Our List of the Top Enterprise Startups of 2012
Everyone loves to talk about consumer-facing products, but the real money is in enterprise software. As mentioned by Sequoia’s Jim Goetz, enterprise software is a $500 billion market, and yet there are so few startups trying to tackle it. Instead, many early stage companies focus on consumer-facing products, but those profits are tenuous and slim compared to the huge opportunities that exist in the enterprise world. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the top enterprise startups of 2012.
The year may be far from over, but it’s still pretty clear already who’s been stepping into the spotlight recently. You’ve probably heard of a great many of them, and most have already been featured on our site in our Behind the Software Q&A series. If you aren’t already following the trajectory of these companies, now’s the time to start paying attention. In no particular order, here’s what we think are the top enterprise startups of 2012:
Okta’s Cloud Identity Management Platform is the next big step in enterprise security, given the shift to BYOD and proliferation of cloud applications. In our interview with Okta’s VP of Products, Eric Berg, he told us how one of the top concerns when it comes to the cloud is security, which is one of the reasons why Okta is on our list. Not only are they addressing a real need in the enterprise space, but they’re doing so in a way that’s easy and simple to use for the end-user, which is not generally a description that we associate with IT.
Our changing technology world has made business infinitely more collaborative and communication-focused, which is why web and video conferencing are such staples in the business world today. Unfortunately, so many solutions out there are either difficult to implement because of differences in hardware between individuals and offices, or they’re just difficult to use in general. Not so with Blue Jeans Network. This web-based video conferencing service only requires signing up for an account on their site and subscribing to a plan before you’re ready to start collaborating with team members and meeting with clients. As a unified platform, it doesn’t matter what device, browser, or operating system you use–Blue Jeans Network just works.
Square made waves in August with the announcement that they were partnering up with Starbucks, demonstrating the company’s meteoric growth over the past several years. Over 2 million people reportedly use Square’s mobile app and payment system, and they’ve recently gone even further with their new Pay with Square service that only requires you to say your name to a participating merchant in order to make purchases. Square has revolutionized the way that small businesses handle point-of-sale transactions, essentially turning anyone into a small business owner. The unveiling of Pay with Square only goes to show that the company is not content to rest upon its laurels, so it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with next.
We’ve written about Piston Cloud numerous times, as well as included them in our Behind the Software series, so it probably goes without saying that their work in cloud computing and IaaS is well worthy of mention in this list. The 2012 winners of the Best of VMware, Piston Cloud built its product on OpenStack, delivering private cloud environments to the enterprise. Not only that, but they also participate in the OpenStack Foundation, which promotes the development, distribution, and adoption of OpenStack’s cloud operating system, providing thought-leadership, support, ans resources for software developers.
Another company that we’ve covered in our Behind the Software series, Bromium focuses on delivering security in the cloud through hardware virtualization. With a mission of building systems that are “trustworthy by design,” Bromium is eliminating the worry over BYOD by ensuring that an enterprise’s network is secure no matter what devices connect to it. Rather than IT having to worry about things like spending countless hours tracking down and eliminating malware and viruses that were introduced to the network by outside devices, Bromium Microvisor creates an environment where that’s never an issue to begin with. Considering the growing trend of BYOD in the enterprise, solutions like Bromium will no doubt lead the way in enterprise security.
If you haven’t heard of Box already, you’ve probably been living under a rock. As one of the fastest growing companies in Silicon Valley, Box makes it easy for anyone to share and access their content from anywhere. Although their competition includes the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive, Box sets itself apart by specifically targeting businesses rather than consumers by delivering collaboration, admin, and security tools for managing content in the cloud. On top of that, they recently opened up their platform to developers to create apps that integrate with Box (similar to Salesforce.com’s AppExchange), as well as build your own apps and icons. Plus, they have their own conference; I’d say that’s a point in their favor.
Server infrastructures may not sound very sexy, but there’s no doubt that they’re extremely necessary for the success of cloud computing in the enterprise. Opscode has made it their mission to “automate the world’s infrastructure,” and they’re doing such a good job of it that they’ve raised a total of $33 million since launching in 2008. Their primary offering, Chef, uses the analogy of a cookbook and recipes in order to make automating servers as easy as possible for IT, and their users are measured in the tens of thousands. Not only that, but their software is available for free in an open source version, making it available to all IT professionals to use in order to save themselves time and money.
While it’s more of a social network for programmers than a software solution, GitHub is definitely on its way to becoming the next big thing in enterprise technology. Their site boasts 2.25 million people hosting 3.88 million repositories through which they collaborate and share their code, projects, and software in order to create bigger and better things. In November of last year, they launched GitHub Enterprise in order to deliver a secure environment for enterprises to develop, collaborate, build their own software. Considering the fact that Andreessen-Horowitz recently invested $100 million in the company, there’s very little doubt that GitHub is destined for great things.
With NoSQL database technology currently disrupting the market for traditional relational databases, Couchbase delivers solutions that can help enterprises and software developers handle the sheer volume of data that we now have to deal with on an everyday basis. Because user volume, big data, and cloud applications demand high-performing NoSQL technology, Couchbase has made it its mission to provide databases that are not only easier to develop with, but also have the scalability that relational database technologies don’t deliver. For more, check out our interview with Couchbase.
Honorable Mention - Uber
Although this isn’t really an enterprise software company, no doubt there are business people everywhere who will want this app on their phones. Uber is a company that I actually started hearing about from my friends before I ever heard a word about them in the startup world; and the ability to get a ride within minutes is priceless, especially in cities where you can’t expect cab companies to dependable, which is basically everywhere that isn’t New York. The app allows you to see which town cars are in your vicinity, and it alerts one to your location so that you have a ride home almost immediately. I’ve seen it in action in the real world, and it’s pretty darn slick. Even though I don’t like going out in San Francisco on Halloween, I have half a mind to do so just to see whether Uber can handle what is sure to be an extremely busy night.
Who’s on Your List of the Top Enterprise Startups of 2012?
That’s our list, but we want to hear about yours. Who do you feel like deserves to make it to year-end lists of top enterprise startups? Or maybe you disagree with the ones that we’ve chosen here? Leave us a note in the comments and tell us what you think.