One company you couldn’t keep out of the news in April was SugarCRM. Early in the month it announced it had raised $33 million in additional funding to support ‘its advancement into the enterprise market and to pursue strategic business opportunities’. This brings the total investment in the company to around $80 million to date.
The latest investment clearly reflects growing confidence the company can profitably establish itself as the number three in the SME space behind Microsoft and Salesforce.com. While there’s a lack of hard figures (given it’s a private company) SugarCRM announced a 67% year on year growth in income in 2011 and 118% year on year in the first quarter of 2012.
At its San Francisco SugarCon 2012 event the company debuted the release of SugarCRM 6.5 which included improvements to the user interface, full text search, enhanced performance and integrations into IBM’s social networking and e-commerce tools.
The company also announced a shake-up of its partner programme including a new distribution agreement with Ingram Micro, changes to partner certification, and the establishment of a partner advisory council.
Historically perhaps, the company has seemed a little too self-obsessed about its open source credentials, but there seems to have been a shift in recent years to competing on a much broader basis. With the increased investment and the global penetration of its free open source offering, it will be interesting to see how much ground it can make up on its larger competitors with its paid subscriptions.
Another company that featured heavily in the news in April was Yammer, a vendor of social collaboration tools. Perhaps stung into action by the emphasis that Salesforce.com is placing on Chatter, the company, established in 2008, claimed it had overtaken Chatter last year, and was now through the five million user mark.
Yammer, which closed a funding round of $85 million in February, also announced its first acquisition: oneDrum, a firm based in Scotland that provides file synchronisation and collaborative editing functionality for Microsoft Office documents.
The company also announced its Spring Release with a range of new features including Universal Search which allows users to search for both data held in Yammer as well as the systems integrated into Yammer. And in this respect Yammer also announced an integration into Microsoft Dynamics CRM as well as five other applications, which adds to existing integrations that include SAP, Netsuite, SharePoint, and Salesforce.com itself.
The battle for the enterprise collaboration space is likely to be an intriguing one to watch. Salesforce.com has a lot riding on it because it potentially allows it to spread its influence across the enterprise and will doubtless bring its considerable weight to bear to try and ensure Chatter is a success. Yammer, seemingly perhaps David to Salesforce’s Goliath, has two big things going for it which may allow it to prevail: firstly the consumerisation of IT which means technology is increasingly sold bottom up rather than top down, and which fits closely with Yammer’s sales model, and, secondly, its independence. As CEO David Sacks recently noted ‘Yammer is a social Switzerland. We will integrate with anyone’.
In terms of this month’s financial results, SAP seemed to disappoint the market with its first quarter results. Revenues were up 11% to 3.35 billion euros with the market apparently expecting 3.38. The company citing ‘sales execution issues in North America which impacted first quarter performance’ raised a few eyebrows, so it will be interesting to see how it bounces back in quarter two.
Microsoft announced quarterly revenues of $17.41 billion representing 6% year on year growth with the Microsoft Business Division up 9%. Interestingly the announcement revealed the inroads Dynamics CRM have been making following the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 last year, with sales showing 30% year on year growth.
On the acquisition front, the marketing automation market place continues to heat up with Marketo’s acquisition of Crowd Factory which seems to round out Marketo’s business to business capabilities, with Crowd Factory’s offering aimed at large-scale consumer marketing. This comes hot on the heels of last month’s announcement of Silverpop’s acquisition of CoreMotives.
Salesforce.com used its Washington DC Cloudforce event to announce a major new government cloud initiative. This will involve a separate dedicated multi-tenant instance of Salesforce.com to support state and federal government, projected to be available by the autumn. It will be supported by a separate AppExchange, and a major integrator training programme.
Finally, while we’re on the topic of vendor events, 1,500 small business owners and entrepreneurs attended Infusionsoft’s InfusionCon 2012, in Phoenix, Arizona. With speakers including Gary Vaynerchuk, Geoffrey Moore, and Chris Brogan, the event was refreshingly focused on helping organisations grow through technology, rather than the often arcane details of the technology itself. Perhaps an approach that other vendors could potentially learn from.
Anyway, that wraps it up for April, if I’ve misunderstood or missed anything notable, please don’t hesitate to comment.