SM. Where did you get the idea for your current venture? What is your domain experience in the segment?
SS: When I joined ON24 in 1998, we had 2-3 people. We were using streaming audio and video but the business model had not been developed. I saw that as an opportunity because streaming was in its infancy, and I believed it could only grow.
In 1999 and 2000, we started ON24 as a financial multimedia venture. We shut this portion down in 2001, after the dot-com bust. Since then, we have grown to be a leading provider of webcasting and rich media solutions. We’re in avery different business today than what we started with. Most of our team is new. The two co-founders left when we switched gears so dramatically. It was like starting a whole new venture, but based on our understanding of streaming video.
SM. What was the market landscape like when you repositioned the company? Competition? Competitive Positioning?
SS: When I joined ON24, we had a different business model. At that time, streaming media was in its infancy. The competition wasn’t in the number of companies but rather the acceptance of steaming media within the marketplace.
During the downturn in 2000-2001, our business model was challenged, but our original business enabled us to create a brand for ON24 within the financial services and technology worlds. We leveraged this brand as we started to migrate our business model in 2001 to webcasting and rich media marketing solutions.
We see companies like Webex and Citrix (GoToMeeting) in deals, but they are a fundamentally meeting / collaboration oriented solution, against our inherently large online events based positioning. If you are trying to do something with 20-25 people, you are
better off with one of them. But if you want to do an online webinar with hundreds and thousands of people, pretty much your best bet is On24.
SM: Describe the value proposition, including differentiation versus the rest of the market.
SS: We’re in a unique position as we provide a wide range of webcasting and rich media marketing solutions. Unlike web conferencing, which is more for small collaborative meetings, our solution looks at holding online events for hundreds and thousands of people. Since launching our first product in 2002, we’ve maintained a leadership position in this category.
When I speak to our customers, they cite our scalable and reliable technology platform, ability to innovate, and outstanding professional services as reasons why they work with us.
There may be companies that have components of our solutions, but from a comprehensive solutions offering and customer service level, I believe that this is what truly sets us apart from everyone else in the marketplace.
The other issue is that Webex and other WebMeeting providers have a large phone component in tackling audio. Our approach is more purely through the internet. We deliver audio and video, both purely through the internet. This is the only way we can support thousands of people in one session.
Most of our customers use On24 of lead generation webinars or online training type sessions. We do everything for these customers from registration, tracking, lead scoring, etc.