Jive is releasing a new version of Clearspace with what we think are some really cool improvements on September 13th. We thought it might be fun to invite the Portland blogging, podcasting, and influencer community in for a sneak peak on Tuesday, September 11th. Everyone is welcome to attend! The Details: Date: Tuesday, Sept. 11 Time: 5:30 - 7:30 pm Where: Jive Software 317 SW Alder St Suite 500 (5th floor) You can RSVP on Upcoming if you are interested in attending.
We get to do a demo of our new Clearspace release
We're happy to answer questions about our new VC investment from Sequoia, about our job openings, or any other topics.
What You Get:
Free food & drinks
The ability to blog, podcast, etc. about these new features 2 days before the official release
Time to ask questions about Jive Software
How to Get Here:
The Jive Software Office is on SW Alder between 3rd & 4th.
Parking is available in a nearby parking garage, and it is short walk
from the Max / bus lines (Directions).
<span style="padding: 10px; float: right">content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/08/PID_012309/Podtech_Intel_Open_Port.flv&totalTime=265000&permalink=http://www.podtech.net/home/3953/intel-launches-social-media-experience-open-port&breadcrumb=c216839db83a47d4a579c80e249d638c
</span>Today, Intel launched Open Port, Intel's "first public online community," a site dedicated to direct communication between Intel's product & technology experts and the IT community. The video below does a better job than we could in explaining what the community is all about. One of the many quotes I liked was
"To talk to your end user is a must. The longer it takes to make that connection the more you become disconnected from your end user and what they need and want."
Intel shows the right leadership in welcoming a myriad of views and opinions as well as their plan to engage deeply with their community. The site officially launches next week. Be sure to check it out!
Clearspace 1.5 was released today featuring a solid list of improvements. Of note is the ability for blog authors and administrators to edit and delete blog comments from three places: inline in the end-user UI; in the blog management area; and, from the Admin Console. Two new blog-related reports were also added for measuring the number of blog comments and blog trackbacks to the system.
There were many other improvements and bug fixes that you can check out in the changelog.
I remember chatting with the PC World people just a few months ago. They have a really active community and they wanted a way to bring together different content and provide readers, as they put it, "the freedom to create and share" what they know.
Reading through the community feedback, it looks like they're well on their way. As their community manager put it:
This is one of the best post-launch days I've had on any community.
We applaud PC World for their leadership, innovation and commitment to providing value to their loyal readers.
If you haven't seen the news yet, the word is out on the biggest Jive news in a long time: we took a $15M round of investment from Sequoia Capital. We're all thrilled about it. It was a great milestone and a nice validation for a lot of hard work, but more importantly, the best path to maximizing a huge opportunity in a rapidly growing market...not to mention, a great way to see how creative journalists can get by using the word "Jive" in their title.
I thought I would send a few thoughts on why we're fired up about this, why we went this direction and how we plan to use the $ ongoing.
Why did we raise the money?
Since the beginning, we have had a vision of open collaboration and how it can fundamentally transform the way a company works. Now the market is starting to agree with that vision and is seeing the benefits.
We're proud of how we have grown this business over the last six years. We've been profitable since inception and have put good money in the bank. We have made our share of mistakes and missteps, but we haven't sacrificed our values and ultimately those mistakes made us stronger and smarter. This year we struck a mighty vein with Clearspace when we launched in February. Now the growth is in high gear and bringing on a funding partner is a step towards becoming the provider of choice in the market.
Sequoia has a very good handle on the market, and they saw the opportunity in the same way we did - companies were stuck between too much structure (Sharepoint) and too little structure (hundreds of point solutions), and were willing to pay money to have an integrated, community collaboration system for their employees and their customers.
So when they met Jive, and found a company that had real customers, solid revenue, profitability, a motivated team, a great product, and a track record of execution, it was a perfect fit. We want to win as much as they do, and will do what it takes to get the right people involved.
Hands-down, these guys have one of (if not the) best track record of any VC (Oracle, Apple, Cisco, Yahoo, Google, YouTube, etc.). They brand themselves as "the entrepreneurs behind the entrepreneurs," which in our experience seems to be true. There's a lot of operational experience in those walls and they work very hard for their companies. What else?
1. Smart Growth: They allow us to see the world through a longer-term lens. Instead of making decisions in the interest of short-term profitability, we now have the ability to make investments that support our larger goals, such as acquiring a key technology or investing in remote offices.
2. Recruiting: As the growth continues, making sure you get the right people on board is paramount, and a good investment partner can attract great talent.
3. Partners: We've done a great job building relationships with the likes of SAP, Oracle and IBM, but there's a lot more opportunity out there. Sequoia not only knows the right people, but is well-connected to the rapidly changing needs of those potential partners.
4. Mgmt assistance: We've got a great management team in place, but having such a stellar set of coaches helping you out makes a big difference. These folks have seen these challenges many times before, but are still open to creativity and not treating the business plan as a formula.
5. Advisors/board: As we build out the board and advisory board, they can help think through and attract the right folks.
6. Guidance: If we ultimately decide to take the company public, or if the company were to get acquired some day (not in the plans), these guys are the ones we want to have in our corner.
