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Huddle Snags $24M, Aims at SharePoint

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Posted May 25, 2012 By Ann All     Feedback

UK-based enterprise content management provider Huddle will use a $24 million investment to expand its presence in the U.S. But ultimately Huddle plans to take on Microsoft SharePoint, says its CEO.

Alastair Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of Huddle, a provider of enterprise content management (ECM) software, pegs his company as a SharePoint killer. He engineered a stunt in October in which a Huddle marching band and cheerleaders crashed Microsoft’s SharePoint 2011 conference in California.

In a blog post describing the stunt, Mitchell offered a large list of reasons why Huddle’s product is superior to SharePoint . Among them:

  • Huddle is easier and less costly to deploy than SharePoint.
  • Users like Huddle. So much so that the company offers an adoption guarantee that promises a refund to organizations that don’t attain 100 percent adoption of the product in 90 days. In contrast, SharePoint isn’t always a hit with users. A late 2010 survey commissioned by Mainsoft, a company that makes products designed to help companies derive value from SharePoint, found 80 percent of email users with SharePoint access favored email over SharePoint for sharing documents with coworkers.
  • Huddle possesses cloud characteristics that seem like an especially good idea for collaboration software, namely flexibility, scalability and monthly product updates.

Huddle on the Grow

Given Mitchell’s job title, it’s no surprise he is pitching Huddle as a strong SharePoint competitor. But Huddle also just got a vote of confidence from venture capital partnership Jafco Ventures, snagging $24 million in a Series C round of funding.

DAG Ventures, existing investors Matrix Partners and Eden Ventures and prominent individual investors including WebEx founder Subrah Iyar also participated in the round. This brings Huddle’s total equity funding to $40 million.

Huddle, a UK-based company, will use some of the money to expand its sales presence on the U.S. East Coast. Headquartered in London and with an office in San Francisco, Huddle this month established operations in New York.  According to Mitchell, three-quarters of UK government agencies use Huddle. Hoping to see similar demand from U.S. agencies, Huddle also plans to open an office in Washington, D.C. this year.

Since its founding in 2007, Huddle has grown from two employees – Mitchell and co-founder Andy McLoughlin – to a workforce of roughly 200. As Mitchell noted in a blog post announcing the funding, Huddle is tripling sales every year and expects to see an eight-fold increase in enterprise sales in 2012. It counts 80 percent of the Fortune 500, including Unilever and Kia Motors, among its 100,000 customers.  

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In a company statement, Mitchell tapped Huddle’s cloud model as one reason for its success. "In today's knowledge economy, the most successful companies are those that make the best use of information. Yet traditional ECM (enterprise content management) systems are failing to support the new ways in which people are now sharing information and working together. These systems were designed for content storage, not collaboration; for servers -- not for the cloud,” he said.

The cloud, along with the consumerization of IT and increased use of mobile devices by knowledge workers is “forcing enterprises of all sizes to re-think how they create, store, access and share information," said Martin Schneider, research manager with technology analysis firm 451 Research. “Companies like Huddle understand this change -- and help address the needs of the modern workplace by offering up simple tools to foster collaboration and information sharing in ways that can break down departmental silos, increase employee productivity and simply help companies deal with the changing nature of how we work as individuals and teams," he added.

Ann All is editor of Enterprise Apps Today. Follow Enterprise Apps Today on Twitter @EntApps2Day.

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