Google Acquires JotSpot, Socialtext Provides Free Migration

Google acquires JotSpot and what ensues is surely to be 2 years of confusion while they figure out what to do with it, how to handle customers (they shut off registrations for new accounts), and what the impact to their existing product strategy is. This is a great opportunity for Socialtext to provide a safe harbor for Jot customers who are concerned about their future under Google. You can migrate your data out of Jot today and into a Socialtext workspace with no cost, upfront or hidden, it’s that straightforward.

Google Acquires JotSpot, Socialtext Provides Free Migration | Socialtext Enterprise Wiki:

Socialtext, the first winki company, announced today a free hosted wiki program for JotSpot customers following that company’s acquisition by Google. Socialtext will migrate JotSpot wiki content and provide one year of Socialtext Professional hosted wiki service to any JotSpot customer who signs up by the end of November 2006. While most JotSpot customers are small-to-midsized businesses, this offer is extended to deployments of any size.

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More CIO Observations

Fresh off my post about vendor partner programs and my observation that CIOs in enterprise IT don’t want to talk to startups comes this tidbit from Microsoft’s Cliff Reeves:

Most of the time: Mid-Atlantic CIO Conference:

1) When companies are asked which vendor they would most like to get way from (Tom called this the “loathing index”), it was inevitably the one they made most use of.

2) When companies are asked which vendor they plan to buy more from, it is the one they use most of.

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For The Record

The Department of Defense put up a website called “For The Record” that is aimed at correcting media inaccuracies as they see them. Interesting. This is exactly the kind of effort I wanted to put up at SAP to combat those Oracle advertisements that were coming out about once every 6 weeks.

In SAP’s case it wasn’t a media organization putting out biased or inaccurate information but rather a company using media and research analyst data in a misleading and inaccurate fashion. Oracle’s abuses with the truth were rampant and obvious so I wanted to run a website detailing how and why, and do it under the SAP banner so that there could be full transparency, but alas the lawyers said I couldn’t. Honestly, SAP’s internal legal group, like many others I am sure, is so risk averse and increasingly in a position of defining strategy that it really hampers the organization and irritates a great many people. They say they are doing their job, I say when your default position become “no” to anything new or on the edge without considering of the merits then you are actually doing a disservice to your client, in this case your employer.

The DoD site is a good start but it needs two improvements, the first being RSS capability and the second is that it needs a better URL that facilitates a viral capability. I do like the edgy and combative style of the writing, if for no other reason it reminds people that someone is ready to fight back aggressively.

If your business involves information warfare then expect to see much more aggressive examples of companies and organizations launching in-your-face and combative websites and information tactics to help them competitively. The days of running some advertisements in trade publications, sponsoring a few conferences, and printing up some fancy customer case studies for your sales people to give to prospects are long gone.

The old rules like never talk about your competitor, as a primary strategy, are also out. While it is prudent, IMO, to not run the kind of full page ads that Oracle has been using against SAP (indeed, SAP did a pretty extensive survey of CIOs and IT decision makers and found overwhelming support for the argument that these ads were actually hurting Oracle by reinforcing biases against the company), I do think companies in mature markets need to run more aggressive anti-competitor campaigns. These will involve everything from websites to blogs to YouTube videos. The point is that you have to position against your competitor aggressively, protect your flanks from them doing the same, and fight to remove all the competitive oxygen from the room before you get there.

In one measure the Oracle advertisements are actually very good. They realize, indeed according to sources inside the company they plan on this, that it will take SAP several weeks to object and obtain relief from advertisements that are misleading and inaccurate but until that happens those ads are running overtime and taking on the air of truth that so happens in advertising through repetition. This is a great example of knowing your competitor as you know yourself and forming strategy based on that knowledge.

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Pluck RSS reader going, going, gone?

Pluck is discontinuing their RSS client. Does this surprise anyone? It should not because this was a poorly differentiated product in a market overflowing with product and service options. It’s not that Pluck did a poor job building the product, indeed I thought it was one of the better, but what they could not overcome is the reality that the market for RSS clients as it exists today is commoditized. Consumers don’t care about obscure options in these products – prosumers (heavy users) do but they are a niche – and practically everyone who is anyone has a RSS client or is coming out with one, from Google’s newly revamped Reader to Microsoft’s upcoming IE7 with integrated feed browsing capability, leading to the perception that they are fungible, in other words one is as good as another. Newsgator is cleaning up the enterprise market, and congrats to them for recognizing this opportunity early and more importantly, delivering what enterprise IT needed in a RSS server product.

The only opportunity for a newcomer in the RSS market, IMO, is to create a game change by radically reshaping what a RSS client does for a user. The sad fact of the matter is that RSS clients for all of their utility still don’t help me work better or enable me with some dramatic new capability that I can’t live without. Don’t get me wrong, I love NetNewsWire but I can go days without looking at it and not be worse off. I think we are at a point in the RSS market where we have a legitimate right to ask “what’s next?” and expect an answer that is something a lot more than just incremental to what we already have.

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Team Hoyt

If you don’t feel a few tears coming up as you read this father-son story and watch the video, well you just aren’t human.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992 — only 35 minutes off the world record, which, in case you don’t keep track of these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time.

The problem with partner “ecosystems”

I had breakfast yesterday with a former colleague from SAP (who himself is no longer with the company) and we were talking about Teqlo. He’s a real sharp guy when it comes to composition platforms, visual tools, and self-assembly, so I really look forward to hearing his thoughts and advice. At one point he said I should deliver some SAP BPP components in my catalog of teqlets (which is just our branded term for the actual components that represent services). I said to him that yeah I would like to grow into that but that my current market focus just doesn’t make the investment worthwhile for me.

