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Atlassian: Fully Funded. By Customer Revenue. Oh, and the $60M T-shirt

atlassian mike scott It was 2006, the first Office 2.0 Conference in San Francisco and I just met Jeffrey Walker, President of Atlassian. I had followed the company for a while (OK, I admit, had been a fan), met Mike, but this was the first time with Jeffrey, so we took our box lunch to a cozy little place away from the crowd and started to chat. Within minutes a VC Partner joined us, and so the usual “what are you doing” conversation started.  Well, it wasn’t a conversation: Jeffrey talked, the VC listened.  And in 5 minutes he was ready pull out the checkbook (sort of), when Jeffrey dropped the bomb:

We’re actually not seeking funding.  We’re fully funded.  By customer revenues.

Seeing the VC’s face was priceless.  After all, the cliche for startup success was to take funding.   Which Atlassian did – 4 years later.  But they do nothing by halves.  $60 million or nothing! 🙂   But I am running ahead.  Back to the early days.

I got to know Atlassian as the Wiki Company – having compared the few early business wikis, I came to the Conclusion that Confluence was the most robust, complete one.  I’m probably not the most pleasant reviewer when I don’t like what I see – but I could simply not find anything to criticize with Confluence – it became the de facto industry standard for others to follow.  That said Atlassian is /was about more then Confluence: their roots are in supporting developers, having started with a powerful bug tracker Jira, and growing to eight (?) products atlassian modelorganically and through acquisitions.  Not being a techie, I don’t even understand most of these products – so the root cause of my infatuation with Atlassian was really their business model.

There is nothing wrong with taking VC Funding, but risking everything to your last penny is what Entrepreneurship was originally all about, so it is simply refreshing to see a company to have made it solely on bootstrapping, beating the odds. Add to it great software that’s easy to buy, learn, use, sprinkle it with a good dose of transparency and great service,  and you get a startup worth admiring. I’ve had lots of fun covering their early success and also learned a lot watching them:

Oh, and they gave me some of my funnier titles:

…’cause they like having fun, and I guess it’s contageous.  But amidst all that fun they can sometimes be dangerous:-)

I tried to help them fill The Dream Job (no, I wanted that job:-)), help with their charitable promotion – hey, even put my http://www.cloudave.com/link/helping-atlassian-stimulus-package-towards-the-finish-line“>money where my mouth was.  Then I had to write the most difficult post in my life, saying goodbye to Jeffrey, Atlassian President, musician, amazing person and fellow Enterprise Irregular.

And today they taught me another lesson: don’t ever sit on a story.  It expires.  My unwritten story that I’ve been contemplating for a while was about two bootstrapped startups, both in software, amazingly successful that have sailed into IPO zone almost unnoticed.  The second one is Zoho, which I consider to be approaching IPO-readiness, but I seriously doubt they would chose to go that way.  But Zoho is our Sponsor, talking too much about them would look like ***ing up, so I’ll stop here.  The day will come.  But today is Atlassian’s day.

Why would a company that has profitably grown for 8 years need funding now? They want to grow more agressively, both in terms of geography and product coverage. That means acquisitions.  They  want to accelerate growth to above $100M revenue, which is what’s considered “IPO ready” nowadays.

mcaccon underwaterBut what drove me to the conclusion they were on the IPO-track even before the funding was deep in their culture.

Atlassian is always hiring, yet it’s difficult to get in. They are picky. It’s a “work-hard-play-hard” culture.  Employees are well paid and  the company spends lavishly on team fun. No wonder their revenue per employee ratio is high.  But the team lives in Sydney and San Francisco, where there is an expectation that after a few years in a red-hot startup you get rich…  The Founders probably no longer live frugally, but how to share the wealth with all employees without an exit?  Funding accelerates the path to exit and my even bring interim liquidity critical to keep the team around. I agree with Ben in that respect.

dftpc $60 million is a lot of money, in fact Accel Partners claim it is the largest investment they’ve ever made in the software business.  But there’s a whole world of difference in picking it up as a mature, profitable company or a fledgling startup.  Some of Atlassian’s competitors picked up a third of this amount at early stages and probably had to give up three times as much equity as Atlassian did.  Bootstrapping has paid off, after all.

