I started blogging for several reasons:
1) To participate in the conversation
2) To interact with and learn from people I otherwise wouldn't have cause to meet
3) To meet new and interesting people, fostering long-term professional and personal relationships
4) To understand perspectives outside of the traditional lens of a public equity investor
5) To have fun
Today has been an affirmation of those things, and it came in an unlikely way. Josh Greenbaum, a well-respected enterprise software critic, penned a piece calling for the eventual demise of Salesforce.com in the same way Siebel, its client/server proxy was torn asunder about five years ago.
Josh, a fellow Enterprise Irregular, graciously alerted us all via our Google Group of his post and invited reaction. I quickly emailed him (and the group) saying that I applauded his contrarian stance but vehemently disagreed with his analysis. He invited and awaited my retort.
This afternoon, I posted a rather lengthy rebuttal. What happened next was exactly what I hoped for, and so much more.
- Other EIs began weighing in via our Group chat on where they stood
- Josh posts a well-thought out retort on his blog, addressing my concerns and offering some further thoughts as to where we disagree
- Other EIs begin reacting to our conversation on their own blogs
- Techmeme picks up the story and the conversation is broadened even further
- [Update] SfDC's own John Taschek, an Irregular, has offered to host a webcast session of EIs to address any questions we may have about Apex, integration and their product strategy
This is what blogging and, more specifically, being an Enterprise Irregular is all about. Challenging one's assertions in a forceful but intelligent manner. Not backing down but also acknowledging the other viewpoint. Letting the conversation evolve into something bigger that, hopefully, offers analysis and insight to a much broader audience.
Jeff has an interesting take on why today's conversation is a window into why so many of us believe there's massive value to be created by further leveraging our Irregulars Group:
The debate also serves as evidence of a vibrant and passionate debate that is happening on a day-to-day basis in this group, often out of view and with a lot of "not bloggable" commentary by participants but commentary nonetheless that makes the group richer as a result.
The fact that there is "not bloggable" comments is a good thing because it delivers on one of the original motivations for continuing this social experiment, that in a confined group with members who respect each other’s intellect and integrity that you could drop the company name from your title and talk about things without regard for competitive dynamics or fear for sensitive comments being made public. Quite frankly there are few places on the Internet where this open and honest debate occurs among competitors.
Lastly, it’s worth pointing out that what started as a group with a lot of SAP people has evolved into broader industry participation, including Salesforce.com and Oracle members.
Rather than respond to Josh's retort with another one, I'd just like to thank him for the intellectually stimulating conversation and take him up on his gentleman's bet.
So bear in mind I didn’t say SFDC’s business looked bad today – I may be a curmudgeon but I’m not delusional – but I still maintain that all the measures with which Jason concludes his blog will start to turn around soon. When? I’m not a short-seller, but I would say that 12 months from now would be a good time to revisit this exchange and see who was right. And bear in mind that I think there’s still plenty of time to turn this ship around – way before SFDC does go the way of Siebel.
12 months from now, we'll take a gander at whether salesforce.com has gone the way of Siebel or, as I suspect, has continued to extend its dominance as one of the leaders of the SaaS paradigm shift.
Note: This is not a
recommendation to buy or sell CRM, ORCL, SAP
or any other security, but is merely a personal analysis to foster
discussion for informational purposes only. At the time of this
writing, I and/or funds I maintain discretionary control over
maintained long equity position in CRM but did not
maintain a position (long or short) in ORCL or SAP . We
also may, at times, carry derivative options on underlying positions as
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