Come Together

This morning I wandered into a hotel ballroom set up like a theatre-in-the-round, with a raised 20'x20' platform in the middle and big video screens in each corner. Sonny & Cher were belting out "I Got You Babe" as I took my customary seat in the front row. Then Grace Slick and the Airplane did "I Need Somebody to Love." The came The Doors.


Screens reminiscent of sixties' light shows appeared on the screens.

WebEx's first User Group meeting was underway. I asked marketing director David Thompson if they were aware of the double-entendre of the name of the show:

He assured me WebEx understood. "WebEx advertising...," he began. I cut him off. Yeah, this was the outfit that blew their initial marketing budget on a Superbowl ad featuring transvestite RuPaul.

Inuendo? Sex? Drugs? Rock and roll? Us?

Co-founder and CEO Subrah Iyar took the stage, telling us how he and Min had shared a vision seven years ago. WebEx was born five years ago. Since then they've hosted millions of meetings. Last year they racked up in excess of 20 million person-meeting hours.

  • The director of collaborative services for Boeing was introduced. Boeing will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2016. Boeing Vision 2016 is a big deal with these guys. The theme is "People Working Together." WebEx holds Boeing's 450 locations around the globe together. Between customers, suppliers, and in-house coordination, Boeing racks up 9 million user-minutes/month.

  • StarCite is a 90-person business that coordinates corporate events. They've grown from $2 million to $17 million in revenues in three years. Most of their selling is online. Training and field audits are via WebEx. So are customer service, tech teams, design reviews with customers, marketing meetings, investor relations, and even board meetings.

  • Salesforce.com, currently prepping for its IPO, announced an alliance with WebEx which enables someone using the hosted CRM system to call up a WebEx meeting at the push of a button. Salesforce.com is delightfully feisty. They explain that the 70s were the age of the mainframe. The 90s were dominated by client/server and names like PeopleSoft, SAP, Oracle, and Siebel. This century is the era of On Demand and the prime players are Salesforce.com, Amazon, IBM, and WebEx.

  • Marketing director Thompson again took the stage, heralding the next generation at WebEx. We're giving the customer what they've asked for. The prototype, dubbed Picasso, provides "contextual communication" instantly, with set-up fully integrated into Outlook and documentation emailed immediately after the session.

continued in next blog entry


Posted by Jay Cross at March 1, 2004 06:41 PM | TrackBack
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