Dreamforce '15 is upon us

Tom Paine

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Dreamforce '15 begins tomorrow and runs through Friday at the Moscone Center in San Franscso. The purported 100,000 plus will be there, I'm sure, though some may be diguised as depressed Giants fans.

But this year I'm closer to buying into the Salesforce vision, and I don't mean by that all the celebs who will gather there or Marc Benioff's vision for the world.

Rather, I mean the strength of the business logic surrounding Salesforce. I see no major player gaining ground on CRM in the cloud, except perhaps Amazon Web Services, which is a different type of fish. And the Cloud, most agree, is becoming the established standard in computing.

And I'm not just talking about Salesforce, but its partner companies, many of whom garnered huge investments this year, often led by Salesforce itself, a change in direction for them. And most of the partners that I'm aware of are generating real revenues selling to BtoB companies, and are less likely to suffer if the bubble bursts.

This year more of the talk will be about live non-CRM products.

And Salesforce has finally freed its Heroku platform to provide a true alternative for big data users who were cramped by the Force.com (read: Oracle DBMS) environment.

Bloomberg reported in July that Salesforce was specifically trying to attract M&A interest from Microsoft and SAP, though I don't know whether that was a rumor-spreading effort by Benioff to prime the pump. Then a month later Benioff pulled out his best Trumpism, declaring that Bill McDermott was "scared of Salesforce", a characterization that I doubt many who know McDermott would buy.

Of course, if Benioff is correct about Salesforce growing faster than SAP, he should just wait a while. Salesforce's current market cap is $47 billion versus $80 billion for SAP. If things keep going Benioff's way, soon he could negotiate a merger of equals.

I'll be covering it all with a special eye on the Philly-area companies that make news at Dreamforce as I did last year. I find that more companies in the area getting drawn into the Salesforce ecosystem, in some cases only because their customers are leading the way.

If you have any relevant content, please email me at phillytechnews@gmail.com.

WealthCloud to provide an integrated trust administration platform for Seward & Kissel LLP

WealthCloud, LLC Rebrands with New Name

Salesforce talks up sales intelligence, small business offensive (Fortune)

Rootstock aims to thrive in the manufacturing industry cloud (Diginomica)

Compass raises $50M in Series C; now valued at $800M (The Real Deal)
Looking to open Philly office, report says.

Phenom People Unveils Industry’s First Talent Relationship Marketing Platform (Business Wire)
Formerly iMomentous, relaunches on Salesforce platform.

PeopleLinx receives $3.5 million; does the town at Dreamforce

Microsoft isn’t being ‘overly cooperative’ with Salesforce despite their renewed friendship, analyst says
(Business Insider)

LiquidHub Refuels Global Brand

Horsham-based Proscape, with new mobile apps, seeks broader market

Comcast, Arris Open Up Gateway Deployment (Multichannel News)

Bentley Enlivens Reality Modeling through Acquisition of e-on Software (Business Wire)

Dreamforce powers Salesforce's market rise (USA Today)

Horsham-based Proscape, with new mobile apps, seeks broader market

Tom Paine

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Recently, a managing partner for Emergence Capital, a VC firm that has been wildly successful investing in the SaaS space (take Veeva as an example), indicated that it was shifting emphasis from SaaS startups to mobile enterprise applications. “We think this is a bigger trend than SaaS has been to date”, said Managing Partner Kevin Spain. He didn't recommend ignoring the web, but in most cases building mobile and web capabilities together.

Proscape, a Horsham-based company (as in Montgomergy County, not the UK, as I recently confused the two in one case) had already taken that message to heart. The old Proscape was a pioneering pharmaceutical CRM firm etablished in the late 1990s. It partnered with Microsoft's Dynamics CRM, and built "closed loop" systems for its clients, meaning they were designed to show the back-end results of sales or detailing efforts.

Proscape President Derek Pollock speaking at last week's
New York TechBreakfast/Proscape

Co-founder and President Derek Pollock said in an interview with Philly Tech News that the original Proscape was successful, and produced positive returns for its investors, but three years ago they decided to wrap up the old venture and start a new company from fresh under the same name. The new Proscape recapitalized, raising a round from a set of new and old investors. It would maintain its legacy pharma customer base, but it had a different vision for its new venture.

It would be built upon a simple set of mobile apps, generic in nature, that could be deployed across industries. The apps would provide for easy end-user markup requiring no tech skills, but at the same time would not be limited to restrictive templates.

Proscape would call it the "The Marketing App Cloud."

Processing and aggregating the information collected through the mobile apps would be handled through Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Customers would bring their own CRM. Proscape would exit the business of installing and helping to maintain CRM systems.

Proscape found the CRM of choice among a majority of customers (about 60%) was Salesforce. As a result, while not being dismissive of other CRMs, Proscape jumped on the Salesforce bandwagon, and will be presenting in three sessions at Dreamforce this week.

Proscape is targeting the new apps to marketing and ad agencies, who reach a broad audience, but often lack the time and expertise to design such solutions themselves.

                                                        Proscape Demo

Pollock, who grew up in Wayne (Conestoga High) and received a degree from Wharton before spending time with Big Blue (IBM, for you younger guys), joined Proscape during its startup days. Also joining Proscape early on was Tim Healy, Proscape's present Chief Executive Officer.

They recognized that the new Proscape would need different sets of skills than the old one. So a special development group was developed, mostly spread out between Colorado and Silicon Valley, under the guidance of Sanj Surati, Vice President Software Engineering. He previoulsly had worked as a lead for Microsoft on the Windows 2000 and XP platforms.

The company also added Bill Conn, a Penn grad and English & Biology major (yes, english majors can get tech jobs; I know one personally) with experience at PeopleLinx among other stops, as Director of Content. As chief story teller, Conn has overseen the creation of a wealth of video, animated, and graphic content that helps to explain Proscape's value proposition.

In looking back over past items contained within Google, I found a paucity of Proscape marketing materials online. In fact, you'd barely know that they existed. That may not have been as necessary when marketing to a narrow niche, but Proscape's new product requires brand awareness among a broader customer group.

Proscape has streamlined the way it markets the app since its original introduction. Its got everything in one package, the "App Player". Its available for iOS in the App Store, and Android in Google Play.

Proscape is scheduled to be part of three presentations at Dreamforce '15.

Proscape has received some good press lately. They are reaching out to the right places, such as the Philly TechBreakfast and the New York TechBreakfast. I like the content marketing pieces they've produced, and the way they're relying on inbound marketing. And being visible at Dreamforce, and any other associations they can build within the Salesforce ecosystem can only be pluses.

I don't know much about the numbers beyond what I've been told (revenue growing nicely; headcount around 55 and growing), but I've got to guess Proscape is managing the growth of the new business while trying to maintain cash flow from its older, probably shrinking legacy CRM business. Having been in that type of situation myself,  I can tell you its a struggle managing that transition.

But I like the fact that buying the apps is not a staggering decision that will get hung up in corporate purchasing for months. Proscape has three pricing options for its apps, ranging from $9.95 to $49.95, but the real bite can come from the per usage charges.

                                             Proscape employees at Horsham headquarters/