Citrix to spin out Goto products, will cut ‘investment’ in Podio

Citrix has announced that the Goto family of products is being spun out, as part of a refocusing the company on its core capabilities. As Larry Dignan reported this morning,

Citrix will spin off GoTo as an independent company. Chris Hylen, who is the general manager of Citrix’s mobility apps unit, will be CEO. GoTo’s annual revenue is about $600 million. The company added that the spin off will happen in the second half of 2016. Citrix shareholders will have shares of two companies. The products included in the spin-off include GoToAssist, GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, GoToTraining, GoToWebinar, Grasshopper and OpenVoice.

The company says it will be cutting as many at 1000 employees and contract workers, and shutting down certain products.
Based on various discussions with Citrix folks earlier in this year I had a hunch that Podio — the work media solution they acquired in 2012 for $53 million — might be one of the products being retired. I contacted Citrix, and this was the response from Paul Dobson a Senior Director, Analyst Relations at Citrix:

I wanted to let you know that we are going to be reducing investment in Podio as a standalone product, and we will leverage the technology in other existing product.  It will not be offered as a standalone product moving forward.

I recommend that those currently using Podio consider getting off as soon as possible, since Citrix isn’t being very clear as to how long Podio will be running. Podio does support export of the data as an Excel file, so importing to other solutions is possible, at least.

Update 19 November 2015
I received a clarification to the information from Citrix yesterday, again from Paul Dobson at Citrix:

Hi Stowe –
I saw your article, and of course I should have asked for the context ahead of giving you the detail below – I wanted to specify that we will continue to support Podio as a standalone offering for our existing, current customers and we will enable them to add users to their environments, but our strategy for new customers will change in 2016, as per the below.

Bradley Horowitz is now running 2/3 of the former Google+

As reported last week, Hangouts, Photos, and Google+ are going to be considered as three independent product lines at Google, according to Sundar Pichai, product czar (see Sundar Pichai on the direction — or directions — of Google+). He said in an interview with Miguel Helft,

I think increasingly you’ll see us focus on communications [Hangouts], photos and the Google+ stream as three important areas, rather than being thought of as one area.

It has been confirmed that David Besbris, who has led Google+ (including Hangouts and Photos) has stepped down from that role, and that Bradley Horowitz, a VP of Product (formerly of Yahoo’s Brick yard initiative), is picking up the newly reimagined Google+. Well, sort of.

In a post that does not mention Hangouts — which presumably is now being managed as an independent line — Horowitz also avoids using the Google+ name, and instead refers to Photos and Streams:

Just wanted to confirm that the rumors are true — I’m excited to be running Google’s Photos and Streams products! It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users.

So it appears that Google+ has been cut into three parts, with Streams being the streaming part, Photos being the photos part, and Hangouts spun out on its own.

I am still hoping that Google take a version of Streams and integrate with Google Drive and Docs, where it would be more useful, rather than endlessly fighting an endless war against Facebook and Twitter.

So, the question is, when will they retire the Google+ brand? Horowitz has the product insight — I believe — to thread Streams into Google’s strong position in productivity with Docs and Drive. This would also follow the push that Microsoft has recently made with Groups in Office 365: a contextual conversation platform right where docs and created and shared.

Note that Google Glass is going through a similar retrenchment: failed product handed to a solid product person — Tony Fadell of iPod and Nest fame — who will reconfabulate the product and relaunch (see Google Glass isn’t dead, it’s going to be Nestified), but in the case of Google+, it isn’t going to be yanked, but trifurcated.

In other Google news last week, the company unveiled plans for a futuristic redesign of it’s Mountain View campus (see Google reveals plans for futuristic cityscape campus, and new robot tech to make it configurable), and announced the Android for Work initiative is now open for business (see Google announces Android for Work ready to go).

The impact of Facebook at Work? Huge.

Last week, Facebook announced the initial beta rollout of Facebook at Work, a version of the company’s flagship product configured for use as work media (‘enterprise social network’ or ‘social collaboration’). The iOS version is available for download. To actually use it, however, your company will have to be admitted to the beta, at this time.

