Is Enterprise RSS Dead? Newsgator CEO: "Who cares?"

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Enterprise RSS promised to be far more than just Google Reader on steroids.

It allows groups to keep abreast of private updates using push technology without cluttering up e-mail. Similarly, I use SM2 everyday to monitor news about CrunchBase. Currently I get a daily e-mail, but it’d be nice if I could subscribe to a password-protected RSS feed.

On Monday, Marshall Kirkpatrick claimed enterprise RSS is dead–citing Newsgator’s continued infusion of cash as evidence the market is dead. Brad Feld responded with his thoughts on why enterprise RSS is alive.

Yesterday, I spoke with JB Holston, Newsgator’s CEO, and asked him for his thoughts:

You’re known for RSS readers–what problem do you want to be known for solving?

First, though our brand is associated with consumer RSS readers–FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, iPhone RSS reader–we never intended to build a consumer-focused product and flip it to Google. From the beginning, we were targeting the enterprise.

We want to be known for solving collaboration problems. We have social widgets, for example Reuters widgets use our technology. We also have a Social Sites application that basically turns Microsoft SharePoint into Facebook for the enterprise. [Screenshot below.]

Our enterprise RSS service has two sides: a Saas deployment used by approximately 150 vendors, and an on-premis server that sits behind the firewall–currently about 125 clients.

Why do you keep raising cash?

Newsgator was first funded four and half years ago–really, we’ve had three rounds of funding from separate groups. Technically it’s been six rounds, but only three events with different lead investors. So far we’ve raised $39 million.

This seems like a lot if we were just an iPhone developer (our iPhone application made TIME magazine’s top 10 list), but as I said before, we’re very focused on the enterprise. Raising $39 million is common in this space.

What’s your response on the death of enterprise RSS?

Who cares? It doesn’t have to be called enterprise RSS because that’s just the backend protocol. From our perspective, enterprise RSS–whether deployed for CMS, or portal enhancement, or social computing, or replaicing external information sources–is just the enabling technology.

Our customer’s don’t come to us and say “we want enterprise RSS”. They come with specific problems like “fix our portal”, “help us drive collaboration”, etc, and then we go use RSS. They don’t care how it happens.

From our point of view, the conversation has moved beyond RSS in the blogosphere. It’s a little startling to see people saying “because enterprise startups require cash, the enterprise RSS market is dead.”

RSS is fabulous technology, and if no one is talking about it, that’s just because the market matured to emphasizing solutions, not technologies.

It’s certainly an interesting argument, but I don’t think the market’s moved into understanding the power of enterprise RSS.

Maybe we’re just too stuck with bad inbox habits to worry about disentangling news from our inboxes. Certainly we’re just beginning to use online collaboration without having to think about it. Only time will tell how deeply RSS penetrates the enterprise.

  • King

    Number one :) http://kisalt.net/d2

  • King

    Number one :) http://kisalt.net/d2

  • http://www.itdatabase.com TravisV

    I get 100+ emails per day from the various publications and blogs to which I’ve subscribed for “updates.” I find myself continuously (at the beginning of each worday) “sorting by from” in my email box and basically deleting all of these emails.

    When I signed up for NewsGator, I initially found it incredibly useful to be able to sign up for all of the hundreds of IT news feeds that I care about. But as time went on and I had more and more feeds, I found it increasingly impossible to keep up with all of those feeds and actually pay attention to them. Gradually I stopped going to NewsGator to check my feeds.

    I’m not NewsGator’s “enterprise” consumer. I have a start-up and we have fewer than 20 employees. So not trying to dismiss the value of their services to their customers (or even claim I understand what it does for existing CMS or portals).

    But I do see this general problem of “too much news and not enough time to read it all” being independent from the tasks of (1) collecting the news and (2) pulling it into whatever content framework the user might have in mind. The problem is an overwhelming amount of relevant news data … and even greater amount of irrelevant news data … and organizations not having nearly enough time to keep a pulse on all of it.

