UPDATED: Under the Radar Relay Fri Mar 16, 2007

Many of you know that I was on the selection committee for “Why Office 2.0 Matters” – a one day conference being organized by the Dealmaker Media team in SF. The one day session will look at 32 of the most promising companies emerging in the Office-productivity-on-the-web category.

As part of the run-up to the conference, the team decided to hold a blog relay – “The Radar Relay” – where different writers would summarize the week’s Office 2.0 news at the end of the week. This is my week. But you might want to start here first if you haven’t been keeping up to date until now.

Also, if you haven’t registered for Under the Radar yet, the readers of this blog can take advantage of a special price at this link. I’ll be there, to see what the judging panel think of the selections that our committee made, and also to give a brief talk about Office 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0.

On with the Radar Relay. Tthis week has been ripe with office 2.0 news. There is so much that I’m going to do it in point-form:

  • A web application designed to help people through their bankruptcies was cited for “practicing the law without a license” and its creator was charged and found guilty. The case is currently under appeal. (thanks to Kurzweilai.net for the link).
  • The Office 2.0 Database tipped the scales at over 450 Office 2.0 startups. 95% of those will be gone in 36 months but who cares? As Paul Kedrosky says, “It takes a lot of dead bodies to fill a swamp” when you want to get to the other side.
  • Gianpaolo gave us an 8-floor, 3-bullet point “Why SaaS for the Enteprise” pitch. I would add to his points the ability for users to pilot-test without IT involvement (which really rolls up to shorter time to value though). I think his 3 bullets are absolutely awesome. Concise, and to the point.
  • The world continues to twitter about Twitter. Millions of people pinging each other with little tidbits of information on what they are doing at the moment. I know that many of the things that take off seem to confound people but you have to realize that deep down in biological and spiritual cores, we are social creatures. We are designed to be social from the ground up. But as people leave organized religion, and as fewer people get married, and as fewer people have kids, and as fewer people live in multi-family homes, there becomes a vast social vaccuum waiting to be filled – hence the explosion of blogs (find your community), photo-sharing (meet people with an appreciation for art), SMS’ing silly messages to each other, or signing up for Twitter – these are all manifestations of a desire to find and stay connected to a community in an ever more disconnected world.  I don’t doubt that we will develop a bunch of these tools along the way and will eventually be in partially aware, partially connected states to our communities at all time – but will be actually be social or have any friends? It reminds me of the quote I read the other day, “I unsubscribed from all of my social networks so that I would have time to invite friends over for dinners!” Also, here is a shortcut to using Twitter.
  • Google’s diabolical plan to plant people in Microsoft is paying off. Microsoft has managed to make Office 2007 and Outlook 2007 both slow and destructive to data at the same time as Google has launched their applications with a service level agreement (that they breached already.) Lots of notes here on Zoli’s blog.
  • Anne Zelenka posted “Ten Things I Hate About You, Web 2.0“. Funny list. Anne, how about Office 2.0? I’ll start with my top four most annoying things about Office 2.0:
  • NOT ONE COMPANY has managed to make a text editor that doesn’t completely suck.
  • Do we really need 50 spreadsheet apps? Are we really that lacking in creativity?
  • Web 2.0 was about wasting time. Office 2.0 is really about being productive with your time. We need more web 2.0 in office 2.0 or the conferences are going to be REALLY dull.
  • Just because you have an Office 2.0 company doesn’t mean you have to forget about: customers, pain points, revenues, or long-term viability.
  • Phil Wainewright has a good post on the Saugatuck report showing that SaaS has hit the knee of the curve or as he writes: “SaaS hits the hockey stick.” I’m sure he meant the curvy part near the bottom of the stick near the big flat part that hits the little round thing-a-ma-jig. Go, Beavers, Go. As you can see, I’m not a hockey fan so I prefer the knee of the curve story a bit more. He writes: “Most surprising of all was a huge jump from 18% last year to 49% this
