When I joined NewsGator last year I knew the company had not just a great team but also an impressive portfolio of products. I quickly realized that we had something very unique among enterprise software companies, the ability to create a saas business that was not dependent on the enterprise business but whose success would further fuel the enterprise business. In other words, we didn’t have to rely on a hosted version of our enterprise product.
The move to make our RSS client reader apps free last week is part of a bigger strategy to realize the data services aspirations of the company by generating massive amounts of “attention data” that could then be used to drive new features within both our enterprise and consumer products, and offer us the ability to create a new business unit altogether.
I argued aggressively to make the client apps free, which to my great pleasure the rest of the leadership team embraced in mid November and through a frantic chain reaction of internal processes delivered on last week.
The results have been astounding, our client app download rate increased by several orders of magnitude, we pushed our data network to 2 million feeds for the first time in our history, we are collecting millions attention items daily (attention items are the actions users take on feeds), and inbound interest for our data services shot up dramatically.
Today our saas business is predominately a widget framework and underlying data services that we sell to media companies, over 100 of them to date. They use our widgets to deliver branded content, search services, and advertising to over tens of millions of unique visitors each month. While we continue to invest in this business and grow both our widget stats and, more importantly, the number of paying clients using them, we will also develop another set of products that deliver usage data as relevancy and attention APIs to third party content providers and ISVs.
Not lost in all of this is a march toward a fundamental principle that underpins my point of view on enterprise software, that consumer services are altering the very notion of what we call enterprise. We have large Fortune 50 companies telling us they also want consumer relevancy data to enhance their search and filtering capability behind the firewall, to expose and target new opportunities, and to displace expensive proprietary information services with free public data that we aggregate.
Building out our information data services specifically for the consumption by enterprise business users and IT is a key part of this strategy, which comes back to my beginning statements about unifying a business the includes consumer and business users, on premise and software as a service.