View from the valley

Earlier this month, eXo finally opened our first U.S. office. This was a long time coming. As much as we have wanted to be in the North American market, we always knew we had to do it right. That means with the right partner and the right people to help open the right doors for us. For me, it also meant a personal commitment to move to the U.S. to lay the groundwork for eXo’s success.

After being in Silicon Valley for a month, I have definitely noticed that things move at a much faster pace here. The network is huge, and thanks to our advisors and professional peers, I’ve been able to tap into this network already. Every week, there’s some conference or event that’s worth checking out. And it is a very active technology community here. On the one hand, I expected this because the Valley is still very much at the center of the global tech industry. On the other hand, I did not realize to what extent all this meant.

One of the pick ups we’ve seen already is in sales opportunities. Just having a presence in the U.S. has enabled eXo to enter accounts where we had been excluded in past. And this came about before we have fully automated marketing and lead generation on our site. This a new level of marketing investment that eXo has not had to consider before, but a crucial step as we adjust from an indirect sales model in Europe to a direct sales model in the North American market. Until now, eXo has sold mostly through ISVs and systems integrator partners such as Bull, Cross Systems, and Business Decision. In Europe, very few significant IT initiatives are undertaken without an SI. It’s a different game in the U.S., and I find myself constantly thinking about repeatable sales processes.

We are also modifying how we productize eXo software. In the European market, we will continue to offer Community Supported Editions of the eXo stack to our public sector customers. Here, we are moving to an Enterprise Edition distribution similar to Red Hat’s RHEL/fedora model. As we refine this packaging, you can expect to hear more about this in the near future.

One last thing we are seeing is a shift in how we sell our offerings. In Europe, open source software was never about cost but rather about access to the source code. Here, we’re anticipating cost to be an important factor in the sales pitch — not so much that we’re cheaper but rather that we provide the best value with our software.

At eXo, we’ve built a low-cost distributed agile team with a huge R&D force. We drive much of the R&D from our centers in Vietnam and The Ukraine; sales operations from Tunisia; and  packaging and conceptualization from France. With sales and marketing strategy now driven out of our U.S. center, we have put in place the final building block to accelerate and sustain eXo’s growth. I am personally very excited to be leading this effort from San Francisco!

On a side note, I will be speaking on the Enterprise 2.0 Conference panel about “Open Social in the Enterprise” next Wednesday, November 4th at 10:15 a.m. If you’ll be in attendance, I hope you will consider sitting in on this. Otherwise, send me an email or tweet if you’d like to meet up.

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