    year of companies planning to use SaaS for mission-critical
    applications.” I think it’s instructive to look at internet banking. People didn’t want t o use it either because they were afraid of the web – until seemingly overnight when everybody’s Grandma joined web-banking.
  • Harry McCracken over at Slate wrote a decent review of the Zoho office tools suite. I agree with Harry that their suite seems pretty advanced. However, I have tried to use them for real work and have still found enough holes that I couldn’t use them. Particularly Zoho show which was nearly useless. The other apps seemed somewhat better. But they have achieved a heck of a lot and I wish Raju Vegesna and his team the best.
  • AvenueA-Razorfish’s new Digital Outlook Report 2007 was released (thanks Guy Kawasaki for the heads up). Some highlights:
    • “In retrospect, the massive digital disruption we’ve experienced over the last 12 months should have been anticipated. But it seems few were fully prepared for the speed and depth of the changes. Perhaps it’s because the changes weren’t just about what Web sites became popular or what new technologies were introduced. Rather, it was a broader cultural change. Consumers’ expectations of their media evolved. The places they trusted to provide information and entertainment changed. New outlets for consumers to express themselves emerged.”
    • ““Great service. Creativity. Flexibility. A passion for their product and for finding ways to push innovation within their organization. A desire to understand clients’ objectives and not to retrofit them into their own. The hallmarks of great Web publishers are obvious, yet subjective and elusive. Those who are focused on delivering real solutions are best positioned to become partners to agencies and advertisers.” – Sarah Baehr, VP Media, New York.
    • “Information seeking equals entertainment: Once upon a time, play was more deeply integrated into our daily lives, but that changed with the introduction of industrialism. Then came the Internet, and with it, a reemergence of play in new ways. Information as entertainment was a core concept we heard from our study participants, and one that we can see around us as well….Any way you look at it, play is back, and it’s here to stay.”
    • “Mobile phone use will grow—but not for talking, according to our participants. Phones calls are considered to be invasive in this hyper-culture, to be used only when necessary. For ordinary use, a quick text message will suffice, and many of our respondents didn’t see themselves reversing this trend in the future.”
    • Overall, this is a fantastic report. Get it. Read it. Take action on it.
  • Dick Costolo wrote a great post titled Too Many Companies? where he addresses an entrepeneur’s question about whetehr or not he/she should go out and try to capitalize on a maket opportunity. I agree with Dick. You can’t know anything really when you start. It’s all a best guess. Once you have done the basics of identifying whether you are entiering what could be a high-growth market, something that you are passionate about, and that you have (or can soon have) a great team to build something with, then get out there and do it and adjust on the fly. Not wait until you “have it figured out”.
  • Cisco bought Webex. For 64x earnings or  8.4x revenues. ($3.2B for 2006’s $50M earnings on $380M revenues). I agree with Michael Arrington who questions the value of such a deal when Webex is being disrupted SERIOUSLY by a lot of light, fast, cheap, and frankly much better competitors. Of course, Webex has real revenues that will accrue to Cisco’s bottom line and can actually “move the needle” on Cisco’s income statement. Hopefully they were buying the revenues and not the technology. I also agree with Paul Kedrosky who says “While this is not your father’s Cisco, it’s not clear just whose Cisco it is becoming either.” When they bought Five Across, it could have been an aberration. Adding Webex to the mix means it is definitely a trend. For it to make any sense, there would need to be some follow-on acquisitions that signal a clear shift in corporate strategy and a redefinition of what and who Cisco intends to become in the next few years.
  • Darren Barefoot did a nice little review of three new-to-him Web apps: Harvest for simple time tracking, Buxfer for moving money easily, and WhosOff for tracking holidays in the office. Very fitting for the Office 2.0 Relay!
  • That’s a heck of a week!! Lots of interesting things happening and I’m sure we’ll have another crazy week next week as we get close to the actual Dealmaker event.

    Have a great week ahead everybody!