One is a huge company that’s well known inside huge enterprises. The other is a startup with five employees that hardly anyone knows.
But they both shifted the world last week in big ways. Note I didn’t put Google’s Chrome OS on this list. Why not? Because that’s largely vaporware at this moment. Next year when they show us the hardware they are planning to run it on will be when we judge whether that’s really a big thing or not. Last week, though, the big world-changers were done by Salesforce and Foursquare.
First, lots of people, including most of the Enterprise Irregulars who usually do a bang-up seemed to have missed the real news that Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, announced this week at the TechCrunch Real-Time Crunchup: that Salesforce is going after the whole company, not just the sales people. (The picture above is of Benioff announcing its Chatter service in front of 19,000 attendees at Salesforce’s Dreamforce event last week by talking about how much Twitter and Facebook have changed his life). First, you should read the other reviews of Salesforce’s announcement of its Chatter functionality. Here’s some of the best:
1. Esteban Kolsky writes “Why Chatter Matters.”
2. ZDNet’s Dion Hinchcliffe: Salesforce Chatter: Social Operating Systems emerge on the IT stage.
3. Sameer Patel: Chitter Chatter: Salesforce ups the Enterprise 2.0 ante. (Good selection of other blog posts and videos, too).
4. Michael Krigsman: Salesforce Chatter: Something to talk about.
How are is Salesforce going to do that? By giving a version of its new Chatter product away free to other employees. Salesforce’s CEO, Marc Benioff, announced that on Friday, TechCrunch has the quote and the video.
Here’s the quote, I asked him: “Salesforce is only used by a small # of people inside corporations. Why aren’t you ripping [Salesforce's new Chatter functionality] out and make this more low cost?” Benioff answered: “We are. All Salesforce users can use this for free. We also have a low cost separate product. And we will be rolling out a free version. We are working on figuring out what that is.”
Now what is Salesforce Chatter? Simply it’s a copy of the streams we’ve gotten used to in Facebook and Twitter. But, these feeds reveal data deep from inside Salesforce.
This will be crack for employees. As Benioff said last week, why does he know more about his friends on Twitter than he does about what his VPs are working on? Chatter will answer that, but the reason why this was one of the two biggest moves of the week was because of Salesforce’s ability to change the market through aggressive pricing and because of its, um, salesforce that already is very successful in getting its service inside Enterprises. Most of the 19,000 attendees at its Dreamforce event last week came from companies with more than 1,000 employees (based on a raising of hands after Benioff asked).
Microsoft’s Sharepoint now has real competition. By the way, this move has already helped other players like Yammer, Jive, by stamping Enterprise 2.0 services with a stamp of approval (plus, those lesser-known players have their products on the market now while Salesforce won’t ship until well into next year, so they have a good window to get acquired and figure out how they will sell against Salesforce (and Sharepoint). I talked with Jive’s CEO, Dave Hersch, on Thursday and he’s excited by the new attention his firm is getting because of Benioff’s moves. That’s how you know Salesforce made a big move last week.
That brings me to Foursquare (and its VP of business development, Tristan Walker, pictured here). I predict that Benioff will copy Foursquare’s features in 2011. Why? Because now that he knows what his Vice Presidents’ are doing, he’ll want to know where they are. Foursquare has been on fire lately and was the one company everyone was listening to during the panel on geolocation.
Most people don’t know what Foursquare is yet, so let’s recap. It is four things (so far):
1. It’s a geolocation service that you use on your Smart Phone (I use it on my iPhone and on my Droid). It competes with a raft of services like Britekite, Google Latitude, Gowalla, and others.
2. It’s a game. You check in where you are and it gives you points and prizes.
3. It enhances your experience in each location. Check in at the Half Moon Bay Ritz and you’ll see tons of “tips” that people have left for you. Francine Hardaway, for instance, tells you where the best dog beach is. I tell you how to save $40 on smores. Other people tell you that Tres Amigos is the best Mexican place nearby, etc.
4. It’s an advertising platform that enables local businesses to give you offers based on where you check in. Check in at the San Francisco Apple Store, for instance, and the Marriott across the street could offer you $5 off of a cocktail to get you to cross the street and come over.
But what was their big move last week? They released an API (Google Group for discussing that API here). Today I met Tristan Walker, Foursquare’s VP of Business Development, to find out how people are already using that API.
Already companies like Layar are using the API to overlay the tips that people leave onto their augmented reality system. So, if you were at the San Francisco Apple Store and you pointed your iPhone around you’d see tips of things you should do nearby.
This might not seem like a big deal, but it is. It will be an important part of my SuperTweet idea, which will hook Tweets into interesting new experiences that will come to you.
When we checked in for lunch at It’s Italia we both saw who else was in the restaurant, and we saw tons of tips that people had left for us to do nearby. For instance, imagine we hadn’t been able to get into the restaurant (that happens a lot in Half Moon Bay). Well, Andrew A told us that Tres Amigos has the best tacos on the coast. That’s .4 miles away from where we were. Or, maybe after our lunch we’d want to get some coffee or tea. Joseph S. said that Raman Chai has the best chai in the Bay Area. These are both things I might never find using other systems.
But even better, most of the people on Foursquare I actually know, or can look up on Twitter. So, when Francine Hardaway talks about local dog beaches inside Foursquare, now I have something new to talk to her about when I see her next.
How will the world use this system via an API? I can see a ton of ways. Apps like Yelp could build in links to other experiences left by your friends. Twitter could give you more information about the eating patterns of your friends. For instance, I already know that Shannon Clark is a foodie and if he checks in at a restaurant a lot I’ll want to eat there too (the places he’s already taken me in San Francisco are amazing). We could have new “foodie” alerts based on people who like the same restaurants we like. If Shannon goes into a new restaurant you can bet I’ll ask him on Twitter what he thought.
Or, imagine following Gary Vaynerchuk through Sonoma. Wouldn’t you follow his trail when you go to Sonoma? You bet you would! He already knows which wineries have the best wines. Why would he waste his time on a winery that makes crappy wine? (His family runs a wine store in New Jersey that sells $50 million in wine a year). Gary is working on an iPhone app. Imagine he uses Foursquare’s API to pull out tips that he, and his friends, leave in Sonoma and other wine regions.
Don’t think Foursquare has big impact? BART (the Bay Area Rapid Transit system already made a deal with Foursquare). How could BART use the API? Imagine an app that says “your train has been delayed for 15 minutes, why don’t you go around the corner to XXXXXXXx coffee shop and grab yourself some coffee?” All of that would be done via the API. How would the app know you like coffee? Well, dummy, you checked in at Starbucks 15 mornings in a row!
I’ve been using Foursquare and it has brought me a ton of goodness. Did you know that I was eating lunch with Dave Winer in Sausalito? Who walked up? Myles Weissleder who runs SF New Tech (that led to this video with him and Toobla’s CEO). He walked up because he was nearby walking home and he saw me check in at one of his favorite restaurants. I’ve had TONS of serendipitous meetings like that. But even if that doesn’t happen to you, the tips that you get about where you are and how to make your experience there better is what will keep you coming back.
Foursquare is onto something and if they continue down the path they are on this week will be one we look back on and say “that was huge.” The same way we now look back at Twitter’s API and say “that is huge.”
Anyway, do you agree? Or do you think that Google’s Chrome OS or Microsoft’s Silverlight 4.0/Azure announcements were the biggest thing last week?