Oh, about that $60M T-shirt – you really have to read it over @ Atlassian. After all, this is a SFW blog:-)

Update:  I’m speechless.  What’s this? Sour grapes?

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)

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Atlassian Security Breach and Warning. >>> Update: Apology and Disclosure

crikey Well, well, hours after telling you not to change passwords, now I am telling you to change it… but this time with good reason. Minutes ago I’ve received a email from Atlassian:

We are sending you this message because we experienced a security breach and suspect that your Atlassian customer account password details (only) may have been compromised.
It is very unlikely that an unauthorised user has had the opportunity to log in to your account so far and if they have, there is very little in the way of personal information which could have been accessed. However, to minimise any further risk to your Atlassian account being compromised, we strongly recommend that you change your Atlassian account password as soon as possible using the procedure below.
Be aware that this security issue only affects Atlassian customers who created an Atlassian account and purchased one of our products before June 2008. Since then, we have been using a more secure user management system based on Atlassian’s Crowd product. When you change your Atlassian account password using the procedure below, your Atlassian customer account details will be stored in our updated Crowd user management system, which will further minimise the chance of a security breach occurring in future.
Procedure for changing your Atlassian customer account password:
1) Login to http://my.atlassian.com
2) Click “My Profile” (3rd tab)
3) Click “Change Password” (in Contact Information section)
4) Update your password to a new value
Atlassian apologises for the inconvenience caused. However, this is an extremely rare event for us and since we take security issues seriously, we are taking every precaution possible to minimise the effects of this security breach.

Sincerely/Best regards,
Glenn Butcher
Director of IT

Not fun .. and I expect to we’ll hear more from Atlassian soon.  For now they are obviously figthing whatever it is – status update from Twitter:

Atlassian had a security breach. Apologies for the confusion. Our site is experiencing heavy loads. We are working on getting back up ASAP.

Personally I am safe – I don’t have active accounts, just decided to help push Atlassian’s charity towards the finish line by purchasing 10 licences, but if you do, time to change the passwords…

Update:  co-Founder and co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes posted the details on the Atlassian blog.

Apparently an old, inactive database table that had already been migrated in July 2008 to the secure Crowd identity management system was not deleted mistakenly.  That indirectly answers the speculation about Atlassian passwords being stored in plain text format.  They are not – anymore, but they used to be, prior to July 2008.

Mike goes on to detail what was / was not compromised:  read for changes, they are resetting potentially compromised account passwords now.

He does not BS, owns up the mistake:

We made a big error. For this we are, of course, extremely sorry. The legacy customer database, with passwords stored in plain text, was a liability. Even though it wasn’t active, it should have been deleted. There’s no logical explanation for why it wasn’t, other than as we moved off one project, and on to the next one, we dropped the ball and screwed up.

They are still investigating what happened and Mike promises full disclosure, coming this week.

It’s been a bad day for Atlassian and some of their customers – but I’m glad they live up to their “Open Company, No Bullshit” slogan, and respond as expected.

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)

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Atlassian $timulus Package Inching Towards Finish Line

Quick update on the Atlassian $timulus drive I previously reported about:  at 2pm on the last day of the promotion, they are at $93K – the $100K donation is realistic… but they may need a little push.

So I decided to put my money (well, a little) where my mouth is and have just purchased 10 5-person  licences of Confluence, the market leading enterprise wiki.  Not that I can use them all – so I will find a way to give them away in the future.

If you want to help them donate $100K to Room to Read, you can do your part easily … and just as a reminder, you’re buying a $1,200 licence for $5.   What a bargain to close out the week. 🙂

Update: With 3 hours to go Atlassian is just $2.5K short of reaching the target.  See coverage map at Mike’s blog.

