Huddle sees 800% growth in enterprise sales

Security endorsements lead to enterprise and government sales boom for Silicon Roundabout collaboration provider

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Huddle sees 800% growth in enterprise sales

Huddle, the UK-based content collaboration cloud service provider, saw an 800% increase in sales to enterprise organisations, the company said today. Overall, Huddle's sales are on track to triple this year.

Speaking to Information Age this morning, Huddle CEO Alistair Mitchell said that the company's growth follows a particular focus on information security.

"If you look at our customer base, customers that really care about security – financial services, government, professional services – are some of our biggest customers," he said.

Next month, Huddle – whose service allows employees to manage, share and discuss files and documents –will announce that it has been certified as compliant with ISO 27001, an international standard that demonstrates management oversight of information security.

"That's a really big deal," Mitchell said. "You don't see many organisations of our size achieve ISO 27001 certification." By comparison, web giant Google only achieved ISO 27001 certification for its Apps service in June this year, in a bid to increase its government and enterprise sales in Europe.

Another endorsement of Huddle's security practices came this week from In-Q-Tel, a non-profit organisation that develops technology for use by US government departments.

In-Q-Tel has made an investment in Huddle, and the two organisations will work to develop a certified instance of the software for use by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and the National Geospatial–Intelligence Agency.

"This will be amongst our largest ever deals from the get go," says Mitchell. "And in terms of going from an early stage business to a global software company, this really moves us forward."

Closer to home, the company has won UK government customers including the Ministry of Justice. In June, it emerged that 89% of the money spent through the government's cloud procurement portal, G-Cloud, in the first two months after its launch went to Huddle.

Productivity boost

Security alone is not enough to sell a cloud service, however. According to Mitchell, the majority of customers buy Huddle to improve productivity. In a small survey of Huddle customers, conducted by the company itself, 85% of respondents said their employees save at least one hour of their time per week, as content is easier to find, access and share.

Mitchell adds that unlike some software-as-service offerings, which are often bought by business units without the knowledge or endorsement of the IT department, Huddle is often brought in at the behest of the CIO.

"The CIO has two massive challenges on their hands," Mitchell says. "One is very low adoption of existing systems – they've got a whole raft of legacy systems they want to get rid of if they can. The other is that they've got an influx of consumer technologies that they are scared stiff about – with good reason. They are not secure, they are not controlled; the CIO is losing control of information.

"We offer a way to give users what they want, give the CIO control of security that they need and the integration into existing systems," he says. "CIOs love us."

Mitchell says that the content management market is valued at around $25 billion annually – of which around $9 billion is taken up by Microsoft's SharePoint. Although there has been a blossoming of cloud-hosted, social collaboration start-ups such as Jive, Yammer and Huddle itself, these companies still only make up 1% of the market, he says, the rest comprising traditional, on-premise enterprise software.

But that will soon change, he adds. "Gartner believes that about 70% of the collaboration market will move to the cloud, but we think it is more like 85% to 90%," he says.

"We are just at the beginning of what is going to become a huge market."

Huddle confirmed again today that an IPO is on the cards at some point in the future. The company has received a total of $40 million of venture captial investment so far, but if it is to capture more of this $20 billion opportunity, it will need more growth capital than VC can offer, Mitchell says.

"When you get to a certain stage, you outgrow the private market," he explains. "An IPO is not an end in itself, it's just part of the journey."