Even as Portland-based Jive has continued to set performance records quarter after quarter, one component of their executive team was missing: the Chief Marketing Officer role formerly held by Sam Lawrence. Today, Jive announced that that piece has now fallen into place with the hiring of Ben Kiker as the new CMO.
I’m unofficially dubbing tonight “awards night” for the Pacific Northwest tech scene, given that we had two competing awards shows—Oregon Tech Awards and the Seattle 2.0 Awards—handing out statuettes to impressive tech companies all up and down the Pacific coast.
For the Oregon Tech Awards, two Silicon Florist regulars managed to walk away with top honors. Jive Software was named the Emerging Company of the Year and GadgetTrak was named Cool Product of the Year. The only downside was that Ontier—another one on whom I try to keep an eye—was also in the running for Cool Product. Read More
A little over a year ago, Portland-based Jive Software announced that they were relocating to the Federal Reserve building. The decision was both a testament to their success and a signal that they were planning to continue to grow.
But for me, one of the most interesting aspects of their chosen location was their new proximity to a big Internet pipe running through the middle of Portland. Maybe, I mentioned to a few other folks, there was a reason they wanted to be sitting on that pipe. Maybe Jive is looking to deliver their product over the Web. The response? Maybe. Read More
Last October, Sequoia Capital‘s “RIP Good Times” was the bubble-bursting presentation heard around the startup world. And given that one of Sequoia’s portfolio companies happened to reside in our backyard—Portland-based Jive Software—we all knew full well that the bubble-bursting was going to be happening close to home.
It came in the form of layoffs for the young—and arguably successful—company.
I first heard about the Jive layoffs from Chris Kalani, one of the employees who was let go. Then, TechCrunch picked up on the Jive layoff story and things started to snowball. Unfortunately, the rapid escalation and swirling confusion seems to have precluded the real story from making it to the light of day.
In the piece, we finally get a glimpse into what happened last October. And how those changes impacted one of the most successful startups in the Silicon Forest.
The changes Jive has made since the Sequoia meeting illustrate the ways in which young technology companies have slashed costs and narrowed their focus in an effort to stay alive. “Jive is the poster child. They nailed it,” said Jim Goetz, the Sequoia partner who is on Jive’s board. In the quarter ending in March, Jive booked higher revenue than any quarter in its history and plans to start hiring again.
We also get some insight from CEO Dave Hersh about the actual numbers of employees who were let go and why.
Seven days after the Sequoia meeting, Mr. Hersh laid off 25 of Jive’s 150 full-time employees and several contractors. They included underperforming salespeople and three executives who lacked the skills to build a company past the start-up phase, Mr. Hersh said. He scrapped an instant-messaging project and let go of the engineers on the team.
That same afternoon, he called the remaining employees to the office’s open meeting space that Jive calls “Whoville.” Mr. Hersh first put up a slide with the names of the laid-off employees. He figured the remaining employees would not look around the room wondering who was missing and would thus concentrate on what he had to say. He detailed everything the company had done wrong. He borrowed from Sequoia’s presentation and told the staff that Jive needed to conserve cash, make swift and deep cuts and invest based on results instead of ahead of them, as they had when they overhired.
Finally, the Gray Lady looks into some of the changes the company made to bring in experienced talent to help the company improve its course.
In January, Mr. Zingale brought on John McCracken, who had been his vice president of sales at Mercury. Mr. McCracken, who is known inside Jive as Johnny Mac, went to work overhauling Jive’s haphazard sales process. Jive’s strategy had always been to try to sell software to anyone who called. Mr. McCracken considered it a waste of money to chase customers who did not really want Jive, especially as the recession made software a much harder sell.
Salespeople were instead trained to grill potential customers with questions about their budgets and goals and turn away customers that did not fit. “One of the best things you can do as a business is to learn to say no,” Mr. Hersh remembers Mr. McCracken telling him.
As painful as it may have been, cutting early and cutting deep seems to be having a positive return for Jive—and their investors.
Given that Jive had the ability to lead by example when it came to Sequoia’s advice, I sincerely hope the next “lead by example” moment for the company is continued success and a clear path to bigger and better things. Because that’s an example I’d love to see all of the other startups here in the Silicon Forest follow.
