Company: Jive Software
Located: Portland, Oregon
Market: Social Business Software
Key Customers: Intel, Nike, VMware, NetApp, SAP, ManTech, Embarq, and National Instruments
Website: Jive Website
Blog: Jive Blog
I asked Matt Tucker, one of Jive Software’s founders and Chief Technology Officer a few questions about his business and his view of the SaaS market in 2009.
Did you start out as a Software-as-a-Service company?
No, actually we started about 8 years ago providing community and social software as a hybrid business, offering both on-premise and hosted solutions. Our initial products were low-cost discussion forum software.
We initially bootstrapped the company in Manhattan and it became too expensive for us and we felt that being a technology company, we needed to be on the West Coast. Our first thought was the Bay Area but it was still too expensive and we had concerns about hiring engineering talent in other West Coast cities. Finally we decided on Portland, Oregon. After the move to Portland, we rebooted the company from an operational perspective.
In 2004, we launched our new software suite based on our customer’s feedback and market changes centered around Web 2.0. Later we added in Wiki’s, blogging software, and released Clear Space 1.0 2007, which was the market’s first complete suite approach to Social business software. Our suite was true enterprise-grade software and it supported large communities.
Then about three years ago we launched our SaaS offering and recently launched our newest product suite focused exclusively on Social Business Software — Jive SBS.
Why do your customers buy from Jive?
We feel Jive SBS is the leading product in our market from a feature and function perspective. Other firms in the social software space like, IBM Lotus, and Microsoft SharePoint, offer solutions but they are not as functionally complete as Jive SBS. There are also consumer-oriented sites like Facebook but they are not enterprise-ready solutions and large customers get very nervous allowing employees to publish sensitive information where the public has access to it.
Jive Software is enterprise software, which means it needs to be really secure. Our products are so secure, that even the US Intelligence Community uses them. Compliance and security questions are common when it comes to building external communities. We find that being SAS70 Type II is helpful but is IT not ready for critical corporate data to be hosted externally in SaaS or the Cloud.
Many of our customers will use Jive to create external communities to sell and market their products and services. They like the fact that they don’t need to work with IT to get started or to maintain their communities. We definitely have some early adopters now like – Apple, Nike and CNN, but we think it might 2 or more years for social collaboration software to be widely accepted as a SaaS or Cloud solution. Keep in mind that corporate-wide communications and collaborations are more sensitive, because most companies don’t want their proprietary intellectual property freely available out on the Internet.
Jive Software enables companies need to effectively manage this valuable Social Capital, which is just like intellectual capital. Think of it as a combination of institutional knowledge and a company’s culture. Being able to manage a company’s Social Capital is increasingly important today with companies being global, with teams everywhere, less business travel and their corporate cultures that revolve around email.
What do you see as the key trend emerging in the SaaS industry?
Cloud Computing is the major trend for our market.
Jive is definitely moving towards Cloud Computing and in fact, I blogged about this topic a few months ago when we launched Jive Express, our new Cloud-based offering. We are leveraging Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure, which allows our customers to get up and running quickly – they can put up a community instance in about 4 minutes. It’s self sign-up and the security is the same as enjoyed by our SBS enterprise customers.
We think this approach to Social Business communities is cool because customers can solve very specific problems quickly, then other groups inside their enterprise get to see the product in action and then it can spread virally. Customers can try using our Cloud-based offering free for three months and then it converts over to $3/user/month subscription. We are hoping that most of these Jive Express customers will grow their instance, which should generate lots of new leads and pilots for us.
We are approaching the Cloud a little differently than those who are offering a pure multi-tenant model, because we are leveraging virtualization and more of a single tenant model, which delivers many of the benefits and a similar price point as multi-tenant.
We are now using virtualization as the backbone for our SaaS offerings and leveraging Amazon’s AWS infrastructure, so we can now manage our Jive Express Cloud as one large instance.
What is your outlook for 2009?
Jive continues to celebrate after every quarter because we keep exceeding their numbers. We believe we are in a very solid market space and Social Business Software is a critical and strategic priority for more and more companies. Because companies want to do more with less, they will continue to leverage enterprise technology like ours.
We are cautiously optimistic and building a business continues to be a lot of hard work but things seem to be going our way.
Thank you to Matt Tucker and Mike Marfise for contributing to this profile.