    As Holston intimates – RSS is just one way to get hooks into that data, and itself is not the end-all to this discussion / challenge. But IMO, the portability of news and ability to get it into x- content or y- collaboration suite an enterprise might be running is only PART of the problem. The greater opportunity – IMO – is in providing better analytics and metadata on top of news that makes exploring aggregates of news trends more efficient.

  • http://www.itdatabase.com TravisV

    I get 100+ emails per day from the various publications and blogs to which I’ve subscribed for “updates.” I find myself continuously (at the beginning of each worday) “sorting by from” in my email box and basically deleting all of these emails.

    When I signed up for NewsGator, I initially found it incredibly useful to be able to sign up for all of the hundreds of IT news feeds that I care about. But as time went on and I had more and more feeds, I found it increasingly impossible to keep up with all of those feeds and actually pay attention to them. Gradually I stopped going to NewsGator to check my feeds.

    I’m not NewsGator’s “enterprise” consumer. I have a start-up and we have fewer than 20 employees. So not trying to dismiss the value of their services to their customers (or even claim I understand what it does for existing CMS or portals).

    But I do see this general problem of “too much news and not enough time to read it all” being independent from the tasks of (1) collecting the news and (2) pulling it into whatever content framework the user might have in mind. The problem is an overwhelming amount of relevant news data … and even greater amount of irrelevant news data … and organizations not having nearly enough time to keep a pulse on all of it.

    As Holston intimates – RSS is just one way to get hooks into that data, and itself is not the end-all to this discussion / challenge. But IMO, the portability of news and ability to get it into x- content or y- collaboration suite an enterprise might be running is only PART of the problem. The greater opportunity – IMO – is in providing better analytics and metadata on top of news that makes exploring aggregates of news trends more efficient.

  • http://walkerhamilton.com Walker Hamilton

    RSS is plumbing. I completely agree with J.B. Holston. If it mattered that people using RSS as end-users knew what it was (or were required to know that), then we’d be in trouble. No, RSS is merely the pipes for making sure other goals are met.

  • http://walkerhamilton.com Walker Hamilton

    RSS is plumbing. I completely agree with J.B. Holston. If it mattered that people using RSS as end-users knew what it was (or were required to know that), then we’d be in trouble. No, RSS is merely the pipes for making sure other goals are met.

  • geewhiz

    They keep raising money because things aren’t going well and they need more money to keep going.

  • geewhiz

    They keep raising money because things aren’t going well and they need more money to keep going.

  • chris

    I agree with Holston as well. Ask Twitter, or FriendFeed, or Digg, or Facebook, or Google if enterprise RSS is dead. They all use it to enhance their services, and countless other developers use it to create interesting products. Just because the average joe isn’t aware of it doesn’t mean it’s dead. That argument is ridiculous.

  • chris

    I agree with Holston as well. Ask Twitter, or FriendFeed, or Digg, or Facebook, or Google if enterprise RSS is dead. They all use it to enhance their services, and countless other developers use it to create interesting products. Just because the average joe isn’t aware of it doesn’t mean it’s dead. That argument is ridiculous.

  • http://sm2.techrigy.com Martin Edic (Techrigy)

    I don’t believe that in this environment ‘people raise money because things aren’t going well’ to paraphrase. No one is throwing money at losing propositions, not that kind of money.
    Two things stand out to me: neither ReadWriteWeb or Techcrunch deal much with enterprise stories and Walker is right: RSS is plumbing. Only the plumbers care how it works, the rest of us just want to flush the toilet day in and day out.
    We make extensive use of RSS in some of our collection engines. As a marketing guy I’m glad it’s there to facilitate that capability but none of our customers care a bit about it. They just want to see the results in our application.

