We are planning a branding expertise this week and in the spirit of all good workshops the moderator sent us some pre-work (AKA homework if you ask my kids). One of the questions were:
What are your thoughts on what makes some brands inspirational while others struggle?
In order to answer the question, I listed the brands I like: Apple, Amazon, Virgin Atlantic, SPG and Facebook to name few. When I thought of these brands, I found one thing in common: All are brands I like talking about with my friends and colleagues. A great brand is one that its target audience wants to speak about.
Why does it matter to my branding exercise? Read the rest of this entry »
The only advice CEOs are getting nowadays is to cut costs and be more frugal. This is a good advice but I don’t think there is any CEO with a pulse that hasn’t heard it before. The other issue with cutting costs is that at best, it will allow you to survive 2009 and show vital signs when the economy is back on track. It would not create a competitive advantage nor will it help you deal with the next crisis or external change in the market place. The real test for a CEO is not cutting costs in time of crisis but rather finding a repetitive way to reinvent her company as market conditions change.
Take Salesforce.com. Not too many companies were able to grow from zero to billion dollars a year in less than a decade. Even mighty SAP took 20 years or so to touch the billion dollar marker. Do you remember how it all started? Salesforce.com started as, yes, sales force Automation company with a very narrow focus and commitment. Later it has expended to become a full CRM package (and picked “CRM” as its NYSE ticker). Nevertheless, in the last 3 years salesforce is becoming a platform company and pushing initiatives like force.com and App Exchange. Without judging the wisdom behind the changes, Mark Benioff built a company with “change” in its DNA. Not only does it want to change every few years, the company knows how to change and it is doing it enough to get really good at it. Read the rest of this entry »
I had an enjoyable lunch meeting with a general partner in a leading Bay Area VC firm and during the discussion he wanted to compare notes on the way I evaluate a good SaaS company. I thought that my answer may be of general interest for employees or investors in the space- so here goes… Read the rest of this entry »
“Tear down this wall” was the famous challenge from United States President Ronald Reagan to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy the Berlin Wall.
The best thing to do when you have only one strategy for your company is to say there is only one strategy in the world. It makes you right automatically which is a great boost for anyone’s ego. When Marc Benioff came with the famous no-software tagline, he was trying to make a point. As the only SaaS game in town, in a market dominated by Siebel, playing the no-software card helped Salesforce.com differentiate itself and win, leaving all its competitors far behind. I understand the marketing wisdom behind “no software” but I don’t agree with this claim. It will be as reasonable for Toyota to declare the death of a non-hybrid cars.
But why do I even bring “no software” up? It is all because Lawson CEO predicted the death of SaaS and carefully explained that he has only one strategy too: YES software. I don’t even want to get to the argument who is right: Benioff or Debes . Debes is entitled to have his own opinion even if I think he is terribly wrong. Nonetheless, most of the reasons he provided to support his point of view are either wrong or bluntly anti-customer. Read the rest of this entry »
Office 2.0 is just around the corner and I am preparing for my session (going 100% SaaS) by interacting with my panelists and doing some thinking. My current thread is thinking about IT and its traditional role vs. its new role in the SaaS era. There were ups and downs in the way IT viewed SaaS and now it seems that IT professionals divide into two camps: the ones that strongly embrace SaaS, and the ones that wait for it to go away.
In general, the ones that want it to go away like control, like hands on approach and rather do the tactical work as a way to keep their kingdom intact. If you work for a startup you may not believe me but in a big company your worth goes up with the number of people you manage and you don’t want to lose anyone you gained. Read the rest of this entry »
I was invited by my friend Ismael Ghalimi to host a panel during Office 2.0 about my favorite topic, SaaS. The session is about going 100% SaaS and what it means. My panelists are Dan Druker from Intacct, Doug Harr from Ingres, Rob Hull from Adaptive Planning and Rene Lacerte from Bill.com. What’s great about this team is that they are all senior executives that pioneered SaaS either with their current company or in previous lives: Dan was part of Postini (later sold to Google), Rene co-founded PayCycle, one of the best kept SaaS success secrets in the valley, Rob co-founded Adaptive Planning in 2003, when no one believed SaaS will ever happen and Doug spent 5 years with Portal Software, that was acquired by Oracle. We would not be lacking perspective here…
In the next couple of weeks I will share my thoughts about the 100% SaaS goal as I progress in preparing for it. For now I wanted to go back to the title, and explain the interesting story behind Office 2.0 and its connection to the Burning Man festival. Read the rest of this entry »
You thought you only bought an iPhone. $199+ sales tax and you are all set. Little did you know that Apple disguised a little robot inside the iPhone that has one goal in life: boost the sluggish economy. Just like Bill Gates and his foundation Steve Jobs joined the philanthropic club of successful CEOs, dedicating themselves for the greater good- in this case, introducing the Apple version of the economic stimulus package. Read the rest of this entry »
I am in an iPhone mood. Just like the rest of the world. It will go away, I promise. Last week I tried to answer a more fundamental question: Should you build an iPhone app? Now that you built one: how would you price your iPhone application?
Here are some interesting statistics: based on Tech Crunch’s mid day iPhone App Store download statistics from Friday, the top 10 free apps had a total of 68,452 downloads where the paid ones (mainly games) got a total of 4,484 downloads. It means that only 1 of 15 downloaded app was a paid one. I suspect the overall numbers are even lower. Why? The ratio between the number one paid app (Monkey Ball) and the number one free app (Remote) is about 1 paid to 9 unpaid. If you look at the last apps in the top ten list the ratio is now 1 to 25- which means that the longer the tail is, the more unlikely you are to make money on your app. Read the rest of this entry »