Update #2: Ah, the drama of the last minutes:

$640 short of $100k… with 20 minutes to go, my maths says we’re just going to miss! 🙂
$590 short. Need $30/minute now… at least we did $35 last minute! 🙂
Just tipped $99,510… I wonder if we should just leave it up for 10 minutes extra, or does that seem dodgy?
Well… computer says it’s…over $100k!!
Woo! Woo!!! Dancin’ around the room. Atlassian Stimulus Package 400% of $25k goal. What a week. Simply staggering. THANK YOU EVERYBODY!
Atlassian Stimulus Package (preliminary) final total – $100,350 for Room To Read in 120 hours from 7284 _awesome_ startups and teams!!

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Atlassian $timulus Package Supports Charity. Two Days Left To Get Your (Almost) Free Confluence or Jira Licence.

This must be do-good-week.  Amongst all the talk about Ashton Kutcher’s challenge to CNN, how the follow-on Oprah show pushed Twitter to never-seen height, little attention was paid to the small fact that this initiative generated over $1 Million donations to Malaria No More.  Ashton started with his $100,000 check and was soon joined by Demi Moore, Ted Turner, Oprah and I don’t even know who else .. I lost count at $1M.   Hype aside, this is a major contribution to a good cause.

This week we’re also seeing a for-profit company, Atlassian drive to raise $100,000K for the benefit of Room to Read, an organization that builds schools, libraries in rural communities in Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Laos, Zambia …etc.  Doing good is in Atlassian’s DNA, likely coming from the co-Founder, who is a major Kiva Supporter.  His company had set up the Atlassian Foundation which donates basically 1% of everything:

  • 1% of company and employee time to Foundation projects
  • 1% of company equity to the Foundation
  • 1% of our products to non-profit groups

But wait!  This isn’t a post about charity only.  There’s a Deal in it for you!

The Atlassian $timulus package is a 5-day drive, during which you can get either Confluence, the excellent Enterprise Wiki, or Jira, the issue tracker – Atlassian’s first product that’s still an IT favourite  for $5 for 5 users.

Now I hear you ask: is that $5 per person per month?  That would by typical (actually low) pricing for most SaaS offerings.   NO!  It is:

  • A five-user licence (ie. $1 per person)
  • For a full year
  • For the full-featured entrerprise strenght products

My only regret is that it does not involve the hosted versions of these products.   But if it’s the downloadable, installable version, what’s this per year licence?  Most enterprise software is sold with a perpetual licence: you can use it forever.  But then the vendor pushes the (almost) mandatory maintenance fees to the tune of 20-25%, and major new releases every 4-5 years.

Atlassian does not play such games, their philosophy is transparency and simplicity. Software should be easy to learn, easy to use and easy to buy.  Hence the annual licence whish involves support. (Update: I misunderstood this part: the licence is a perpetual one, the additioal annual fees are for maintenance / support, and the are optional.)  And for comparison, the minimum annual licence for both Confluence and Jira is $1,200.

So Atlassian is essentially giving away $1,200 licences for free – but it’s actually a lot more.  This isn’t just your introductory price.  Customers who purchase during the $timulus week (only two days left) are locked in to their $1 per user price for the lifetime of the product, and those fees will be donated as well.   That goes way beyond giving up revenue – they can’t possibly provide support for $1 a year, so Atlassian is reaching into their pockets big time for years to come.

The initiative appears to be more wildly popular than they expected. The initial goal was to raise $25,000 for Room to Read, and they exceeded that target on the first day – hence the new objective of $100,000K.

Early this morning they were at 66% of the increased target:

Now, before someone thinks I am doing a paid commercial here: I am not receiving any form of compensation or incentive from Atlassian.  I simply like what they are doing.  A lot.

But I’m not naive.  This isn’t just charity.  It’s damned good marketing – in more ways then one.  First, as you may suspect is Brand recognition.

The second is perhaps less obvious: Atlassian’s initial product, Jira took several years to take off – the second, Confluence had much faster growth.  Part of their secret sauce has always been relying on a very loyal, very satisfied customer base, mostly IT-types who buy additional products from their trusted vendor.

So yes, Atlassian is seeding their market with thousands of free customers this week.  Which is fine, I’ve said before: you don’t have to be purely altruistic to do good.

