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

Citrix Says it Can Ride Out Economy

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 24, 2008

I have to admit to mixed feelings about going to Wednesday's Citrix Online Salon Dinner at the Carnelian Room on top of the Bank of America building in downtown San Francisco. It's the place where I proposed to my ex-wife. But I do love my kids and the views are spectacular so the awkward feelings were momentary.

Citrix Online is known for its large user base among small and medium businesses (SMBs) with its GoToMy/PC/Meeting/Webinar services. I'm always interested in software as a service companies (SAAS), especially these days where there appears to be a bit of a backlash against SAAS companies among larger companies, and also in these troubled economic times when it is easy to cut out monthly service expenses.

BrettCaine_215x143.jpgBrett Caine, GM of the Online Services Division says he hasn't seen any SAAS backlash or economic effects primarily because most of his clients are small businesses and the services save them money.

The salon was moderated by Gene Marks, introduced as an SMB expert. He did a fine job of engaging people especially key Citrix Online customers such as: Trust for Public Land; Cruise West; Western Independent Bankers; and MJC SF. Plus there was a bunch of media from BusinessWeek, Bloomberg, Harry McCracken and others.

Here are some notes from our dinner discussion:

- Few people like to use the video portion of GoToMyMeeting. Some people dress up before they take part in a video meeting. [Maybe there is an opportunity for a real-time avatar for those too shy or too vain?]

- I asked Mr Caine how does Citrix get its message to small business owners who are famously so busy running their companies that they don't have time to try out new services? "We try to get them outside of work, through TV spots, through radio when they are stuck in traffic and could do that meeting remotely."

- There is a history of "renegade products and services making their way into organizations such as the PC, handheld organizer," pointed out Harry McCracken. I asked "what is today's renegade product?" The iPhone was the consensus.

- One of the customers said Citrix helps in meetings across 16 different time zones. He said that in China his employees like to be social, they like to do things together, and eat together. I proposed a new product for Citrix: GoToMyDinnerParty.

- Citrix people underlined the carbon saving element of online meetings and there was some discussion about why more companies weren't adopting such an obvious green technology. My view is that businesses aren't in the business of saving carbon. They are in business to make business, they will be green if they can, but what they want more than anything is a more efficient way of doing business.

The moderated salon went on well into coffee and desert which was a shame because there was little opportunity to speak with my dining companions. But overall it was a pleasant event.

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