On Consolidation in the Cloud - An Interview with Joe Gustafson

On Consolidation in the Cloud - An Interview with Joe Gustafson
April 29, 2011

An interview with Joe Gustafson, CEO of Brainshark, on some recent acquisitions in the cloud-computing space. What does SlideRocket and Plateau getting picked up really mean?

Q: Are you surprised that SlideRocket was acquired by VMware?

A: Not at all, because looking at it from VMware’s perspective, it was a really smart move. Lots of companies are now betting big on moving into the cloud, which is really becoming the future. Acquiring SlideRocket makes a lot of sense because as you move into this space, it becomes necessary to augment your software stack. I think many people would be surprised to know that presentation software is the most widely used software behind e-mail. I’m very excited about this acquisition because it validates and brings more attention to our growing and incredibly important space.


Q: So, you see this positively affecting the on-demand presentation space as well?

A: Absolutely. Web-conferencing went from a non-existent market about 12 years ago to a 3 billion dollar market today. Now, it’s really the time for on-demand video to step out in the forefront. The bustling that we’re seeing here is a testament to the fact that companies are understanding the value of on-demand video communications, especially in the cloud. I think Brian Byun, VP and GM at VMware said it best in their press release when he said, “The modern end-user environment is mobile, social, collaborative and delivered via the cloud—characteristics that legacy PC-era technologies could have never anticipated.” I’m only encouraged by the fact that our platform has long been providing content anywhere and anytime.


Q: What about the LMS space? How is SuccessFactors’s acquisition of Plateau a factor for the future, or is it?

A: Learning management is a very different market. Talent management is heavily linked with the Cloud and now buyers want a full suite from their vendors. The learning piece is very important to this desired package and historically, companies haven’t been as strong with it. Learning is a very important component of what we do, and I think this acquisition is also a good indicator of a bright future. Not long ago, Cornerstone went public with an incredibly successful IPO after growing significantly every year. Plateau’s acquisition, along with the high valuations of other players, demonstrates just how important this space is and brings it well-deserved exposure.


Q: Would you say more acquisitions are on the way in both spaces?

A: In LMS, consolidation is needed because there are more players and customers who want that full-suite of capabilities. When it comes to on-demand video presentations, I would say that we’re just getting started. There aren’t really enough players here yet so I think it might be early to predict a lot of consolidation.


Q: So where does Brainshark fall in terms of future consolidation?

A: We are on the offense. I’m confident in saying that we’re the 800 pound gorilla in the market. Keep in mind that SlideRocket is a very different product from ours. They’re a PowerPoint replacement tool for individual users. We’re all about the enterprise level capabilities and content with a robust, secure, and scalable platform. I like where we stand based on what we’re seeing, and we’re positioned very nicely to keep up our rapid growth.