The Show Must Go On

One year ago, Webconferencing upstart Mshow.com was reveling in top-line growth and earning the sort of attention Hollywood media machines enjoy.

One year ago, Webconferencing upstart Mshow.com was reveling in top-line growth and earning the sort of attention Hollywood media machines enjoy.

What a difference 12 months make. In January, the company cut a quarter of its staff, leaving about 160 employees in its Denver headquarters and Austin, Texas, operations center. Last month, Bob Ogdon, Mshows CEO and founder, handed walking papers to another 100 staffers.

Today, hes making his way with a skeleton crew of 60 and a down-to-earth perspective. "Its a real world now, and everybodys fighting hard to make the changes necessary to match this real world," Ogdon says. Hes finding good news in the current market. "The one I was in before was a wild chase to grab market share and growth," he says. "The one Im in now seems more real."

Ogdon has other reasons for optimism. His shrunken staff has maintained steady sales, he says, and in March, privately held Mshow had gross profits for the first time in its five-year history. He attributes some of the companys success to the very cause of its troubles — in this shrinking economy, Mshows services are luring customers looking to cut training and marketing costs. "People are tightening their belts across the board," Ogdon says, "and everyones saying, Dont travel as much; find other ways to communicate."

For customers like Cisco Systems and Microsoft, Mshows streaming-enhanced conference packages are smart communications options. Mshows cyberconferences can connect up to 500 people by telephone and the Internet. Participants stream audio and video to their desktop computers and submit and answer questions via chat or telephone. "Were the only player that has integrated the telephone into a presentation with a stream," Ogdon says.

That feature is Mshows best selling point. "A corporation doesnt want to just broadcast and not get any feedback," Ogdon says. "Business requires interactivity." Mshow handles Webconferencing for about 300 customers, and provides services to resellers such as Akamai Technologies and Globix.

Ogdon says his staff-cutting days are now behind him. And as high-bandwidth pipes open and companies look for more cost-cutting measures, he sees better times ahead. "I think Im in good spot," he says. "Theres no question that the need to communicate in better, more efficient ways is there. And streaming is the technology that lets you do that."