Huddle Hasn’t Lost Sight of the Endgame: Going Public

Originally published on Talkin’ Cloud in October 2014.

Huddle hasn’t lost sight of its endgame: going public within the next few years. But it’s not going to file for an initial public offering (IPO) until it’s ready.

“It is certainly part of our plan and we’re building towards an IPO in coming years, but we’ll wait until the time is right for the business,” says Alastair Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of Huddle, a cloud-based collaboration, content management software company headquartered in San Francisco.

One of Huddle’s largest competitors filed for an IPO earlier in the year, but it looks like it’s now holding it until its fiscal fourth quarter. Box filed a prospectus back in March with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with the intent to raise $250 million in its IPO.

Even though Huddle — which has raised $38.2 million in financing to date — was quiet for most of the summer, its product development team was busy grinding away at new products — and still is. Huddle most recently announced a new publishing and analytics platform, which will available in early 2015. The platform, still in development, is being to designed assist organizations with measuring and tracking interactions with content.

Other than Box, some of Huddle’s competitors in its space include Hyperoffice, LiquidPlanner, Pivotal Labs, Podio and Zoho Projects.

Talkin’ Cloud sat down with Mitchell to find out more about Huddle’s vision for 2015. Here’s the full interview.

CJ Arlotta: How does a Web-based collaboration software company, like Huddle, stay innovative in an overcrowded file sync and share market?

Alastair Mitchell: As a cloud collaboration service that enables enterprise and government organizations to securely store, access, share and work on files with everyone they need to — regardless of whether they’re inside or outside of an organization’s firewall — we’re first and foremost focused on productivity. Unlike other players in the market, Huddle isn’t standalone file sync and share, nor is it standalone social software. Huddle enables clients to work better together as teams to create deliverables, meet milestones and drive decision-making. This has a real and valuable impact on organizations, enabling them to accelerate time to market, grow their customer bases and develop better end products.

CJ: From your perspective, what are Huddle’s competitors doing wrong?

AM: Many players in this space have focused on pure file sync and share or standalone social software. The challenge they now face is, as file sync and share services started life in a consumer, freemium market, value is perceived as very low and getting lower as “sync and share” becomes commoditized. It’s now simply a feature of cloud storage tools such as G-Drive and OneDrive. Although file sync and share is a very useful feature for enterprise software, collaboration is where the true value now lies. Similarly, standalone social tools for business are dying as they simply add to the fire hose of noise that teams have to deal with on a daily basis rather than creating more efficient and productive workforces.

Conversations without a focus veer off course and become a distraction. To be truly efficient and productive enterprise technology needs to be social with a purpose. Conversations and content have to come together to ensure there’s context and focus. Huddle has created a workspace environment for teams that brings together content, social capabilities, and context via our intelligent recommendation engine, so users only need to be in one place to get work done. This is what’s needed to transform the way people work in an increasingly fast-paced environment.

CJ: As a customer, what should I expect from a Web-based collaboration software company?

AM: Customers have to ensure that they’re working with a collaboration provider not only meets the expectations of their workforce in terms of productivity and usability, but also their stringent security requirements.

CJ: With the year coming to a close, how are companies in this space gearing up for next year? What will Huddle look like in 2015?

AM: For the collaboration market as a whole, 2015 is going to be all about mobile, intelligence and collaboration as a business enabler rather than just an efficiency driver. With the workforce becoming increasingly mobile, there’s going to be more demand for technology that enables people to work with teams on files — regardless of their location and the device they’re using — and move beyond pure sync and share offerings. For Huddle, we’ll be continuing to grow our business globally and ensuring that we meet the needs of today’s workforce. Mobile collaboration, intelligence and seamless working will all be key next year.

Mitchell was one of the first CEOs to participate in Talkin’ Cloud’s “Friday’s Last Word” column, which is open to cloud-centric CEOs who are willing to let their guard down to have a little fun. His November 2013 interview can be found here.

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