Tibbr, the social networking service from enterprise software company Tibco, has over 1.5 million subscribers — all paid — and today it’s announcing two platform partners, Amazon Web Services and Dutch carrier KPN, as it embarks on a new drive to grow that user base as a cloud service. Putting tibbr on the AWS Marketplace and KPN’s GRIP platform will be the first time the social networking service will be sold, billed and provisioned via third-party platforms. And that is a sign of how app store-style enterprise marketplaces continue to evolve and become a go-to place for cloud software companies looking to connect with customers.
Tibbr has traditionally sourced many of its users from among the businesses that look to Tibco for other enterprise software solutions — with companies like Macy’s, KPMG, and Schneider Electric among those users across desktop and mobile devices (tibbr currently works on iOS, Android and BlackBerry platforms). But the bigger opportunity is in targeting enterprises that are not already owned by Tibco, competing for business users against other products like Microsoft’s Yammer and Chatter from Salesforce, which also offer closed social networking services for smaller workgroups and the very largest enterprises. Tibco has 4,000 enterprises on its books; of the 1.5 million users of tibbr, some 40% are existing Tibco customers, while 60% are not. “We are leveraging Tibco’s customer base, but we are also reaching out to a whole new set of customers,” Ram Menon, president of Tibco’s social computing unit, told TechCrunch in an interview.
And increasingly it seems that its growth is not premises-based but in the cloud. Right now, some 60% of tibbr users are already using the social networking software in the cloud, and that proportion is on the rise.
There are no signs that tibbr will launch a freemium version of its service — Menon likes to highlight that when Yammer sold to Microsoft for $1.2 billion it had only about 800,000 paid users on its books, compared to tibbr’s 1.5 million. But tibbr is starting to play around more with pricing.
At its most basic level, tibbr sold through Tibco costs $12 per user per month (that fee gets reduced as the number of users increase), but that pricing changes if purchased via AWS or KPN. For instance, on AWS, the service is sold in increments of 25, 50, 100 and 200 licenses, and pricing is in the typical AWS format, starting at $0.58 per hour for the smallest package. This includes charges not only for the software, but the RedHat Linux supporting software, as well as for use of Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure. Similarly, KPN bundles tibbr with other services and prices accordingly; it’s GRIP service already has 80,000 customers, the company says.
Part of the reason for the change is because this is what customers themselves are demanding these days. “We are seeing a fundamental change in how businesses are buying apps and services,” Sriram Chakravarthy, VP of social computing products and engineering at Tibco, said in an interview. “They are expecting to get everything in one place. Those who use platforms like KPN’s GRIP and AWS want everything in one place.”
This is also one more by-product of the ongoing consumerization of enterprise IT and the opportunity for developing dynamic services for business users, not just consumers (see also: “The enterprise cool kids.”).
“One thing that Facebook has taught us is the concept of the 21st century dashboard,” says Menon. “For the casual user, this is the best way of aggregating disparate streams of data. Tibbr shows how you can use that concept for work.” While Facebook (as one example) lets you follow friends, organizations, news sources, and so on, Menon describes the tibbr version as “following people, subjects, and machines.” The latter means you can track different tasks as they are working through the system, and share that information with others. “We’re bringing all this now on to your wall,” he says.
On the side of Tibco’s new partners, adding tibbr is akin to a mobile app storefront picking up an app that will hopefully get more users flocking to the platform overall.
“We were looking for an intuitive service that users love and adopt, satisfies IT with enterprise-grade security and control, and drives real ROI benefits for customers through contextual integration with current and next-generation applications. Only tibbr met all these criteria,” Gerard Schiebroek, VP of marketing and sales at KPN’s IT solutions division, noted in a statement.
And while tibbr has in the past been hosted on AWS infrastructure by some of its existing users, this will be the first time that AWS is adding it into its Marketplace, integrating it into its billing and provisioning infrastructure and giving Amazon one more name-brand to check off on its list of must-have enterprise software companies (this is the first time that a Tibco service will be sold on the the AWS Marketplace). “Working with TIBCO demonstrates how innovative and forward thinking software companies can leverage the power of AWS to provide greater value to their customers,” said Sajai Krishnan, General Manager, AWS Marketplace, in a statement.