(Hat tip Nino Marchetti)
Portland-based Jive Software has been relatively quiet as of late. And that generally leads me to assume that they’re working on something new, but I didn’t really have much to go on as to what that might be.
Today, it all became much less clear. (Pun intended.)
Jive has announced that—for their newest release—they have abandoned the distinct Clearspace products in favor of launching a suite of tools entitled “Social Business Software.” And I’m sure it’s no accident that it just happens to be “version 3.0.”
Jive CEO Dave Hersh describes this new offering as the first new application category in business since CRM:
For our customers, SBS is the new enterprise category. The enterprise has been devoid of a new application category since CRM, and they see the advent of social software as the biggest change to happen to the enterprise in fifteen years. It’s now spanning every major vertical and the visionary leaders are seeing the gains that can be made by opening up collaboration and focusing on the people. This is especially true in a downturn, where throwing more money at business process software is not going to lead to huge value increases — you have to look to the areas where there is the most to gain, the white spaces in a company: the people.
Few companies have had the foresight of Jive to understand that—due to both external and internal forces—corporations would be dragged kicking and screaming into becoming much more social beings. This gives them an edge on insight, but they still have several goliath competitors with whom they compete, namely Microsoft and IBM.
Now, Jive is hoping to deliver the platform that helps enable this growing corporate predilection toward more social business management.
How is the market reacting to the news?
While there hasn’t been much from the enterprise-focused pubs yet, the tech blogs have taken a gander at Jive’s Social Business Software. Here’s what they had to say:
“With the downturn, you might assume that Jive was part of a fad that has passed…. But after talking to Chief Marketing Officer Lawrence, it sounds like that would be a mistake—Jive added 200 customers last year, bringing its total to more than 2,500, and many of those newer customers are paying for more expensive tools, so its revenue actually grew 70 percent. In fact, Lawrence says Jive is hiring. And a recent report from Forrester identified Jive and Telligent as the leaders in the ‘community platforms’ market.”
Jive Launches All-In-One Social Enterprise Software (TechCrunchIT)
“Modeled to offer Facebook-like features to enterprises, the software combines computing with social collaboration. The Clearspace app helps businesses hold collaborate on a variety of tasks, including holding discussions, sharing documents, blogging, running polls, and social networking features and more. The Clearspace Community app provides a platform that allows businesses to communicate effectively with customers and the broader community.”
“‘Enterprise software has been a boring category for 20 years, and Jive is here to change that,’ says Sam Lawrence, Jive’s chief marketing officer.
“You’d expect to hear something like that from an experienced marketer like Lawrence. Yet in this case, he is talking about a bold strategic move by a small company that has its sights set on becoming something like Facebook for the office, putting it on a competitive collision course with Microsoft, IBM, and a slew of startups that aim to help employees get better at collaborating. Jive has evolved to this point from its founding in 2001, before the days of social networking. Its early forays into social software involved online forums and instant messaging, and were focused on support— things like getting customers to help each other rather than call a company with time-consuming questions.”
“IBM’s Lotus Connections, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other players are approaching enterprise social-networking, but Jive Software wants to take some market-share of its own with its Social Business Software (SBS) platform. Jive claims that its software’s collaboration and profile features could make it ‘Facebook for the enterprise.'”
Jive Goes Bigger (Than Ever) (ITSinsider)
“I’m not sure you can announce your leadership in a category, but that’s what Jive has done with the announcement of its Social Business Software application suite—Jive SBS 3.0. The product does bring a deliberate focus to the logical organizational interests of a social enterprise– namely, Employee Engagement, Marketing & Sales, Customer Support, and Innovation. With that segmentation, along with an overhaul of its Jive Clearspace 2.5 released last summer, the software has been reborn—perhaps in the original image of its founders, according to Sam Lawrence, Chief Marketing Officer. With this new release, Jive is stridently targeting IBM and Microsoft customers with what could prove to be a superior solution.”
“From origins as a forums and instant messenger vendor, Jive launched ‘Clearspace‘, a single application with wikis, blog, discussions, instant messaging, rss, email integration and files into spaces organized by topic in 2006. This in turn morphed into internal (’Clearspace’) and external (’Clearspace Community’) focused versions.
