Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Genius launches at SF MOMA - local TV crews look for mania

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 4, 2006

I popped into the Museum of Modern Art Wednesday evening for the launch party for Genius, a startup that is grabbing buzz by the armful. So much buzz that a TV crew from one of the local stations was at the party, wondering if it was an example of dotcom mania making a come back.

No, it was not, but Genius has a savvy team, led by CEO and founder David Thompson, former chief marketing officer at WebEx. Mr Thompson knows his business very well, he's one of the most astute marketing executives (and I hate that term normally...) that I've met in a long long time.

The Genius product is also very clever, the way that it bypasses the the IT department and encourages users not to tell the geeks in the glass room about using the SalesGenius web service--the first in a planned suite of enterprise apps.

Smart use of proxy servers allows SalesGenius to monitor a company's best sales leads. They can view behavioral data on who visits their web sites, and help determine which sales prospects are hot. Hot leads get bumped up to the top of phone list.

I met with Mr Thompson and Heather Mosley from PerkettPR more than a week before the launch, and the more I think about the product and the business strategy I'm more impressed. It looks like a useful product and a very very smart business strategy.

And it was during a discussion with David Thompson that I had an interesting and blindingly obvious realization. I had asked why he had chosen to develop SalesGenius, as the first in a suite of enterprise apps?

He said the focus on sales is the most important part of any company and that's where the most benefit occurs from investment in the automation of the sales process.

A simple answer and it made me realise how often organisations forget this blindingly obvious fact. And I realized why CRM is probably the only enterprise software application that could ever justify its ROI and that's why CRM companies have been very successful.

But new web services threaten the old CRM stack because users can start using them instantly. And users can customize these apps without requiring IT departments and consultants.

Mr Thompson said that his experience at WebEx showed him how salespeople were using online meetings to sell products and services. Using the WebEx technology they could make 10 times as many pitches, and sell much more than before.

Since the interview, I've realized that the SalesGenius product is a crafty way to bring sophisticated web analytics into an organization, through grassroots users. And then once you get viral recognition within the company you get a shot at corporate license revenues, and sales of other online modules for other departments--all tied together for a one-view business console for the CEO.

Internet commerce is going to grow in importance, therefore strong web analytics is going to be the foundation of every company. Because web analytics determines how you sell your products, how you reach your best prospects, and the many other gazillion online interactions that future corporations will have to monitor. Web analytics is a way to get into the core of future businesses, that's the sweet spot because without strong web analytics you will not be able to run your business effectively. I have to hand it to the company, its name might turn out to be accurately descriptive rather than just hopeful ... :-)

I wouldn't be surprised if within a year WebEx or Salesforce acquires Genius. In fact, they should all join together, and they probably will at some point.


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