Not much. We still have the same values and team. We're still laser focused on solving business problems and creating value for our customers. We've proven that we can grow this business profitably, so there's no "shoot the management team" attitude that a lot of VC's have. And we're still looking very hard for great team members.
What this does mean is that we're going to get a lot more focused on the long-term goal of winning the market, as well as building out the infrastructure to support our rapidly growing customer base. This means investing in international offices (where we already have a lot of customers), building out the infrastructure for support and sales, adding much needed engineers to our R&D team and building out the marketing to make sure we're continuing to meet our customers' demands.
Definitely. We are proud of our heritage as a bootstrapped company. It's helped to shape a culture of discipline and customer focus, and it's always fun to say that we never raised a dime. Plus, there's a few folks in this office that are a bit suspicious of VC's. And for good reason - there's a lot of bad ones out there who destroy companies in the name of selfish interests or bad management. But this situation is different for several reasons:
One VC: not a bunch in the room arguing for their own needs.
Minority stake: they're along for the ride, not driving the ship.
Great firm: these guys didn't get where they are by forcing bad decisions.
In short, we couldn't be happier with the outcome. We are ready to take this company to the next level, and look forward to a productive relationship with Sequoia.
You use the word "brand" a lot
That word is used so broadly, obscurely and recklessly, it's meaningless to me. Not to mention that it's rarely used in a context I agree with. Leave brand to consumer packaged goods and let's focus on delivering meaningful and remarkable value through the company.
Your market is actually other marketers.
Most marketing people don't know their market at all. Their "market" is what they read in articles, analyst reports and in talking with their agencies. Rarely do I find someone who actually gets out there and has continual conversations with people to truly understand them.
You're guilty of being invisible
Paint by numbers doesn't cut it. Granted, most people haven't had the chance to do brilliant Marketing, but at least be able to tell me how you took a risk and how it paid off.
You think in terms of advertisements
Real ideas come way before you ever communicate them. People focused on advertisements never let the idea bloom. If marketers can't articulate how to notify someone in a compelling way, I don't want to hire them. Advertisements are horrible and all of us have become experts at avoiding them.
We're a creative company with creative products addressing a creative market. Triple the reason to be amazingly relevant with powerful ideas that you know how to pull off.
If marketing people aren't voraciously consuming, internalizing and changing their skills they've already given up.
Everyone and no one is doing the work in huge companies. If you haven't owned it, you can't know how to do it or be smart about it.
If they can't influence me in their resume or interview, how can I expect them to influence the market?
Writing is making ideas clear for everyone. Good writers are good marketers.
Marketers' jobs are to change the market. You can't be a good marketer if you can't stand change.
Have an opinion. Stand up for yourself. Don't just accept what I say.
Take a step back. Are you spending your time on things that will make (the right) impact? What is required down the road? Don't drive while contemplating the inside of the car.
We have a fantastic product. It changes the way people work with each other. If you can't fall in love with that and market from the heart, we don't need you on our team.
That's right, I don't want someone that's awesome at keeping 300 things going. People who chase everything get nothing done. I want someone that kicks *** on one thing and then moves on.
We were happy to learn that the Computing Technology Association (CompTIA)
the leading trade association for the world's IT industryawarded Clearspace with the Software Innovation Award for " Most Innovative General Business Software."
This is Clearspace's first award and it's from an organization we really like, too. David Sommer, head of Software CEO and vice president, e-business and software solutions for CompTA, said that Jive was "definitely right in a very sweet spot with an incredibly hot solution set that I believe is right on the money." Congrats to the Clearspace team and all our Clearspace customers!
In the last few years, every time I spoke to a VC, I would ask them to share a nugget of wisdom with me -- some piece of knowledge that was important to them. Since I was giving them insights into our industry, I figured that they in return could give me some thought-provoking idea. They usually complied. Some were lame, some were great. But one of my favorites was to do a reference customer adoption program.
The idea is that one of the best ways to get great reference customers is to have each member of the management team "adopt" a customer. This means they have to visit them, listen to their needs, help plan their rollout, understand the metrics they're tracking, and basically act as a free implementation consultant to guide them towards a successful rollout. In return, we learn about what it takes to make our product successful at a ground level, and hopefully we get a solid case study.
At this point, Sam, Scott, Bill, Matt and I have almost all selected our "adopted customers" for the plan. They're all great customers who have a vision for collaboration and the sponsorship to make it happen. I don't think we can talk about who each selected yet (have to deal with legal departments), but I hope to have some more stories soon.
Once a month the entire company gets together (beer and snacks provided) for a brainstorming session that we call Blue Sky. This month we broke into several groups and brainstormed small but tasty features for Clearspace. Hmm... what else is small and tasty? M&M's of course. Hence, the idea of feature M&M's was born and one of them quickly made it into the product. Check it out in Clearspace 1.4 by visiting someone's profile and you'll see a list of other people who have similar profiles. Why brainstorm this topic? It's often the little features that make a product special. On the other hand, it can be pretty difficult to get enough attention for the individual features to make it into the roadmap. Each of the ideas has been written onto a piece of paper (in the appropriate shape of course) and then put into a special bowl.
Whenever an engineer has a little time they can grab an M&M (no cherry picking), then attach it to the M&M board and implement it. Here is a shot of the M&M board just after installation:
This week Aaron Johnson, the big developer brain behind the blogging (and way more) parts of Clearspace and I are headed up to Seattle for Gnomedex, "The Blogosphere's Conference." The conference bills itself as an interesting "crossroads between producers and observers, between users and developers." I like the fact that everyone attends the same, single track and that they've thought about solving the annoying aspects of most technology conferences, like that there's never a place to plug your laptop into and that your wifi is spotty at best. I hope to hear some new ideas and meet some new people.
I was one of those Apple fanboys that got his iPhone the first week they were out, so I've used mine for a while now. Recently, I met with Mike Rogoway who writes both for Mac Newsworld and the Oregonian and he asked me how I liked it. It's an easy answer: I like it.
But as a Marketer, the one thing that drives me nuts about the iPhone is the home screen. It's gorgeous. It works great. And, for the most part, I like how Apple decided to utilize the home screen icons to let me know there's something new. Whenever I have a new SMS, phone message or email, a little red dot with a number is overlaid on top of the icon.!http://img300.imageshack.us/img300/7008/iphonecritiquemh4.png!
But for the life of me, I can't understand how Jobs, the ultimate Marketer and Product Manager, let the iPhone out the door with the Calendar icon working the way it does. Along with the little red numerical dots, the Calendar icon is the only other icon that's actually updated with real information. It shows today's date, without the need to launch the Calendar.
Why would Apple introduce this concept, of near-time information displayed at a glance, without holding this one part back and then rolling the same intelligence across the entire interface and calling it "a new feature?" Now, every time I look at my iPhone's screen I end up staring at the weather, the stock market, the time, and the map while thinking, "why are you other icons so dumb, while your calendar friend so smart?"
Clearspace 1.4 was released yesterday and includes two great new features. First up is a Popular Content section included in each space that highlights the most viewed and commented content at a glance. This feature helps people find the most useful content quickly when they are new to a space.
The second new feature shows a list of people with similar profiles on each user's profile page.
There were also a huge number of bug fixes. See the full changelog for the details.
At Jive Software, we had a great time at last week's OSCON right in our hometown of Portland, Oregon.
On the community front, we launched our new Jivespace Developer Community at OSCON. The community is built on top of our Clearspace product, and we are getting great participation within the new community. I also hosted a meetup for community leaders on Tuesday evening. It was well attended and people seemed to enjoy it. Danese Cooper and I also pulled together another "Art of Community" panel with Jimmy Wales, Sulamita Garcia, Whurley, Karl Fogel, and Brian Behlendorf. The session was standing room only, and Robert Kay described it as "awesome". We also have the entire session on video available on our Jivespace Developer Podcasts and Videos Blog.
Matt Tucker gave a talk at OSCON about Jingle, an extension to XMPP (Jabber) that's primarily used for VoIP. We also participated in the XMPP Devcon event. The slides from Matt's presentation and links to notes about XMPP Devcon are on the Ignite RealtimeBlog.
We also hosted a great after party at OSCON with great attendance and entertainment provided by Jive Employee DJs. Here are a few video highlights from the party.
Back in April, I blogged about how we were adopting a release train model for our Open Source projects. Since then, we've rolled out the same process to our commercial products Clearspace and Jive Forums. The release train is a fairly fundamental departure from how we've done releases in the past, so we wanted to provide more details about exactly how it works.
Why did we make a switch in how we build our software? There were many motivating factors, but the general theme is "move as fast as possible with high quality". For end users of our products, the key thing to know is that there will be a new release every three weeks. Each version contains bug fixes and new features and we're committed to maintaining high quality for every release (no more rushed bug fixes a week after a release). The graphic below illustrates how this process works:
Each release (from top to bottom of the graphic) takes a total of nine weeks: three weeks of planning, three weeks of development, and three weeks of QA. All three processes run in parallel, which leads to the three week release cycle.
Answers to common questions:
Q: Do we expect customers to upgrade every three weeks?
A: No, that's unreasonable in most environments. We've made it as easy to do upgrades as possible, and we hope you'll upgrade at least once per quarter to take advantage of all the great changes. When you do upgrade, the release train process will help ensure you're on high quality code.
Q: How will version numbers work?
A: Each release will get a minor version number: 1.5, 1.6., 1.7, etc. Major version numbers will change approximately once per year.
Q: How will you develop major new features that take more than three weeks?
A: Good question. No model is perfect and we're already working on new features that will take more than one train cycle to fully finish. In those cases, we're breaking the projects into milestones and using code branches as necessary.
Other Release Train Fun
The release train has had a deeper cultural impact than just being a way that we engineer our software. The marketing team now times a lot of their work on the train, and even our major happy hours are now on the three week cycle. Late afternoon of every third Friday, we gather the company for a demo of the new features and then adjourn for partying.
Time will tell how well this new process works, but we're excited about it and the results so far are promising.