Jive have now taken the industry segment phrase to rename Clearspace ‘Social Business Software’ (SBS), and are making a play as an enterprise class, company wide backbone for all facets of business collaboration.”
Jive unveils new social media business tools (Silicon Forest/The Oregonian)
“The concept is fascinating — Jive’s software uses a social networking interface to draw in and connect a company’s employees with one another, and with customers. At first blush it looks like Facebook, a format Jive hopes will help engage companies’ younger employees….
“Dave and the folks who started Jive, Bill Lynch and Matt Tucker, had lots of other thoughtful things to say about Jive’s outlook and Portland’s startup scene. I’ll have more on that, and more from them, in an upcoming article.”
Jive will be rolling out the new Social Business Software suite next week—but existing customer already have access. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception this latest iteration of Jive’s tools receives. Here’s hoping they get a positive response from both current customers and those potential customers waiting in the wings.
For more information on the latest release, visit Jive Social Business Software.
Portland-based Jive Software recently announced that they have hired John McCracken as Senior Vice President of Sales. McCracken comes to Jive most recently from Inovis, a maker of supply chain management solutions. Prior to Inovis, he worked for Jive board member Tony Zingale at Mercury Interactive. Mercury was acquired by HP in 2006.
Jive CEO Dave Hersh says, “John is a hugely talented sales leader who has worked with most of our other execs during his time at Mercury.”
The company has also announced that Bill Lanfri has joined its Board. According to his bio:
Some of his more recent experience includes Operating Partner at Accel Partners from 2000 – 2003, during which time he served as CEO of the Accel / Sequoia investment Big Bear Networks from 2000 to 2001. Before joining Accel, he served in 1998 and 1999 as CEO of Avanex Corporation (NASDAQ: AVNX). Prior to Avanex, he was a founding investor and key advisor to RedBack Networks (NASDAQ: RBAK). He has served on numerous boards in both advisory and initial funding capacities, including network security company Network Alchemy, acquired by Nokia Corporation in early 2000.
[UPDATE 2] Sam Lawrence, Chief Marketing Officer at Jive, via Twitter:
I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but in this case, I feel an obligation to report it.
I’ve been hearing rumors about Jive Software for a few weeks now. Enough so that I’ve asked for comment from Jive on what’s going down.
They haven’t been at liberty to respond. So I haven’t written anything.
Well, I just wanted to let you know that the rumors have escalated exponentially today.
Something is going down. And it doesn’t appear to be good. But I can’t confirm that.
I’ll let you know when I hear more. Again, I’m not looking to further the rumors, but there’s too much activity for this to be a coincidence.
If you have any insight, it would be appreciated.
In the meantime, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for the folks at Jive.
Portland-based Jive Software—which VentureBeat dubs “one of the more successful startups offering collaborative software to large corporations”—has announced the latest release of its Clearspace product, Clearspace 2.5.
It’s a release that marks a decided step forward for one of the darlings of the Portland startup community.
In my opinion, it’s always a smart move to “let people work where they’re comfortable” while providing tools that extract and share data with the enterprise as a whole. Clearspace 2.5 does this in spades, ensuring that Clearspace has a more deeply integrated position among a number of traditional enterprise communications tools.
Just as important, the release marks a decided move from Clearspace as a tangential and “nice to have” social media service to the role of aggregator and “nerve center” for all communications within the enterprise. A role which Jive’s CMO, Sam Lawrence, describes as moving from a presence in the organization to full-fledged “ubiquity.”
But what exactly does that mean? Well, let’s let Jive tell it:
According to VentureBeat, these seemingly straightforward improvements are all the more powerful in combination:
None of the features are all that innovative on their own, but collectively they mark a smart move forward. For one thing, users can now participate in discussions, check updates and more via text message or email, so Clearspace becomes more accessible and useful outside the office. In addition, Clearspace now integrates with customer relationship manage (CRM) service Salesforce.com, so a Salesforce customer account page can show relevant activity and information from within Clearspace. Finally, it’s now much easier to enable Clearspace-managed customer comments on any webpage by just adding a few lines of code.
