Hired! I’m joining Mimecast!
As of this morning I work for Mimecast. The title is “Director of Communities and Content”. The focus is Email. Fun is expected (via Tim Bray).
Well, as many of you know, I’ve been looking for a new home for my skills for a little while- I really miss being part of a team and having a clear focus that you don’t get while consulting. I’ve been having loads of conversations but most of the offers have been US centric, at which point the conversation ended with “I’m not looking to relocate to San Francisco/New York/Boston” (delete as appropriate). Not much good for me- so I was sticking to consulting…
That changes today. I’ve been looking for a UK based SaaS company with a great team, excellent technology, traction, a compelling vision and well funded- I found this at Mimecast. I was introduced to Mimecast by one of their VC’s, Josh Bell and their marketing director, Tim Pickard. The process was slick- lunch with Tim, then an interview with the CEO Peter Bauer and three days later a group presentation to the team (60 minutes of new content in three days- nice!).
They made an offer and I accepted, so here I am.
Well like I mentioned before, I was looking for a great team, excellent technology, traction, a compelling vision and well funded. Not so easy to find in the UK.
I think there are three interesting things to highlight- technology, traction and vision.
For those of you that don’t know, Mimecast provides email security, archiving, compliance and continuity primarily focused on Microsoft Exchange. The really interesting thing about the technology is that it uses a grid style data architecture, similar to Gmail or Google Apps, which means you get Gmail style horizontal scalability, speed and searchability, but for Exchange.
This is delivered using an Outlook connector, so you don’t have to leave Outlook to search and should the exchange server go down, the connector takes over email delivery and delivers continuity. Once the Exchange server is back up, it seamlessly syncs the changes back to server giving users the impression of no downtime. Nice! Having that at my VAR would have saved me many nights trying to recover corrupted exchange stores and angry customers…
I also think Mimecast technology could underpin the next wave of SaaSification of email- there are major unresolved issues with Hosted Exchange (known as BPOS) competing with Google and a swathe of hosters and resellers stuck in the middle without any differentiation.
In terms of traction, Mimecast has almost been flying below the radar, while sweeping up verticals, like the UK legal sector; with over half the top 100 legal firms as customers. When joining somewhere, it’s great to see marquee customers who will have done their due diligence and not stuck around if it wasn’t up to scratch- especially lawyers! This to me feels like great product / market fit.
The last of the compelling reasons I wanted to join was the vision- which is to be the archive of unstructured data on the net. Let me expand on this a little, as I understand it… One of the major problems I’ve been seeing with Enterprises adopting SaaS is Security, Compliance and Archive. They don’t really care about the ROI of SaaS if organisationally it doesn’t comply with their policies. So organisations are faced with the following: “The 4 states of SaaS in the Enterprise”:
- Embraced- IT embraces SaaS and cloud technologies
- Managed- IT manages the businesses use of SaaS and Cloud
- Don’t Ask- Don’t Tell- IT ignores the presence and risks
- Banned- IT actively tries to stop SaaS and Cloud initiatives
So how does an archive of unstructured data on the net help things? Well firstly backup. At the moment backing up cloud/SaaS data is hard, and there only recently emerging a few services, like Backupify. They’re freemium and based on Amazon EC2, so I think there is space for an Enterprise grade, data protection compliant SaaS/Cloud backup service.
Secondly Archive. SaaS is becoming increasingly transient, e.g. buy basecamp for that month long project and then decommission- in fact the whole notion of Cloud i.e. elasticity is based on transiency. This isn’t good for enterprise data though, without a good export done by the team at the end and somewhere to store it, that valuable data is lost. It should be archiveable and the enterprise should be able to search and discover that information forever.
Thirdly Compliance. At the moment you don’t know how information is being used in each SaaS or Cloud application, and who has been accessing it like you did when you ran internal systems. I’ve seen people not buy SaaS solutions because of this loss of control.
Lastly- Disaster recovery. As much as we trust SaaS providers, there will be some data losses. This could be the insurance policy for organisations to adopt SaaS, without fear that it’ll be their data that’s lost or the provider suddenly goes out of business and their servers are turned off- because code Escrow is useless if you can’t get access to your data!
I think I’ve probably said enough about the vision- especially as it is exactly that, a vision and not reality today- but I think it’s vitally important to work somewhere where the vision is compelling.
What I’m going to do
Lots of speaking, conferences, blogging and twittering! As an Evangelist I’ll be much more available to everyone- no more pesky consulting gigs taking over my time!
I’m going to keep blogging and running the SaaS community on Linkedin, but I’ll be speaking and attending many more conferences and events. In fact, the extra time I’ll have will enable me to launch some exciting new projects that have been stalled because of lack of time and or resources… I can’t wait- I’ve been collaborating with some of the best people in SaaS behind the scenes for months and the results will be on show soon!
What I’m not going to do
Obviously I’m not going to change the style or content here. That’s not what you want and they understand. I guess I’ll have to add a disclaimer to say that it’s my personal opinion… But for full disclosure and as you’d expect Mimecast did ask to see an advance draft of this post prior to publishing which I think is fair enough and I would ask of me exactly the same thing.
Well, today is my first day, so I’m going to be getting to know my new colleagues and the organisation, but as always, you can reach me via email- firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments. If you’re interested in consulting, I’ve handed off my practice to the excellent Lincoln Murphy of Sixteen Ventures, so if you need help- go and talk to him!