In Q3 of 2004, one of the prominent VCs (JK&B Capital) from my prior hometown in Chicago, became a new investor in the instant messaging (IM) solution provider FaceTime Communications. The new round of $16 million drew cumulative capital to $30 million.
Now the general public has been familiar with IM applications from companies like AOL and Microsoft for popular use. Although mostly used for personal use, IM applications are getting increased traction in use in corporate situations such as for software development, quality assurance, and customer relationship management. But as addressed in a Computerworld article, there are clearly pain points when using IM for industrial-strength, enterprise situations, such as those in financial services where compliance processes need to be followed and electronic recording needs to be performed.
According to the same Computerworld article, 2004 will yield approximately $158.3 million in revenue in the U.S. for IM. By 2008, the number is expected to come to $424.3 million. The number of per user licenses is at about 10 million with projections to grow to about 80 million over the next 3 years.
What does all of this mean? Here's my off-the-cuff read of the tea leaves. Well if one takes a look at quick look at IM companies like IMlogic Inc., Akonix Systems Inc., FaceTime Communications, Jabber, etc., customer lists are looking pretty good net-net. Many of these new companies have drawn anywhere from $10 to $35 millionish (rough) in capital from at least 3 factions of well-known VCs. Many of these rounds seem to be healthy third rounds of financing if counting Seed, Series A, and Series B rounds. The table on the financing side may have all initial bets in when thinking about the number of VCs in the game, total and projected market size, and number of IM firms backed by professional VCs and blue chip companies.
Thus, given that the VCs may all be in and have even gone beyond ante a bit, IT organizations may want to revisit expanding their use of IM products to improve operations. Based on IT organizations I've talked and worked with, I know much IM use in the enterprise can be of a bit of a love-hate relationship … but it might be really right for your enterprise now and give your organization an extra edge.