  • http://sm2.techrigy.com Martin Edic (Techrigy)

    I don’t believe that in this environment ‘people raise money because things aren’t going well’ to paraphrase. No one is throwing money at losing propositions, not that kind of money.
    Two things stand out to me: neither ReadWriteWeb or Techcrunch deal much with enterprise stories and Walker is right: RSS is plumbing. Only the plumbers care how it works, the rest of us just want to flush the toilet day in and day out.
    We make extensive use of RSS in some of our collection engines. As a marketing guy I’m glad it’s there to facilitate that capability but none of our customers care a bit about it. They just want to see the results in our application.

  • http://www.techticles.com Milo

    Get real. Enterprise companies don’t want their employees spending time reading whatever on their computers.

    RSS while good is not productive and all companies want is for their employees to produce every single minute of the day. Produce something that results in the bottomline of the company.

    Especially now that there is an economic crisis, the more are companies tighthening the belts of employees.

  • http://www.techticles.com Milo

    Get real. Enterprise companies don’t want their employees spending time reading whatever on their computers.

    RSS while good is not productive and all companies want is for their employees to produce every single minute of the day. Produce something that results in the bottomline of the company.

    Especially now that there is an economic crisis, the more are companies tighthening the belts of employees.

  • http://wir-sprechen-online.com/2009/01/16/enterprise-rss/ Enterprise RSS « Wir sprechen Online.

    […] Widman: “Enterprise RSS promised to be far more than just Google Reader on steroids”; http://cli.gs/J2B9hP   […]

  • http://wir-sprechen-online.com/2009/01/16/enterprise-rss/ Enterprise RSS « Wir sprechen Online.

    […] Widman: “Enterprise RSS promised to be far more than just Google Reader on steroids”; http://cli.gs/J2B9hP   […]

  • Soum

    Does anyone know of any good free or open source solutions to turn a MS SharePoint site into a Facebook like portal with a walled garden?

  • Soum

    Does anyone know of any good free or open source solutions to turn a MS SharePoint site into a Facebook like portal with a walled garden?

  • http://www.rivalmap.com Andrew Holt

    RSS is a technology, not a solution in and of itself. I completely agree with JB, though I think they could improve their marketing to reflect the value of using RSS without pushing RSS itself as their core competency.

    We partnered with NewsGator to deliver news in our application. When I’m selling it, I don’t say “You can use RSS with the application,” I outline the value of integrating various syndicated news feeds into a single location. The word ‘RSS’ is only used if I’m talking to someone at a technology startup.

    I don’t know NewsGator’s sales model, but I know our company could benefit from more professional services to train and drive companies to adopt solutions, making the technology totally transparent.

  • http://www.rivalmap.com Andrew Holt

    RSS is a technology, not a solution in and of itself. I completely agree with JB, though I think they could improve their marketing to reflect the value of using RSS without pushing RSS itself as their core competency.

    We partnered with NewsGator to deliver news in our application. When I’m selling it, I don’t say “You can use RSS with the application,” I outline the value of integrating various syndicated news feeds into a single location. The word ‘RSS’ is only used if I’m talking to someone at a technology startup.

    I don’t know NewsGator’s sales model, but I know our company could benefit from more professional services to train and drive companies to adopt solutions, making the technology totally transparent.

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  • http://blog.ensembli.com/?p=39 The great RSS debate

    […] more at Is Enterprise RSS Dead? Newsgator CEO: “Who cares?” and The enterprise RSS […]

  • http://blog.ensembli.com/?p=39 The great RSS debate

    […] more at Is Enterprise RSS Dead? Newsgator CEO: “Who cares?” and The enterprise RSS […]

  • http://fredzimny.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/going-with-the-flow-whither-enterprise-rss-blog-headshift/ Going with the flow: whither enterprise RSS? « Fredzimny’s CCCCC Blog

    […] (he claimed) struggling. Newsgator’s CEO, JB Holston, came back with a strong retort in an interview with TechCrunch IT: Who cares? It doesn’t have to be called enterprise RSS because that’s just the backend […]

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