Update: The Atlassian $timulus Package is now listed in Consumerist’s Morning Deals, along with Blu-Ray Discs and Casio Cameras 🙂

(Cross-posted from CloudAve. To stay abreast of news, analysis and just plain opinion on Cloud Computing, SaaS, Business grab the CloudAve Feed here.)

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SocialText Becomes Really Social

Socialtext, the enterprise wiki company is no more… a wiki company, that is.  Not since Socialtext 3.0, the new release announced today.   Founder and Chairman Ross Mayfield calls his new baby a Connected Collaboration Platform, that’s modular, built on a widget framework, and consists of:

A fourth piece, Socialtext Signals is in the works, in private beta testing – I guess we could call it Twitter (Yammer?  ESME?) for the Enterprise.  Actually more, since it involves active microblogging – quick messages – as well as pulling in what users do elsewhere (FriendFeed?)

The platform is flexible, easy to customize via widgets, clearly the vision is that in an enterprise environment actionable information is pulled in from the transactional systems, too – i.e. ERP, CRM.

Knowing Ross as the uber-social guy something tells me this is what he always wanted to to: create Social Software.  But I tend to agree with Jevon MacDonald, who differentiates social software from the wiki, which is primarily a collaboration tool.  So Ross was really in the collaboration business and given his name became synonymous with wiki evangelism, he will no doubt have a hard time changing that image. smile_wink

This is not to say the wiki part, should be neglected… It is the primary collaboration facility for anything not well handled by process-driven, transactional systems, and all this social layer is just the glue that holds it all together.  (Hint: you will hear a lot more about Glue soon).

I had in the past been quite critical of Socialtext’s wiki component, and am looking forward to revisit it, as part of our wiki-series in the coming weeks @ CloudAve.  In the meantime, enjoy this video:

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Atlassian Hiring Chief Heineken-taster

Last time I thought VP Marketing @ Atlassian was the Dream Job, but this one is better.  Your job will be to compare beer quality in Amsterdam vs. what they sell at Atlassian’s (almost) in-house pub in Sydney.   According to a commenter you may do some additional market research, too. smile_embaressed

 

Oh, well, here’s what they really want (cool company anyway).

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Wiki Review or Rant?

I am deeply interested in wikis, and business oriented ones in particular, in fact was considering doing a fairly detailed comparative study, so I got really excited seeing on twitter that Tom Raftery posted an Enterprise wiki review. Too bad it’s not a review; it’s a rant that lacks any methodology or real comparison.

He goes at length describing the installation nightmare:

The setup of the Confluence wiki was far from straightforward. It took two of us the best part of a day to simply install it. Remember that as I was doing this for [email protected], this was not billable time. I was installing it on my own server and because Confluence requires TomCat as its webserver it had to run on a separate port to Apache. This meant several people couldn’t view it in their organisations.

Sounds to me like a case of bad platform choice. Now, I am by far not as technically inclined as Tom is, and am biased: I won’t touch anything that needs to be installed. That’s what Software as a Service is for. Which, incidentally is an available option for Confluence, so how Tom got into comparing “hard-to-install” Confluence with hosted PBwiki and Socialtext is beyond me – it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. And there’s not much of a comparison either… here’s all he has to say about two other products:

By the way, I did also try out DekiWiki and Twiki but I ruled them out quite early on.

That’s not a very detailed review, if you ask me. DekiWiki is downloaded about 3000 times a day (!), so some people must like it… even though their acquisition of SocialText was just an April 1 joke. smile_regular

Joke apart, a word on picking the right tool for the right job: perhaps you don’t even need an “enterprise class” wiki for a conference. The official Oracle Wiki is based on Wetpaint, a decidedly consumer and community-focused platform.

My personal takeaway from this to me is to look at PBWiki: when I last checked it out, it was a baby-wiki for some reason popular in geek circles; apparently it has grown up. I’m not sure I will get to do the wiki review I’ve been planning, but in the meantime if Tom decides to write a real one, I am looking forward to reading it.