And well-known social media proponent Chris Brogan sees the new Clearspace features as a way to weave social media into the workings of the enterprise:
We have to stop thinking of social software as an island. It’s going to be part of the fabric, and that requires integration points, connectivity to the way people create business processes, and flexible enough to fit within an organization’s existing business styles. I saw lots of that in Jive’s latest release, and Sam talked about the company’s further efforts in that department for future visions.
I know the Jive team—quiet as they have been—has been very much “heads down” working on this release. And, as a testament to that focus, they’ve released some very impressive features. What’s more, those features definitely embed Jive’s products more deeply into the enterprise environment.
Hopefully—for Jive’s sake and for Portland’s sake—we’ll see some forward thinking organizations jump at the chance to have this kind of social media interactivity behind the corporate walls, informing the actions of the employees. I’d like to think it could happen. And I hope it happens sooner rather than later.
[Update] Oopie. Apparently I beat Jive to the punch on posting on their own product. Here’s the official Jive post on the Clearspace 2.5 release.
Portland-based Jive Software has been a bit quiet as of late. Which is always a good sign that folks are up to something.
Clearstep is the first of its kind online community, powered by Jive’s own Clearspace product, for social and enterprise 2.0 practitioners. Now these professionals have a place to interact, share best practices, and gain access to a much wider range of perspectives on common community and collaboration issues. Clearstep is intended for all social and enterprise 2.0-focused professionals, including Jive customers.
Gia Lyons, Jive’s Director of Social Enterprise Evangelism… Um. I’m sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, Gia Lyons describes Clearstep as the “best business hook-up hotspot”:
Ever wish you could find someone working on social media or Enterprise 2.0 efforts at other companies, same as you? Wish you could pick their brain about how the heck they justified the implementation cost? Found that elusive ROI? Tricks to get employees to use it? Best way to communicate your new online community to your brand fanbase?
The fringe benefits for Jive hosting the site are immediately evident. Not only do they get a bunch of leading social media specialists talking it up about enterprise adoption of social media in Jive’s backyard, they also get those experts having that conversation while using Jive’s product.
It’s an interesting experiment, to be sure. But the question for me remains: Do people involved in social media experts—especially those within the enterprise—like talking to one another as much as they like talking to non-expert social media types? That remains to be seen.
[Update] Gia Lyons was kind enough to stop by and clarify this point. The community is actually for everyone—not “experts” as I had incorrectly concluded. So this truly becomes a social network focused on social media, open to anyone who is interested in participating. Obviously, the community was seeded with experts because, well, I mean who else would you seed it with?
Interested in participating in the Clearstep community?
If you are someone interested in social media
expert pursing that ever elusive “Enterprise 2.0” and Clearstep has sparked your interest, why not consider joining the community and giving it a test drive? Clearstep registration is currently open. Jive has done a great job of seeding the community, pre-launch, so that there is plenty of existing content in which you can root around.
For more information, see the Jive press release announcing Clearstep, Jive’s numbers, and recent hires.
Well, the good news is that she’ll be coming to Portland. The better news is that you’ll get the chance to spend some time with her—in person and in hardback—but you have to act quickly.
Charlene is going to be speaking on “creating social strategies that work” at the Internet Strategy Forum Summit in Portland on July 17. (So that’s your in-person time.) And, now, Jive Software has offered a free copy of Charlene’s new book, Groundswell, (that’s your hardback time) to the first 250 people to register and attend the event. (You have to be there to get the book.)
Groundswell provides Charlene’s analysis of some of the top corporate uses of social media strategies within and without the “enterprise.”
Who knows? Maybe you could get Charlene and Josh to autograph it for you?
But wait, there’s more
So, you get time with Charlene Li and you get her book for free. What could be better?
How about a discount on your registration fee? Yes? Yes!
That’s a lot of good news for one post. But quite frankly, gentle reader, you deserve it.
The Internet Strategy Forum is a professional association and peer networking group for management with responsibility for driving Internet strategy and implementation from within medium to large client-side organizations across multiple industries. For more on the organization and the summit, visit the Internet Strategy Forum.