VCJ Report: Enterprises Get Appy as Seesmic, Others Go After Untapped Market

Loic Le Meur has always been a consumer tech guy.

Seesmic, the company he founded, rose to recognition by helping users manage their various social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter. And Le Meur himself has been a high-profile fixture at various Web 2.0 and social media conferences, including LeWeb, which takes place next month.

So it came as a shock when Le Meur (pictured) recently decided to abandon consumer technology. Seesmic, which recently raised $4 million in venture funding from Softbank Group and Salesforce.com, bringing its total capitalization to $16 million, is focusing all of its efforts on the burgeoning market for mobile apps in the enterprise.

Yes, Le Meur is excited about the enterprise.

“Basically, I went to the Android App Store to check out the business category, and I was shocked by how few choices there were,” Le Meur tells VCJ contributor Tom Stein. “The enterprise is a wide-open space. The opportunity is incredible.”

While developers have created hundreds of thousands of consumer apps, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, they have mostly ignored business users. But that is starting to change as smartphones and tablets invade the corporate world. And it only stands to reason that employees will soon be clamoring for business apps to use on them.

“Many organizations are switching their employees to mobile devices,” Le Meur says. “And you know what? There are no apps. They have nothing to put on them.”

Seesmic’s first business app, built specifically for smartphone and tablet users, is called Seesmic CRM for Salesforce. The app allows salespeople to look up leads, update accounts, and follow the newsfeeds and Twitter streams of prospects. The app also lets people log calls and emails on the go. And it will soon include a mobile notification feature. Seesmic is getting ready to raise its next round and hopes to attract somewhere between $5 million and $10 million, Le Meur says.

But not everybody is relying on an enterprise sales strategy. Evernote, which makes a mobile app that allows users to capture and archive random ideas and notes, recently surpassed 10 million users. Though the app is useful in a business setting, the company has yet to build an enterprise version and prefers to go directly to consumers.

Gary Little, a partner at Morgenthaler Ventures, which co-invested with Sequoia Capital in a $50 million investment in Evernote, loves that the app can be used in a personal and professional capacity. “Our thesis here was that, yes, Evernote could move from consumer to the enterprise, but the far bigger opportunity is consumers, and that is still our primary focus.”

The majority of Evernote users have chosen the free version of the app, but a growing number are starting to pay the $49 annual fee for the premium model. Evernote reported that paying customers doubled from over the first six months of this year from 200,000 to 400,000.

VCJ subscribers can read the full story of how VCs and startups are going after enterprise apps in the most recent issue of VCJ.

Not a VCJ subscriber? Click here for a free trial.

If you want to talk more about online apps or the enterprise, send an email to VCJ editor Alastair Goldfisher at alastair.goldfisher@thomsonreuters.com or contact him on Twitter at @agoldfisher.

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