Firefly: Screen Sharing For Customer Service And Competition To Salesforce.com’s GoInstant

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Firefly is a new browser-sharing service that has striking similarities to GoInstant, the company that Salesforce.com acquired earlier this year for $70 million. Like GoInstant,  Firefly has found a way to break through the complications of software-based web conferencing with a service that allows the sharing of web pages without any plug-in needed.

I was impressed with the GoInstant sale, as it represented the start of a sea change coming to the customer service market. Companies increasingly need ways to quickly share web pages between customer service agents and customers.

Firefly looks like it has the potential to be disruptive, too. Founded by three students at the University of Pennsylvania and the school’s Wharton School of Management, Firefly sees its opportunity in being singularly focused on the customer service market as opposed to GoInstant, which is going after the the larger enterprise market with a full set of features, such as embedded chat, mobile, and analytics. Instead, Firefly is focusing on the lower end of the enterprise market with its screen-sharing only service.

“It is similar to GoInstant,” said Co-Founder Dan Shipper. “If a customer is having a problem with the web site — the customer service agent can connect to the person’s screen all without installation, no Java, no download — just JavaScript.”

The focus helps Firefly fit into the customer service tool chain, allowing agents to use it without any need for other features. The service integrates with customer service environments, such as Olark and SnapEngage. Firefly also offers an API, which it charges for in a similar fashion to Twilio.

“For us it means we can tailor to one use case; we can serve customer service better than a general solution,” Shipper said.

Firefly is not pursuing a freemium strategy as we see a lot of companies do these days that are trying to gain a foothold in the market. Instead, the company is doing direct sales. It sells on a subscription basis or by the bundle. For example, you can pay $10 for 10 screenshares. They call it a “bulk pack.”

The company has not taken any funding. Shipper says they want to learn how to manage their own money first.

Firefly’s singular approach is evident of a trend to provide a core point technology that connects with apps through APIs. That approach frees Firefly from developing new features and helps it compete with companies like GoInstant and the Salesforce.coms of the world.