For Sale: Web 2.0, for a Song?

Metaphor in technology selling is more about the protagonist, than the product. Back on Jan 11th Larry Dignan, editor-in-chief of ZDNet told us,

One Night Stand

"Expect to go shopping. As of Oct. 31, had $1.07 billion in total cash and marketable securities" and I immediately conjured up an image of the cherubic Mark Beniof in a colorful Hawaian shirt and thongs (on his feet) picking off melons in the Maui Whole Foods produce section. Flash to today’s column by Tom Foremski, declaring, "Salesforce $500m war chest – likely target is social media." In less than ten days, I go from seeing Beniof strolling down the produce section, to seeing Mark Beniof airbrushend into some commando costume on the cover of Fortune Magazine. Instead of a Hawaian shirt and thongs (again, thank God, on his feet), which is how I see him, in my mind’s eye, I see his button downed team of lawyers in full SWAT gear ready to deal the fawning statups into obvivion. Anyway, war chests aside, has anyone interviewed any of the guys who are on the check list from ZDNet:

  • SocialText, founded by Ross Mayfield, is based in Silicon Valley and offers a broad suite of social media applications for large enterprises. It includes a private “Twitter” service, plus social networking, wikis, blogs, distributed spreadsheets, blogs, etc.
  • Six Apart, founded by Mena and Ben Trott, based in San Francisco, is the developer of Movable Type, a popular blogging application. It also has a hosted (cloud) based service and most of its revenues come from enterprise customers.
  • BrightIdea, founded by Matthew Greeley, based in San Francisco, offers a cloud based ‘innovation management’ service used by large enterprises to source ideas from employees, and also from outsiders. This is a form of social media applied to crowd sourcing ideas.

Foremski tells us, "During the meeting Mr Harris said that Salesforce was looking at ideas on how to boost its revenue into the $10 billion range, from around $1 billion." Don’t you love the way these guys throw around these numbers, but the ratios seem a bit skewed somehow.

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Buyer’s Guide: Sales Force Automation
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"He said that Salesforce believes that social media in the enterprise is a larger business opportunity than CRM – its current business. It would make sense that Salesforce make acquisitions in the social media space, possibly companies with enterprise software tools already in place." And he actually said, he "would not be surprised to see Salesforce make several acquisitions." So Mr Beniof is going shopping and is going to attack the blogosphere, or social ethyr, to essentially grow his business to ten times its present revenue. We are still open for any CRM stories, histories or just plain urban legend in case you have some anonymous animas you would like to share.

Finally, Foremski sells the entire Web 2.0, possibly, to that cuddly ol’ Mark Beniof, "What’s clear is that Salesforce could snap up half-a-dozen leading startups in this space and still have a couple of hundred million left from the $500m it just raised. It could quickly corner the market for social media in the enterprise." Not only are those ZD guys great with their metonyms and metaphors, they are financial wizards when it comes to Web 2.0. They just sold the whole movement for a song. No word yet on how all those pesky open source guys fit into Beniof World, but I’m guessing the names listed may decide they want to take a really close look at payday. And then there is that other little detail so many forget when they invest in social networking or Web 2.0, it’s driven by actual people who know how to communicate.


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