Screenshot 2015-01-19 08.43.45 Screenshot 2015-01-19 08.44.05 Screenshot 2015-01-19 08.44.18

In principle, [email protected] is a productization of how Facebook is used at Facebook internally. I have not gotten a demo yet, but I hope to soon. Many descriptions have surfaced of how it’s supposed to work, as well as a Facebook at Work help page. Basically, users can create groups that match interests, projects, or organizational groups. Users can share events and calendars. [email protected] or Facebook Messenger can be used for direct 1:1 or 1:many chatting. Users can keep work and personal Facebook information separate, and can create a separate @work profile.

Vindu Goel was briefed by Lars Rasmussen, and my questions about the [email protected] newsfeed have been answered. I wondered if the newstream was going to be deterministic, or would Facebook be applying some filtering algorithm (see Facebook rolling out limited beta of Facebook At Work). I stated,

What I wonder about is the determinacy needed in business. If I post something in [email protected], I want to know that everyone that I intended to see it does in fact see it. That’s not how the Facebook newsfeed works today, at least in the consumer edition.

It appears that determinacy is absent, however. As Goel states,

A news feed sorts through posts it thinks are relevant to you, based on familiar factors like how often you interact with the person posting it, who you specifically want to follow and how many comments or likes a particular item is getting. “We keep track of who in the past you’ve been interested in,” Mr. Rasmussen said.

I think that might be problematic, unless the algorithm is always right, or unless people rely on direct messaging for anything that is critical.

Facebook has 1.35 billion users, and as a result the learning curve for [email protected] will be negligible, with even a large number of older workers now using it. In fact, the 55+ crowd is the fastest growing segment.

Facebook is going to be a major disruption to the work media marketplace, once they get all the pieces in place. At present, the service lacks integration with file sync-and-share services, which is an odd omission. I wonder if Facebook uses no files internally, or if in fact they have a homegrown file sharing capability that was not scalable? Or if they are madly scurrying to productize it, and plan to contend in that market sector, too?

Companies that have an investment in Dropbox, Box, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, or other file sync-and-share service are unlikely to transition to [email protected] and a new file sync-and-share service at the same time. But this is simply a hypothetical scenario, based on Facebook’s history of wanting everything.

The bottom line? Nothing will be the same again.

Huddle raises $51M in Series D

Huddle, the cloud-based work media company, has raised $51 million in a series D round, led by Zouk Capital, with participation from the Hermes GPE Environmental Innovation Fund, and with all existing investors involved, including Matrix Partners, Jafco Ventures, DAG Ventures, and Eden Ventures. Nathan Medlock of Zouk led the raise, and is now a member of the board. This news has been widely reported.

Huddle has grown considerably since I started tracking them a few years ago, and now has 170 employees with offices in San Francisco, Washington DC, New York City, and the UK. Huddle has seen sales to enterprise customers triple in the first three quarters of this year compared to last. Seven of the companies largest ten deals were closed this year, as well. Customers include Grant Thornton, Baker Tilly International, National Grid, P&G, Keolis, Williams Lea, Driscoll’s and Panasonic Europe.

As the Washington DC office indicates, Huddle has been growing quickly in the government sector. I spoke with co-founder and EVP of Strategy Andy McLoughlin of Huddle yesterday about this news, and he shared his perspective on the company’s growth and the increasing interest in government for Huddle. Like the private sector, government agencies are beginning to move away from legacy systems toward more modern tools for internal coordination and communication, and work tech as a service is becoming more common, and lower cost than on premise solutions.

Andy said that the company plans to expand the company’s operations in Western Europe and North America in the coming year, using the funds to push that initiative.

Huddle’s orientation toward integration with other productivity tools — like Word, Office, Sharepoint, and Outlook — where many knowledge workers spend a great deal of their work time, means that user adoption is accelerated. The close integration with Microsoft products has led to some acquisition feelers from Redmond, and others, too. But this round means the company does not have to look for a buyer since the funds allow for that expansion.

I am working on a Roadmap report on work media, to be released in early 2015, and Huddle is one of the featured vendors.

Samepage wants to get us on the same page: very 2010

Samepage is an emerging work-media tool based on the design metaphor of shared “pages” that are made up of widget-like elements: text regions, files, images, maps, events, tables, tasks, maps, videos, links, and HTML. There are associated comments for each of the objects. Its parent company, Kerio, has developed the product as a way to help cooperating teams see eye to eye, but it’s unclear that we need this in the workplace. In reality, we need to get our work done, and that requires a great deal of integration with existing tools rather than the approach Kerio has taken.

