After adding online payments exec Bill Ready as an Executive-In-Residence, Accel Partners is shoring up another area of expertise with the addition of former Salesforce.com executive Chuck Ganapathi as the firm’s newest Entrepreneur-in-Residence. At Accel, Ganapathi, who was the creator of Salesforce’s “Facebook for the Enterprise” Chatter, will focus on developing a company in the social enterprise space within Accel.
Prior to joining Accel, Ganapathi served as Senior Vice President of Products for Chatter and Mobile atsalesforce.com, leading the company’s product development efforts in enterprise social networking. Not only was Chatter Salesforce’s first real foray into social, but the platform has been lauded as the company’s most successful product release ever.
During that time, Ganapathi led the acquisitions of two start-ups: Dimdim, a real-time collaboration platform, and GroupSwim, a community platform with semantic filtering technology. He also led the integration of the acquired technology and teams from two file sharing and collaboration start-ups, Koral and SlideAware.
Ganapathi also ran Salesforce’s SaaS automation product, Sales Cloud, which makes up one of the company’s major revenue streams. Prior to his 5 year tenure at Salesforce, Ganapthi spent 6 years at Siebel Systems, where he was the founding product manager of their first internet application, Siebel eChannel. He also ran the company’s eCommerce and order management product line.
As an entrepreneur-in-residence at Accel Partners, Ganapathi will evaluate and incubate new business opportunities created by the intersection of social and mobile technologies in the enterprise.
Clearly Ganapathi has significant expertise in the enterprise software industry, and has had a particular focus in social areas of late. While Ganapathi didn’t reveal any specifics on what he will be building while at Accel, he shared his view that he believes social enterprise applications like Chatter are just the beginning of a long-term trend.
“Similar to the way we went from the Siebel’s of the world over to Salesforce, there will be a similar move for social enterprise,” Ganapathi explains. Of course, there are a number of more mature and dominant companies that have emerged in the social enterprise space such as Jive and Yammer, and many social enterprise companies are getting bought. One could argue that there may not be more room left for new players.
But Ganapathi says that there are certain areas that are changing and are ripe for innovation, including how to translate conversations taking place in the work environment into productivity, and the transition in the distribution models in SaaS.
So how does the social enterprise fit into Accel’s longterm strategy? Partner Kevin Efrusy, who attended Stanford’s business school with Ganapathi, explains that one of cornerstones to the venture firm’s investment strategy has been furthering opportunities built on top of social web. Accel bet on social games with Playfish, social commerce with Groupon, and most recently, social recruiting with BranchOut.
Now, he explains, the time is right for a movement in the social and mobile enterprise space, and Accel decided to incubate an idea in-house. He adds that Ganapathi’s expertise and ‘technical depth’ made him the ideal person to execute this vision.
And the incubation/EIR model has seen success within Accel in the past. Cloudera, the startup that commercially distributes and services Apache Hadoop, was also incubated within Accel. And Couchbase, a NoSQL data base company, was also developed in-house.