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2x startup Founder & CEO who has gone to the Dark Side of VC. His first company, BuildOnline was sold in 2005, his second, Koral was acquired by Salesforce.com and became known as Salesforce Content, while Mark served as VP Product Management. In 2007 Mark joined GRP Partners in 2007 as a General Partner.  He focuses on early-stage technology companies, usually looking at Series A investment, and blogs at the aptly titled Both Sides of the Table.

2 responses to “Is WebEx “Dead Man Walking?””

  1. anupkejriwal

    Interesting post Mark. Skype has indeed done a great job with video/voip calls. You can already see that GoToMeeting etc. is moving more into GoToWebinar market (much more business focused) and trying to convert GoToMeeting customer to be GoToWebinar customers (at a higher ARPU). We used to pay them $39/mo, now we pay them $99/mo. I guess key will b to see how many gotomeeting customers they were able to convert to be a gotowebinar customers vs. how many abandoned them altogether :-)

    As for your points around…”I believe that you need to have product excellence in order to scale to being a really big business and that’s pretty tough when you have such a wide remit”, in general, I would agree with it…however, there is a difference between best of breed and having features/depth for the sake of having depth.

    When enterprise software is analyzed we seem to ignore the omnipresent 80/20 (more like 95/5) rule and paint all enterprise users and software with the same broad brush(e.g Boeing’s project management tool needs are very different from that of say Google’s…point being that tools that are 6 miles deep are appropriate for some companies but unnecessarily complex monsters and cost for others…and I would contend that only 5% of the companies really need the depth these so called “best of breed” tools offer).

    So, my view is that most enterprise software have become too complex, expensive and and are increasingly creating their own silos making them highly inefficient to use and adopt (imagine all the departments in a company refusing to talk to each other except maybe by sending inter-office snail mail).

    You may find my views on “Skinny social business collaboration suite vs. siloed bloatware” (http://bit.ly/diRxD2) relevant.

    -Anup

  2. Mike Barnes

    Mark, a really interesting post. I came across it when looking for market views on Huddle, which I’ve used a little through dealings with an organisation who were trialling it. Even as a proponent of social networking software in business, I’m still struggling to identify good from bad in terms not so much of software features and quality but of fit with a workday regime.

    Anyhow, the main thing you talk about is Webex, and I have to admit to being biased as I was with Cisco for 9 years. I think Webex is great. Which is why your points are alarming, because you’re right yet I’m not sure we’re seeing the whole picture yet.

    Skype has been hugely successful, but does their service have the stickiness that it takes to make them a sure thing when choosing a service? Google seem like a better bet – if they can roll out a voice and video feature globally, and convert their user base, Skype may well be left with a huge customer database but with rather less activity on their platform. And so the dilemma is whether to choose a product which offers what you want in essentially a silo, or do you choose a platform which offers integrated features? In other words, Unified Communications vs cherry-picking tools for specific purposes. And here I’m clearly talking about business rather than consumer. Plus, if/when things don’t work the free alternative seems like a bad choice. Not that the paid alternative might necessarily work better, but if you’ve got a signed SLA then you at least have some leverage.

    Personally I prefer the unified approach, but it’s a problem which doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. Plus there’s a long way to go in market development yet – social software has a habit of being extremely hard to truly unify, although pretty easy to mash. Which isn’t the same thing.

    Anyhow, thanks for provoking my thoughts (and sorry for being nearly a year late to this party :-) ). As a freelance consultant I blog on topics like this at mikbarne.wordpress.com, you’d be most welcome.