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Startups jazz up business computing

Posted: 08 Nov 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:FasTech conference? business computing? startups?

Venture capitalists and corporate executives at the FasTech Conference 2010 pointed out the opportunities to apply innovations in social, mobile, cloud and open source technology to business computing.

"I think we're going to have a great couple years in the tech sector with plenty of opportunities for disruption," said Jim Goetz, partner at Sequoia Capital.

Goetz described the rise of smart phones as an industry watershed like the launch of the first commercial Web browser, Netscape Navigator. He also noted that today's browsers are getting a makeover. "The browser is going through major renovation from the Webkit team and HTML 5, creating a new class of browsers coming to mobile devices," he said. "The app tier may not exist in five to seven years as HTML 5 rivals what's going on in native Apple and Android stacks," he added.

On the other hand, Rich Wong, a partner at Accel Partners, noted that "The rise of the LAMP [Linux Apache MySQL and Python] open source stack means people don't need expensive Oracle or SAP licenses and lots of [computer] gear to stand up a company, and that's enabling a bigger pipeline of great ideas."

And entrepreneurs are aiming to upend the market for enterprise software using the new tools and platforms.

"We have a great experience in our personal life [with mobile platforms and social networking] and then we go to work and the environment sucks," said Tony Zingale, CEO, Jive Software. "The work environment where the global economy is driven is all about Outlook and Office, not Facebook and Twitterthat's where the massive opportunity exists," he said.

Zingale was quick to qualify the goal his company has been pursing with as much as $60 million in venture funding to date.

"It's not Facebook for the enterprise it's about getting work doneyou have to attach to existing business processes and add value, that's how you get paid for it," he said.

A host of companies are aiming at the same space as Jive, Zingale said. Indeed top drawer VC firm Kleiner Perkins, working with companies such as Facebook and Twitter, created a $250 million fund for companies trying to bring mobile and social technologies to businesses.

Businesses are just starting to open up to using new consumer technologies, said Phil McKinney, chief technology officer of Hewlett-Packard's personal systems group. "Enterprise CIOs are trying to shift from saying 'No' to 'How,'" said McKinney.

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