In a way, the tool reminds me of a better-structured wiki, partly because each page can have many sub-pages and the fact that pages are composed of structured elements.

Here’s the basic view of a Samepage page:

Screenshot 2014-11-30 14.32.04

As you see, the various widgets can be added to the region on the left while comments are shared in the right margin.

Here’s sharing options:

Screenshot 2014-11-30 14.33.41

Users can invite people by adding email addresses or by making the page public, allowinganyone with the URL to view the information shown.

Here’s a more elaborate page showing a calendar, images, and table:

Screenshot 2014-11-30 14.33.11

The Bottom Line

I understand that some contingent of social-collaboration users may want the flexibility that Samepage offers — namely the ability to integrate information elements of various types into a shared page. This is much like the desire to build custom websites or to tinker with presentation formats.

However, I am convinced that there is a social cost that comes from using solutions where each new page can have a unique layout: The invited participants must learn the layout of each one in order to effectively use them.

Just as important, each of these widgets is a simplified version of their counterparts in other tools. The table widget is something like a Google or Excel spreadsheet but much less feature-rich. Likewise, the task features are less rich than counterparts like Asana, Todoist, or Trello, and Samepage doesn’t support their integration as it does with cloud-file solutions.

And there is no way to convert a Samepage page to a Word document, which is a widely used format convertible to Apple Pages and Google Docs, and something that is easily distributed. Yes, you can publish to the web, but that’s not the same experience.

The fundamental question is this: Do people want all their shared information in a single, proprietary silo or do they want to distribute and integrate information in a collection of best-of-breed tools? The all-rolled-up-in one mantra seems very five-years-ago. In 2014, my bet is on the best-of-breed approach. Witness the rise of Slack as an exemplar of this.

Slack is largely a collection of chat rooms with a great search and user experience, built on the notion of being a central integration point with a network of cooperating applications. In this way, the user can converse with coworkers in the context of what is being discussed, like design documents, trouble tickets, customer support reports, and sales stats. However, that content is created and managed in best-of-breed applications that play nice with Slack. So Slack doesn’t have to manage all that content itself but simply presents it in context and provides deep indexing so everything can be found again.

So, the The San Francisco Hiking Club example page above might wind up being the sweet spot for Samepage: loosely connected groups that interact infrequently and that do not rely on a battery of mission-critical enterprise apps. But tightly connected coworkers communicating frequently about information produced by mission-critical enterprise apps will be unlikely to gravitate to Samepage.

Intralinks 2.0 released

Intralinks VIA is a highly secure file sync-and-share application, and the company has released Intralinks VIA 2.0, driven by the goal of bridging the gap between an increasingly mobile workforce and the security needs of the business. The application platform has been reworked with a new UX, and a significantly more mobile orientation.

There are now two versions of Intralinks VIA — Intralinks VIA Pro and Intralinks VIA Elite. Pro is more geared toward delivering an experience more like that of Google Drive — while Elite is a much more security-focused product.

While the design has been updated, Intralinks VIA still falls short of being a complete work media (enterprise social network) solution, specifically because the product lacks anything like activity streams where users can share updates. Therefore, it is not in direct competition with solutions like Microsoft’s Yammer/OneDrive/Office 365, or IBM’s Connections/FileShare but more of a competitor to Amazon Zocalo, Box, Hightail, and Syncplicity. However, the product has numerous features that make it highly attractive for secure document-centric use cases:

  • native document viewing/editing with built-in Microsoft Office Online and PDF viewing/annotation
  • desktop integration with Microsoft Office/Outlook and Adobe Acrobat
  • integration with Intralinks Exchanges and enterprise content  management (ECM) systems such as Microsoft SharePoint
  •  fully integrated docTrackr capability that includes plug-in free IRM
  • currently the industry’s only offering for customer managed keys (CMK).

Here’s a screenshot showing the new user interface:

Share Workspace

For more information, here is the press release.