In thinking about this through the day it occurred to me that the reason I had reluctance about toward this idea has nothing to do with the technology and everything to do with the business practices and culture imposing unnecessary risk for me in my fragile little startup. Coincidentally, I saw another friend of mine just a couple of days ago as he was on this way to his he-lost-count-becuase-he-has-had-so-many meeting with SAP because the last meeting with 12 people didn’t have the right person from some group responsible for the solution spec they should be building to. Same story, different partner… happens all the time. SAP and Oracle should respect the business time that partners invest in them and the cost they are paying as a consequence, and plot the quickest path to a solution as a key deliverable of the program itself. It’s not deliberate, in other words nobody at SAP is actively looking for ways to waste a partners time, but it happens nonetheless because SAP is that self-described big ocean going liner that takes a lot of time to stop or shift course. SAP’s version of time is like the Jupiter year, about 12 Earth years, while startup time is like the Jupiter day, about 10 hours long.

The question I would throw back at SAP is “why should I invest in your partner program when I’m not going to get access to your customers, am not selling direct, you aren’t building a marketplace that will put my products in front of prospective customers, and the cost to me is so great?”. The second part of this question is the killer one, I am consciously not building a direct selling model into this business for the simple reason that CIOs don’t want to talk to startups, a point that rung very loud and clear at M.R. Rangaswami’s conference a few weeks ago, and the problems that CIOs want to solve are not what we are trying to build to… we are following the idea of selling directly to users.

This is the problem that SAP, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM have created for themselves: they have done such a good job at hoovering up, with their services partners, every dollar in the wallet that CIOs carry that there is precious little opportunity for startups and other innovation leaders, yet all of these vendors are increasingly competing on the basis of their partner programs ability to attract partners into the ecosystem. If I can’t get to your customers either through your direct sales force or your indirect channel efforts, and your customers don’t want to talk to me independently, then why should I invest in your partner program?

That a startup like mine doesn’t see value in belonging to the NetWeaver or Fusion partner communities is something that should trouble SAP and Oracle respectively.

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Ingres Corporation — Dave Dargo’s Blog

Dave Dargo is not happy with Oracle for announcing Red Hat support.

Sometimes you just have to call bull*&#% on something and Oracle’s announcement on Linux is as great a candidate as any I’ve seen lately. Most of the pundits and analysts will focus on what this means for Red Hat and their valuation. In fact, Red Hat’s stock price was off 15% in after-market trading after the announcement.

Dave makes a compelling case on the economics as it relates to databases but misses a big point that Oracle is leveraging with this deal, which is that CIOs want to deal with fewer vendors not more so if Oracle can come to them and say “applications, check, database, check, operating system, CHECK” well that’s a pretty good proposition to be selling into.

Whether or not Oracle is doing this to deprive Red Hat of oxygen is unclear, as is whether or not this will be appealing to shops that are not already Oracle db customers. Personally, I doubt that it will be that appealing to non-Oracle shops but that won’t slow down Oracle. Dave’s arguments against this are largely based on the economics of Oracle’s database… fine, but we’re talking operating systems here.

The open source community painted this picture and now Oracle is adding their own signature, I think it’s a little disingenuous of Dave to cry foul when Oracle is doing nothing but taking advantage of the model that the open source companies proudly promote as their advantage.

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7 Technical Barrier for Office 2.0

Ramana (welcome back to the blogosphere… we missed you) posted a nice summary of his experience moderating a panel at Office 2.0 and 7 technical barriers to adoption. It’s hard to find fault in anything on the list, and furthermore, what is interesting about several of them is that they aren’t technical barriers at all but rather strategic decisions the service providers need to make. Case in point is single sign on, which could be achieved today using OpenID but probably won’t because too many of these services have business models that rely on capturing user data. Actually, that’s highly speculative of me because in many cases I really don’t know what the business model is, however, it’s hard to not get hit with a pitch presentation these days that doesn’t have a slide about “advertising” in it, in which case having granular customer data is pretty valuable.

As an aside, Zooomr uses the MyOpenID service and it seems to work pretty well, which is where I got educated on the whole openid project. We’re taking a look at it here because managing a user directory is something that quite honestly I would rather not have to do… we do have an area that we are building out for roles and security events which is pretty important but there is nothing that prevents us from using an open source directory and saving ourselves from the hassle of having to build one.

Lastly, I do want to add one more barrier to Ramana’s list: Provisioning and Integrated Billing. Aside from the fact that no user is going to want to have 50 usernames and passwords for their office 2.0 scenario, they also aren’t going to be satisfied with 50 URLs and 50 bills to maintain, assuming that these services ultimately settle on a subscription or consumption revenue model. We really need something like a Visa model or a Star Network like it exists for ATMs whereby all of these services are hooked up to a common transaction backbone for billing and payments and the customers pays at one place. There is a business in here somewhere, I’m just not sure what all the dimensions are and more importantly, these services are still far too early in their life-cycle to see the advantages of adopting a scheme like this.

Ramana Rao ~~ Information Flow blog ~~ 7 Technical Barrier for Office 2.0:

Single Sign-On — I can’t imagine anybody attempting any degree of real Office 2.0 life (say 25% of time w/ online apps) having fewer than 50 online logins. It’s of course, a huge pain to manage all those logins, not just the process of logging in, but also the constant shroud of whether you are being “safe” (and who is?). It’s particularly a concern when Email addresses are so prominently used as IDs and wireless networking is so wide open.

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