Web-based productivity apps may be where software is going, but the budding market will also see its share of casualties. One early casualty could be ThinkFree, which looks to be in turmoil.
The company’s Web-based versions of Office never really gained much traction—they trail well behind Google Docs, Zoho, and others. Founder and CEO TJ Kang is on the outs with Haansoft, the Korean software company he sold a majority stake to in 2003. ThinkFree’s chief marketer Jonathan Crow just left (Update: the company took this down, see cached version), explaining that ThinkFree and collaborative online tools are “evolving to the next stage” and that Korean parent company Haansoft:
. . . is now taking a more active role in the strategic and tactical activities of ThinkFree. They are now deep into what this shift means for our development roadmap as we head into 2008.
Is that marketing speak for, “There is no money in online productivity apps and Haansoft is pulling the plug”? Not necessarily. The Website is still up and running, and all subscribers were upgraded to premier accounts about a week ago.
It sounds more like the company’s Korean masters have put ThinkFree in a holding pattern until they figure things out. One tipster tells us that ThinkFree has shut down its San Jose, California headquarters. Calls to that office just keep going to voicemail. But a spokeperson assures us that there are still people there.
We won’t put ThinkFree in the deadpool quite yet, but it is on death watch.