Lyle Fong on Software as a Service

On 2007.11.07, in Technology, by Greg

Lyle Fong spoke yesterday at Stanford. Highly recommended. His presentation is here. He spoke before a computer science class, CS309A, instructor for which is Timothy Chou.

Lyle discussed his experiences starting Lithium. Lithium powers (with web services) online communities for companies. Quoted: “A successful online community will provide a positive and productive environment for its members to learn, share, and connect over subjects that they care about. With enterprise communities, it is a chance for customers to interact with you, your other customers and your brand. Your ultimate goal is to help improve their overall experience with your company or organization whether it is through engaging them, supporting them or soliciting feedback from them.”

About Lyle — quoted: “Prior to starting Lithium Technologies, Lyle co-founded GX Media, where he was the CTO. He drove the development of Gamers.com, which was rated the #1 independent gaming portal by Nielson NetRatings. Lyle was instrumental in raising a total of $15M in funding led by CMGI, negotiating multi-million dollar technology licensing deals with Dell, Sony, AltaVista, and Ziff-Davis, and spearheading the spin-off of Lithium Technologies. Lyle was also the driving force behind the creation of technologies for professional gaming, including a global rankings system, tournament engine, and a real-time match reporting and spectating system. These technologies were the key success factors behind the AMD PGL, the most successful and highly acclaimed professional gaming league to date with over 100 million media impressions, and also numerous tournaments for Sega.”

The decision makers at Lithium did a comprehensive review of their product and came to the conclusion that their core competency is providing software as a service to empower companies to use their own user base for tech support. He suggests that there is a progression from the company doing all the work, to the company doing some of the work, to Web 2.0 in which the users become agents for the company providing advice and tech support.

My take: it seems that Lithium is creating silos company by company. After all, the real tech support challenge is the situation in which you have multiple companies’ products and you are trying to get them to work together. Classic example is you have a computer from Dell or Compaq, operating system from Microsoft or Linux, and device from someone else. Lithium will really take off when it supports many companies that work together and uses that for leverage.

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