SM: Your major competitive advantage is being a free platform as well as an open source platform?
DD: Yes. As you can imagine, Microsoft or WebEx Cisco are not going to become open source or free hosted solution companies anytime soon. Because of that, if you go to the web today and do a search on DimDim we have a higher number of hits than GoToMeeting. They spend more money on advertising, including TV advertising, yet we have more hits than they do. The blogosphere is really buzzing about DimDim today.
SM: You have five primary competitors: GoToMeeting, WebEx Cisco, Live Meeting, Breeze, and Adobe Connect. Are there any others?
DD: Those are the main ones.
SM: Is your primary positioning against all of them that you are free?
DD: The primary positioning against them is that we are a very rich web meeting environment. That is just one part of the entire picture.
SM: You do full video conferencing as well?
DD: We provide audio and video in the product. It is all done in the browser without any installations required on the recipient’s side. That is key. There are three things that are unique about DimDim. We have verified this by interacting with our customers and partners, with the open source communities, and with the free hosted community. First, it is about ease of use and usability. Second, it is about openness, and third, it is about portability.
H&R Block is a client of ours. The application they have built using DimDim integrates their tax portal into a real-time environment. Think about the legacy H&R Block as the asynchronous web going towards real time web with DimDim. That is what is happening. As a client of H&R Block, you can go to their website and see if your tax advisor is online. At that point you can click to contact them and start a chat session. At any point after that the advisor can, with the click of a button, start showing the 1040 documents to the client. That is all happening because as a consumer I do not have to install any software on my computer.
We are both technologists. It does not matter to us if we have to install something on our computers. We can go through those steps with ease. Regular users do not.
SM: I also think part of the problem with systems where you have to install a client is that the client side applications typically have a lot of failures. There are lots of client side environments which kick in and then all types of things go wrong. I have been in a lot of situations where I have watched problems with WebEx meetings starting up.
DD: Ease of use is key. Openness is also key. It is not only about being an open source company, but also about being an open culture company. When H&R Block came to us, they had already downloaded the software and used the documentation to build a prototype of what they were thinking about, and they wanted further refinement. They wanted the enterprise version for reliability. An open culture also means that all of our engineers know about all of our customers’ issues through our forums. All of our customers and our prospective customers know about any issues with our software as well.