Palo Alto based Wiki startup SocialText, founded way back in 2002, is announcing version 3.0 of its software this morning. The upgrades are designed to put a little “social” into the enterprise (and to sidestep, as much as possible, the recently relaunched Google Sites, a direct competitor).
SocialText sells Wikis to companies, for the most part, although they also offer an open source version of their product. They offer customers a choice between a SaaS version and a higher end appliance, although the only real difference is where the server sits (your location or theirs). Founder Ross Mayfield says that of their 4,000 customers, 80% use the SaaS product, but 80% of their revenue come from the appliance.
The new products, Socialtext Dashboard and Socialtext People, are being demo’d now and will become available to all customers within 60 days, Mayfield says. The products are effectively extensions of their normal Wiki product.
SocialText Dashboard, pictured above, is a Netvibes-like customizable home page. Users can add SocialText widgets that show information from the company’s wiki – total edits, a list of workspaces, change summaries, etc. Other widgets are for productivity, like a calendar, or just for fun, like a YouTube widget.
All Dashboard widgets are Google Widget compatible, which means that, subject to security settings, they can also be added to sites like iGoogle. But more importantly, all iGoogle widgets can also be added to the Dashboard page. So you can, for example, pull Gmail directly into your SocialText Dashboard.
Users also create profiles (see below) and add “friends” within the organization. You can monitor the activity stream of mutual friends as well, which includes outside services such as Twitter.
For a lot of enterprise employees, having a single dashboard with secure company information alongside fun or useful outside services on a single dashboard is exactly what they need. It also makes SocialText the center of a worker’s day, which means they far less likely to ever lose the customer.
It’s clear that SocialText is forging ahead and trying to find a path that doesn’t make them sell against Google Sites, at least yet. Hopefully by the time those enterprise customers start to think about integrating some or all of Google’s productivity suite, SocialText will already be a daily part of employees’ lives. Then they can keep charging those attractive user fees.
SocialText has raised just under $12 million over three rounds of financing. Last November, Mayfield moved into the Chairman/President role to make room for a new CEO, Eugene Lee. The company has 50 employees.