Aleksey Vayner vs. Murry Gunty

All it take is one week to ruin someone’s reputation on the web. Just another example of the divide between the technology blogosphere and the rest of the web (ala rocketboom vs. lonelygirl15 or digg vs. collegehumor) ... Murry Gunty was a big deal for the technorati but rest of the web could care less ... in this case, Aleksey Vayner has been THE news for the last week but I barely read a peep about him in my usual feeds by the pundits (you know who) of the valley ...

Anyways, I wont delve into it too much but this Aleksey guys is a prototypical jackass found in 10% of the MBA population ... even worse he *allegedly* :) falsified his resume to include founding an investment company, a charity, and even a book on the holocaust (how low can you get?)

IvyGate is widely credited as the lead blogger on the story

DealBreak has some juicy stuff as well.

Gawker really broke the story open.

And I think I just saw it on the yahoo homepage !!!!!

Lessons on Enterprise 2.0 From 1999

Thought provoking conversation on Enterprise 2.0 by Jeff and his buddies (Sadagopan, Barry) + a retort by a VC at polaris. Surpisingly, the conversation helped me reconcile a part of my past with my current path. (original post )

First caveat is that I’m completely out of my depth when it comes to discussing SOA, master data management, customer data integration, and product information management (eh?). But I did dabbled my feet in the dot-com days in selling to enterprises (notice I didnt say enterprise software, small businesses is probably a better word) so perhaps I can share in literal terms about my experiences. In fact, Jeff was one of my board members, (I’m sure Jeff have already completely erased his association with our venture from memory.

We were a “B2B Marketplace” that allowed general contractors to find and manage subcontractors. Even in the beginning, we recognized that we were really a provider of web based application software to the industry, and that the “discovery/search” value proposition of the marketplace was minimal. In fact, at the time, there were so few “SaaS” (a term that appeared much later) examples, that hotmail was my main source of inspiration. We were blazing a trail but haphazardly, inconsistently, and perhaps even without a hint of self-awareness (for better and mostly for worse). We had some of the characteristics of so called “enterprise 2.0″ but because we lacked the self-awareness to created a coherent strategy & execution plan that would have become the ethos of enterprise 2.0/web 2.0. My failure was driven by naivite, inexperience, and in small part, the lack of precedence... . and that is the hardest part of enterprise 2.0 ... having all the pieces wasnt enough, everything has to fit just right because there is no playbook ... yet.

1) Direct enterprise selling sucks, is highly inefficient, and makes you do unnatural things in your product strategy in order to drive higher deal sizes. We vacilated between thinking that we were an enterprise productivity tool vs. enterprise software. Enterprise productivity tool should have been the right answer especially after spending time at eBay (its sellers are the SME sweet spot) . . that recognition changes everything you do from marketing to design ... on one hand, we had a hotmail like viral acquisition strategy (self service, self signup, referals as expected functionality, and bottoms up adoption/sales cycle starting with the end user rather than the CFO) on the other hand, we also had a sales force focused on the enterprise RFP process. We couldnt reconcile freemium vs. value pricing ... and we should have, by coming up with a revenue model focused either on services or scale rather than seats. This is how open source has thrived, and how salesforce.com scaled.

2) Large enterprise software vendors are not the future. There just has to be a way to grow our collective markets by appealing to millions of small business users and this isn’t going to come from SAP, Oracle, or IBM.

The million niches like construction are the future... its the gap between Intuit and SAP; the gap between accounting and ERP application that is the future. (both is usage & in segments)

3) In a somewhat bizarre turn of events, the historical strength of market leading business applications, the integrated suite approach, is being turned from an advantage into a liability.

Taking a productivity view of the product rather than an ROI, creates a whole different approach to development & design. Instead of focusing on ROI, inefficiencies, and risk managment of the enterprise, we could have focused on ease of use, adaptability, and integration at the end user interface level (rather than at the data level). Furthermore, click stream usage data becomes the overwhelming driver of development plan rather than feature/check box focused. It also focuses the company on serving its current customers rather than using product development to chase after deals which might not be in its sweetspot.. . .. . .

5) New big killer apps that are not going to be built for today’s enterprise. Most of the enterprise software market today is about finding gaps and filling them, linking products in new ways, and leveraging more value out of IT investments that have already been made. The consumer side of business may offer better opportunities.. . .

Adobe calls a similar segment, “prosumers” ... having all the characteristic of a consumer (usage & decision making) but with a profit motive as well. Small business owners evaluate sofware (webapps) like consumers and even pays like consumers, thus scaling sales is more important than chasing elephants. (eBay retrenched from its elephant strategy in 2003 if you read the press release carefully enough). . .

Lastly, I believe AJAX will have a much larger impact in the enterprise than in the consumer market. Consumers were anchored to the experiences of web 1.0 which made web 2.0 dynamism a refreshing improvement. On the enterprise side, end users are used to the interactivity and responsiveness of desktop applications already. As a result, some of the lack of adotion for webapps in the 1.0 (or dot com) days could be attributed to usability concerns. Ajax finally allows SaaS to compete on the same interactivity level as client/server applications. Web 1.0 simply did not have the RELATIVE impact on the enterprise world as it did for the consumer. I think Enterprise 2.0 could potentially be the step wise improvement of consumer web 1.0 and 2.0 combined for the enterprise world.