Huddle: This 32-Year-Old Entrepreneur Is Bent On Beating One Of Microsoft's Largest BusinessesDecember 13, 2011
by Matthew Lynley
The term “Enterprise 2.0” is thrown around a lot these days. It refers to a class of companies that are taking ideas from companies like Twitter and Facebook and applying them to workplace software.
It’s led to the rise of a whole new batch of startups with red-hot valuations. Jive, an enterprise social network, filed to go public earlier this year and is valued at $573 million, while Box.net turned down a $500 million buyout offer earlier this year.
Among them is Huddle, a collaboration service led by 32-year-old Andy McLoughlin and Alastair Mitchell. Born in the UK, McLoughlin has since come stateside to build his company with U.S.-based clients.
We sat down with McLoughlin to find out what’s happening in this red-hot startup space. Here’s some of what we learned:
Enterprise software is a lot more exciting than me-too consumer apps. “I’d far prefer to make a tool that hundreds of thousands of business use everyday than some me-too photo app that gets good initial traction but people stop using after a week.”
He thinks Microsoft SharePoint is ripe for a takedown. “There’s a huge amount of room to improve upon SharePoint as a content collaboration tool the enterprise. It’s sold as free software, yet any CIO who has tried (and failed) to implement it knows that it’s far too easy to spend many months and hundreds of thousands of dollars getting it ready for deployment. Users generally hate it and most licenses will never be deployed.”
To sell to the enterprise nowadays, you have to build software that users love. “It isn’t enterprise software, it’s software I would like to use and software CIOs would like to buy. They’ve all been merciless as they look to replace software in the enterprise that isn’t working well. You can convince a CIO to buy software in year one, but if the users don’t like it, it’ll be tough to get them to upgrade in year two.”
He thinks competitor Box.net is confused. “Do they want to be an enterprise play or a consumer play like Dropbox? They are trying to do both, and it’s hard to acquire the right kind of customer. We’re not gonna have a moment where we are gonna say we aren’t an enterprise company any more, we have our sights firmly set on taking SharePoint down.”
Here’s a full transcript:
BUSINESS INSIDER: How did you guys get started?
Andy McLoughlin: I was working as a consultant. I was a web developer and I was working in-house for a big telco, and I worked with a document workflow management company. They wanted to be able to create a private workspace and invite people in.
That’s really where the idea for Huddle came from, to build a product that would do that but deliver it in the cloud. This was back in 2007, which was before cloud was really talked about. I wanted to build it in a way that a small company all the way to a 50,000 person company could buy and roll out. Build a great product that people love. We don’t really focus on the small business, mid-market up to enterprise.
BI: Why did you go with an enterprise company, instead of something easy to gain traction — like photo-sharing app number 47?
AM: My background is in business software and both Alastair (co-founder) and I are passionate about making software that people love serves a real business need. The day of stuffy, boring enterprise software has passed — these days business tools should be as intuitive, sexy and fun as the apps we use in our personal lives. I’d far prefer to make a tool that hundreds of thousands of business use everyday than some me-too photo app that gets good initial traction but people stop using after a week.
Read the rest of the interview here: