II: Survival Tips from a Hardened Cancer Dude.  It’s a must-read.  There’s no excuse not to find the time to read it.   His Seven Survival Tips are a testament of strong will, the kick-ass attitude that makes him invincible, and gives strength to many others.  Literally.

This time around the battle took more focus than ever before, so Jeffrey took a 6-month leave from Atlassian.  But he doesn’t rest.  Between two chemo treatments he played guitar at the recent Stanford University Relay for Life:

 

Now for the important part: he has 3.5 weeks left until surgery.  He is offering to play (free) at a local benefit in the San Francisco Bay Area.  If you need a musician who can identify with your cause, or just know of a benefit event, ping me below in comments or via the contact form.

Focus on the positive. Tell cancer to “Piss off”

(Cross-posted from CloudAve)

 

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Cancer Dude Will Win Again

This is Jeffrey Walker.  President of Atlassian, an incredibly cool and successful company. Hacker artist and musician.

And also Cancer Dude.  His words, not mine.  He wrote them two years ago:

In preparation for this upcoming surgery, I’ll be working out every single day. I’ll be leaving work at a reasonable hour. I need to point my Type-A personality at Atlassian at something more important right now.”

“I am Cancer Dude and I am going to kick it’s ass.”

It was an eloquent, inspiring, witty, sour yet humorous, brave post. I am sure that Jeffrey’s Type-A personality played a key role in defeating cancer and coming back healthy.

Now it looks like he did not win the War, just a major battle.   Jeffrey dropped a bomb in his blog today:

My cancer returned Monday. In not exactly a subtle way. I have two tumors, one of which is 11×8 centimeters…

…This is my life. I am living with cancer, I have had three major operations — here comes #4…

…I can struggle or I can embrace it. Those of you who know me understand I have only one option. Not because I consciously choose. I am just innately positive…

Damn.  I’m struggling for words.  Writers block.  Damn again – here I am whining when all I have to do is pull my thoughts together.  Jeffrey is the guy with the real fight: he is fighting for his life, for his family, for his company, friends, everything he believes in.  And what a fighter he is!  The way he handled the battle last time gave courage and inspiration to many others.

Here’s something on a personal side:

  • In 2007, just the day before Jeffrey became cancer dude he took the entire San Francisco office to a Giants game.  He obviously was aware of his condition, but kept it to himself for a while, not wanting to spoil the fun.  The Team comes first for Cancer Dude.  He invited me, but I declined, not being a baseball fan.  When I found out about his condition, I felt guilty for missing a chance, and promised myself to never turn down an invitation from Jeffrey again.
  • This weekend I was supposed to talk to him again.  We set a time aside to discuss business, his philosophy and a lot more a’propos of Atlassian’s $100M milestone.  I missed the appointment (shame of me, I forgot).  And here I find him in hospital again.  Karma?  If it is, it’s as bad as it gets – so I choose to ignore it.

But this story isn’t about me.  It’s about Jeffrey, his courage, endless positivism, and the fight he will win again.  A Veteran, he already has a blueprint for it:

The first priority on the blueprint is of course getting the right treatment and recovering. But the blueprint includes trying to work when you can. I called a customer Tuesday morning, just 20 hours after getting the news.

Customer call the day after finding out he has cancer again.  Vintage Jeffrey.   That’s the tough guy who will beat this s**t again.  And then I don’t care, he may even drag me to a baseball game, I will go (although beer in a pub still preferred).

This is Jeffrey’s fight – supported by his family and doctors.   But there is something we can all do.  This is what Jeffrey wrote after winning the previous battle:

The community was awesome. People I never even met wrote me passionate emails. I was touched.

Tuesday, the day before surgery, would not normally be a Real Groovy Day. You go onto a clear liquid diet and clean out your system for the surgery. Not a regimen I would recommend. Instead, it was an exhilarating day. Watching the comments, emails and views pour in from people I inspired turned out to be a massive inspiration to me.

So let’s do our part: please comment on his blog, write your own post, Twitter, Friendfeed, you name it – just link to his post, and use the tag cancerdude.  Let’s give Jeffrey all the inspiration we can.

And welcome him back in a few weeks.

(Cross-posted to CloudAve.)

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Recruiting by Video

Originally a little side-project for Atlassian’s FedEx Day, which is their version of the Hackathon, Hack Day, YouNameIt-Day, I bet this video on Atlassian’s Core Values becomes a perfect recruiting tool.

And boy, they have a bunch of openings… have they missed the end-of-the-world-fire-30% memo? smile_wink

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Come to Defrag

Next week I’ll be in Denver, attending Defrag, a boutique, intellectual, intense, very participatory conference.  I’m attending despite the fact that I’ve cut down on conference attendance, not because of the current economic turmoil, but largely due to burnout.  After a while they just all feel the same: empty session rooms, bored exhibitors, people just enjoying ad-hoc hallway conversations.  But there is something intriguing about Defrag: friends and smart minds I respect keep on tweeting about Defrag, and the agenda just looks exciting.

  • I’ve always enjoyed reading Paul Kedrosky, whose posts deliver the punch in just a few words – or an image.  I’ve never met him, so I’m looking forward to his keynote.
  • Howard Lindzon’s keynote, titled It’s Always a Good Time to Start a Web Business will no doubt have a very special meaning in the current economic situation.
  • I’m really, really looking forward to the next keynote, Getting Into the Flow Applications – a subject I somewhat touched upon, and likely will re-visit before heading to the conference.
  • The first breakout session will be a huge dilemma: I literally should split myself in two halves, I badly want to attend both Dis (and Re)-aggregating the Web with Disqus, Intense Debate and my6sense, but I can’t miss Re-imagining the metaphors behind collaborative tools with Atlassian, Mindtouch, Liquid Planner, One Place either.  (Update: now I really can’t miss it, as I’ll be moderating this session.)

I could go on, but I’ve just realized I’d literally have to duplicate the entire Agenda here.  Have I just discovered Defrag’s secret sauce?   Conferences are never about sessions, it’s all about the ad-hoc networking, even lobbycon-ing – yet I find myself wanting to attend most sessions, in fact two of them in most of the breakouts.  Defrag promises amazing intellectual content, and if I just follow Twitter, an extraordinary group of innovators plan to attend. From what I hear, this is the conference where the attendees participate just as much as the speakers.

Do yourself a favor, check out the Agenda, read Eric’s 10 reasons to come to Defrag and register. (Use discount code “zoli1” to receive $300 off).

Update: Microsoft’s PDC is in full force today, and guess what, the conference wi-fi is failing.  This seems to be the fate of all conferences, including ironically Web 2.0 Expo.  The only exception I’ve seen so far is the Office 2.0 Conference, which teamed up with Swisscom to build rock-solid wi-fi.  What is less known though, that they got the tip and contacts from Defrag organizer Eric Norlin.  Yes, Defrag, working with Swisscom was the first conference to provide industrial-strength, reliable wi-fi throughout the entire site, including rooms in the conference hotel, the Hyatt Regency.  So if you come to Defrag, you’ll be connected 24/7.  (OK, just 24/2: Nov 3-4thsmile_wink)