Update: Tom responded in a comment below. The hosted version of Confluence is NOT available under the community license. He ruled out DekiWiki as when he figured he could not to create Groups. There’s more, please read his comment.

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Dream Job for a Software Marketing VP @ Atlassian

Atlassian, a fast-growing, successful enterprise software company is looking for a VP of Marketing. I don’t normally broadcast job searches here, but am breaking that rule now for I believe this is a truly exceptional opportunity with a truly exceptional company. (Disclaimer: I have no business affiliation with Atlassian, but admit to being positively biased, as the company exemplifies a lot that I stand for.)

They are best known for two products: Jira, the issue tracking & software project management application was their first hit, putting the company on the fast growth track and establishing a loyal fan-base in the IT community.  Their existing reputation in the IT community certainly helped the second product, Confluence, the enterprise wiki gain traction: it is now equally popular in the IT and business community.  Wikis in general  have become more commonly known in the past two years; once a tiny market niche, today a growing field where new entrants pop up left and right, claiming to be best in this and that….  But numbers talk, and the verdict is clear: Confluence is the undisputed enterprise wiki market leader. 
Atlassian is not sitting on their laurels: in the past year they diversified, acquiring several companies and launching new products on their own.  Frankly, I lost track, but I believe  their portfolio currently includes 8 products, all part of an “IT toolkit”, with the exception of Confluence, which is seeing fast adoption amongst business users, too.  

The customer list is impressive: IBM, HP, SAP, Citigroup, Boeing, BMW, Shell, McDonalds, Pfizer … just about all the Fortune 1000, as well as non-profits, Universities, Government Agencies, totaling over 9000 customers worldwide. (The chart is a bit misleading: Atlassian’s fiscal year starts in June, and the FY08 bar shows the current figure only, excluding projections.)

How did they achieve this?  They must have an excellent sales force.  Wrong! Atlassian has no sales force at all.  They don’t sell: customers simply buy their products on their own.   I often talk about  the pull-model that’s replacing the traditional, expensive enterprise sales process (6-9 months, high touch, flights, meetings, wine-and-dining, entertaining, in the end often nuked by politicssmile_baringteeth) – but that’s typically in the context of Software as a Service, and in the SMB (small business) market.  Atlassian’s products are mostly on-premise (although they now have a hosted version of Confluence) and their primary market is the large Enterprise.  Yet they pulled off what amounts to a small miracle:  essentially took the download.com, tucows style model we all know as consumers, and ported it to the enterprise space. 

Of course having customers try-and-buy through the Internet is not as simple as firing your Sales team ( or not hiring one).  It’s not a matter of a decision: it’ s a consistently applied philosophy, that you have to implement in every aspect of your business.  The key components are:

  • lightweight software
    • well-defined function set, meets specific user need, small user groups can get started
    • ease of use (both easy to learn and easy to use)
    • well documented, well supported
  • transparency
    • features (what you’re getting, no surprises)
    • issues (Atlassian’s bug tracker is open to the public)
    • pricing (simple, upfront pricing, no fill-out-contact-form-wait-for-sales-to-call-back BS)
  • low price (“expensable, not approvable” – to quote a former competitor)

The “pull-model” means customers will need to find you- which is why Marketing is a critical function.  With Sales gone, Marketing becomes sales (actually, Atlassian’s CEO proudly says everyone is in Sales, especially Support).  So if you are a marketing superstar,  or know one, want to be part of a successful team, work for celebrities , you owe it to yourself to apply.

Atlassian is not only about business – it’s about people.  I know, old cliche.. but here it works.  The unique culture this team maintained throughout their super-growth even now that they have 130 people is a large part of their success.