Atlassian raises $150M on $3.3B valuation to buy back employee shares

Atlassian is an interesting company, unusual in many ways. The software development-oriented work management company employs not a single full-time salesperson, although the company has over 35,000 client companies and 800 employees.
It has been profitable for years, but it is raising a round, as reported by the WSJ and Venturebeat, to get some cash to employees and early investors rather than racing to a near-term IPO. So it’s bringing in $150 million on a $3.3 billion valuation based on a $200 million run rate.
Competing with Github on the developer support side, and Yammer, Jive, and other conversational work media companies  for other functions. Atlassian uses the camel’s nose approach: first it is brought into the company by developers, who use the company’s Jira and other developer and support-specific tools. Then, the developers start to engage with other functions — product management product marketing, customer support — with the company’s Confluence tool. Often that tool spreads across the company, and it starts with a dedicated community of developers infecting the entire company.
And the company is also wise to the way the world is headed, and acquired Hipchat in 2012, to increase its messaging offerings.

LinkedIn may be entering the work management market

LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner, in an interview at TechCrunch last week, expanded on his ideas about the “professional graph” — the network linking you to professional colleagues, and colleagues of colleagues — and growing that over the next ten years into an “economic graph” which would connect every worker, every  job, and profiles of every company, organization, and university. And then, he said “LinkedIn would get out of the way” and let them do obvious things.

Some of the vision he is spinning seems to parallel the idea of open work that I’ve written about: the premise that any company, of whatever size, would be able to use online services to connect and communicate with others. With customers and clients, yes, but more broadly with all sorts of agents in its marketplace. With potential employees or freelancers, with existing or possible service firms, and with other organizations. Given the right sorts of services built into an open work platform, a participating company would be able to lower the friction involved in hiring, outsourcing and insourcing, distributing manufacturing, and a wide spectrum of other activities. This is perhaps the largest recapitulation of the placeform concept (marketplace + platform = placeform) I’ve been writing about this year (see Let a thousand placeforms connect us, even as we loosen our connections). LinkedIn is uniquely positioned to bring this vision forward.

However, the initial steps for LinkedIn might involve a push into an established and growing market, enterprise social networks, which I call work media. They come at this from a different angle, since LinkedIn is an open professional network, with over 3 million active company profiles, and hundreds of millions of user profiles. Contrast this with products like Yammer and Chatter, which support basically no open public profiles, but are in user at thousands of companies in a closed fashion (by closed in this case I mean there is no open access as there is in Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn). So LinkedIn would be backing into the enterprise with an extension to the open services that companies and individuals already use.

Weiner mentioned that LinkedIn is already using an in-house version of LinkedIn that allows his company to be more productive:

[…] at LinkedIn we’re building tools that will enable us to get more value from our own platform. And success, to the extent that we generate the right kind of engagement and the right kind of productivity enhancement, we would then be in the position by virtue of the platform to think about productizing that.

[note: the Techcrunch videos are bit screwy. To see this interview proceed here, find the Jeff Weiner backstage interview and click on “related.” The Jeff Weiner onstage interview mistakenly links to a Dick Costello talk.]

He was asked by Eric Elden of TechCrunch specifically about Yammer and Chatter, and he responded this way:

We’d want it to be specific and unique to what we offer today. I think you would see greater emphasis on professional identity, for example. But again, there’s no definitive plans to offer that as a product. What we’re trying to do is leverage LinkedIn and as employees get as much value from that.

I could imagine a scenario where LinkedIn might develop the in-house equivalent of today’s collaboration-oriented work media solutions — a la Yammer and Chatter — or leapfrog into a more cooperative alternative, based on their orientation to the open professional graph. This would include capabilities for companies to not only search for employees and on ramp them into jobs, but also the workforce management services that placeforms like oDesk, and cooperative tools that connect and coordinate our work activities, and provide a social communication layer.

If LinkedIn takes this step it could be as transformative to today’s enterprise software market as Amazon’s forays into books and cloud computing.


SAP updates Jam

SAP updated Jam, the company’s work management tool, back in early August, and I confess I started a post on it but forgot it in a draft until today when I was looking for something else.

The biggest updates are various user experience tweaks, like “Group Overview Pages”, contexts where all the information associated with a project or activity can be aggregated. These can be based on templates, like “Help and Support” or “Topic”. Dynamic content widgets are now supported and these include activities, content, people, and forum updates.

jam 2

SAP has implemented what most would call task “pools” — a task can have multiple possible assignees — although they call those “shared tasks” which id confusing, since all sorts of task assignments are conceptually task sharing.

jam 1


Apparently there was a great demand for a complete overhaul of task management presentation, which SAP has tried to accomplish.

I am going to try to arrange for a more in-depth demo of Jam, as soon as possible.