After spending five years trying to become the eminent Enterprise 2.0 software provider, Socialtext is ready for a new phase.
Socialtext co-founder and CEO Ross Mayfield stepped aside Nov. 5 for new CEO and board member Eugene Lee, who will try to take the company’s new $9.5 million in financing and expand the business beyond its current 4,000 customers. Lee’s duties include running the company’s products, strategic alliances and sales, marketing and support organizations.
Mayfield has transitioned to the roles of chairman, president and co-founder, working with Lee to build up Socialtext at a time when the pump for social software in businesses appears to be primed. Mayfield told eWEEK the move would allow him to focus on special projects to gain strategic advantage, which includes spending more time with customers.
“We’re looking for really cool and exciting patterns of success and adoption in the consumer-facing Web 2.0 space, and then implement, adopt and take to market enterprise versions of those major patterns,” said Lee, who came to Socialtext from Adobe Systems, where he led the software maker’s enterprise marketing and vertical market segments.
Socialtext, of Palo Alto, Calif., makes a wiki, or a secure collection of Web pages for groups to collaborate on projects together. Socialtext also offers an open-source version of its wiki software; WikiWidgets to allow non-technical business users to create rich wiki content, as well as mobile and offline wikis.
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Socialtext’s software is also an integral part of SpikeSource’s SuiteTwo, which includes Socialtext’s wiki, Six Apart’s blogging software and the RSS news reader from NewsGator, and is distributed by chipmaker Intel and its channel partners.
Neither Lee nor Mayfield would volunteer revenue numbers, though Lee said the company has seen significant, double digit quarter-over-quarter revenue growth. This growth has been secured by the patronage of Socialtext’s customers, which include Symantec, Nokia, IKEA and Conde Nast.
Perhaps a better measure of Socialtext’s value lies in a new Gartner magic quadrant on team collaboration and social software, which tracks leading Enterprise 2.0 tool providers such as IBM, BEA Systems and Socialtext rival Atlassian Software. Socialtext secured a visionary ranking in an emerging market where there are no clear leaders.
Google also has a plot in the wiki space, thanks to its purchase of JotSpot, but the search vendor has yet to release a Google-branded wiki for businesses.
Mayfield said Google will likely commoditize the low end of the hosted market that is ripe for small businesses and individuals, but not necessarily go after Socialtext’s medium and large business interests. Socialtext will serve SMBs, too, but look to differentiate with its open source, mobile wiki and offline offerings, Mayfield added.
Regardless of what Google might do in the wiki space, Lee’s appointment and Socialtext’s new $9.5 million in funding from existing investors Draper Fisher Jurveston (DFJ), Omidyar Network and SAP Ventures are designed to propel Socialtext to the leadership position.
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