So what is this culture like?  Tough. When he doesn’t make his numbers, Atlassian President Jeffrey Walker is forced to make up for it as ticket-scalper on the street. smile_omg OK, joke apart, this photo was shot last August, when the entire San Francisco office went to see a Giants game together. (Incidentally, just a day before Jeffrey became cancer dude). This wasn’t a rare occasion, either: both the San Francisco and the Sydney teams have a lot of fun together:  Cutlassian, Mission: Atlassian, theme-filled staff events, abound throughout the year.   Their new office  building in Sydney is right next to a pub (hint: when will you guys realize you’d be better off buying the entire pub?beer)  I wonder when the San Francisco office will move into a winery…  Perhaps you get the picture by now: Working for Atlassian isn’t just a job  – it’s a lifestyle.  But don’t for a minute think it’s a bunch of rowdy kids having fun only:  they bring in $30 million a year.  And if you don’t perform, this is what awaits you.

So that’s the magic formula: combine business success with a fun, team-focused culture and you’ve got the makings of the ultimate job.  (Are you still reading, or have you alerted your Marketing superstar friend yet?)

Now, if this is the ultimate job, there’s one question unanswered: How come it hasn’t been filled yet?  I wanted to hear the answer straight from the horse’s mouse so to speak, so I asked Atlassian President Jeffrey Walker, who responded below:

We were inundated with resumes, and found a few excellent capable candidates. Unfortunately, one of the growing pains of companies like ours is we were not quite ready for the right candidate. Incorporating someone of the caliber we need takes preparation. Our search began prematurely. Lesson learned. After the founders and I took another few ‘long walks’, we came out aligned and ready. This time I fully expect to complete the search. Just need the right remarkable individual.

Well, I did not walk with Jeffrey and the Founders, but I certainly hope they will not change a lot:smile_wink.  I have a lot to say on the subject of hiring, but it’s not specific to Atlassian, so I’ll break it out to a separate post.  In the meantime, if you are that “remarkable individual”, what are you waiting for?

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A Confluence of the Wiki and Document/Folder Worlds

Merriam-Webster:

confluence

1: a coming or flowing together, meeting, or gathering at one point <a happy confluence of weather and scenery>

2 a: the flowing together of two or more streams

b: the place of meeting of two streams

c: the combined stream formed by conjunction

Today we’re seeing the confluence of two worlds: the flow-oriented thinking and collaboration, represented by Confluence, the market-leading enterprise wiki, and the more traditional approach of documents, lists, folders, represented by Microsoft SharePoint. Or perhaps it’s a right-brain / left-brain thing. I’ve talked about it at length, and since Jeremiah, Web Prophet says backlinking is OK, I’ll just do that, instead of repeating myself: Flow vs. Structure: Escaping From the Document & Directory Jungle.

Now, as important forward-looking visioning is, successful business leaders recognize what the market wants today, not where they’d like to lead them tomorrow. Recognizing that Microsoft Office is deeply entrenched in the corporate workplace, Atlassian first added Webdav capabilities to Confluence (drag-and-drop files into the wiki, single click on attachment to edit them in the original MS Office format and save back to the wiki). But customers wanted more, according to Jeffrey Walker, President:

..meeting with customers and analysts, SharePoint came up in every meeting. “We have growing groups who love the wiki, and long standing users of Microsoft and now SharePoint. Help!”, customers asked..

The result of today’s joint Microsoft and Atlassian announcement of the SharePoint Connector for Confluence. The initial features include:

  • Search: Users can search SharePoint and Confluence content together from one place.
  • Content sharing: From within SharePoint, users can embed Confluence page contents allowing users to blend content. This also includes Confluences numerous plugins.
  • Linking: Within Confluence, users can access SharePoint document facilities. By including SharePoint lists and content within Confluence, users, in a single click, can edit Microsoft Office documents.
  • Single Sign-On and Security: With one login, users can access both systems while seeing only what they have permission to view.

In short, access your information, whether you’re the wiki-flow type or the create-save-hide-in-folders type smile_wink

The screenprint above shows a Confluence page (with the charting plugin) embedded within, and editable directly from SharePoint. For more, check out the feature tour.

Jevon MacDonald is pondering about the business realities behind this deal:

The question that weighs most heavily is: is there enough incentive for Microsoft to participate in this partnership in any significant way? The immediate economics aren’t obvious for Microsoft, which leaves us with two options:

– but I’m not giving those options away, you’ll have to read his post. (as an aside, he is the only one examining the business side, but his post is not on TechMeme – let’s see if we can push it theresmile_sarcastic)

Speculation aside, some numbers: SharePoint has 80 million users while Atlassian Confluence has 4,100 customers – I don’t know how many users that translates to, but I’ve just written about SAP’s SDN/BPX communities which has about a million (!) users, and Confluence is a significant part of it. That said, Jeffrey said it right, David kisses Goliath in this deal.

There is no marketing agreement behind it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Microsoft’s huge reseller channel show interest in Confluence. And frankly, just removing the “we’re a SharePoint-shop” political obstacle in some major enterprise client is worth it alone.

Sour grapes? Competitor Socialtext announced their SharePoint integration a year ago, and CEO Ross Mayfield says SharePoint wiki was last year’s news. Well, I think Socialpoint, the Socialtext/SharePoint integration was last year’s news, this year’s news is Confluence.

Perhaps next year’s news will be which enterprise wiki vendor could translate their deals into real market gains. smile_shades

Update: here’s a video interview with CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes and President Jeffrey Walker on ScobleShow.

HOT! EXCLUSIVE! Here’s the real price Mike had to pay for this deal… just compare his looks above with this video. What’s next? A suit and tie? smile_tongue

Related posts: Read/WriteWeb, Computerworld, Don Dodge, Atlassian News, WebProNews, Between the Lines, Ross Mayfield’s Weblog, Irregular Enterprise, Radiowalker, elliptical , eWEEK.com, Socialwrite, Trends in the Living Networks, Rebelutionary.

Update (10/19): Intriguing thoughts on wiki plug-ins, KM Web-services and Enterprise SOA on – surprise, suprise! – the SAP Community Network

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Wiki: the Beauty & the Beast. Usability & Functionality (Event)

Silicon Valley Web Builder will host a wiki-focused event tomorrow, Wednesday. While their first wiki event almost a year ago with JotSpot, Socialtext , Atlassian and WetPaint was more introductory, this time the focus will be on – surprise! – the contrast or harmony of Beauty- i.e. attractive UI, vs. the Beast – functional robustness.

The Moderator for tomorrow is Luke Wroblewski, Yahoo’s design guru who has authored a book on Web interface design principles titled “Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability” and is working on thee next one: “Web Form Design Best Practices”.

The Panelists are:

It’s definitely an interesting mix. Playing a bit with the metaphor, I’d say market leader Atlassian is known as the “beast”: whatever enterprise wiki functionality you can think of, their Confluence will likely have it.

Wetpaint got popular for the “beauty” – that’s why I called it the wiki-less wiki. It’s a most user-friendly self-publishing tool that allows anyone to create a site and transform it into an online community. Incidentally, the SV Web Builder site is built on Wetpaint.

Brainkeeper, a user-friendly enterprise wiki startup took me by surprise when they launched in January. Totally out of left field, they aim to be the beast like Confluence and the beauty like Wetpaint, with twists not seen in wikis, like workflow. I’m really looking forward to seeing how far they’ve got since launch.

MindTouch is transforming the Wiki from the Web’s best collaborative authoring tool into an open source service platform with a Wiki heart. Their Deki Wiki Hayes release is perhaps the most extendable Wiki tool available today.” I had to steal that line from Read/WriteWeb, I couldn’t have said it any bettr – oh, and congrat’s on reaching the 100,000 user mark!

Zoho is not a pure-play wiki player. Their wiki is just a part of a productivity/collaboration suite, and it shows. Beauty? The UI needs improvement, but this is the only wiki with not just simple a WYSIWYG editor, but a full word processor that writes true html, not wiki syntax. Beast? I think the emphasis here will not be on the standalone product, but how well it integrates with other Zoho offerings, supporting a flow-oriented world that matches how we think.

It will no doubt be an interesting event, so please check out the site details, and remember, admission is free if you register online, but $10 at the door. See you tomorrow.

Related posts: Laughing Squid, Lunch 2.0, Functioning Form, Mindtouch, Brainkeeper, Wetpaint, Zoho blogs, Centernetworks.