Some key members of the Yahoo mafia are backing a new enterprise software startup with the very unenterprise-y name of Tomfoolery. The company’s goal is to make boring enterprise apps as mobile and easy to use as the best of consumer apps, co-founder Kakul Srivistava told me
Srivistava was GM of Flickr, Yahoo’s photo sharing service. Her co-founder Sol Lipman was VP of mobile for AOL and founder of Rally Up, 12seconds tv and Sticky Inc. Now their venture has $1.7 million in seed funding from former Yahoo’ers Jerry Yang and Brad Garlinghouse, as well as Ash Patel of Morado Venture Partners, Sam Pullara of Sutter Hill Ventures, David Tisch of Tech Stars NY and Andreessen Horowitz.
The company has a mobile-first plan because most people now pretty much live in and through their small devices, she said. “You can do video conferences, chat, text all on your mobile,” she said. The first app, for iOS, is due in the first quarter. The company will add Android support later.
“There’s growing pain and frustration at the gap between the great tools we have at home and those at work — email and IM — which are 30 years old,” she said. “We want lightweight interactions within the culture of the team … IBM and Microsoft are still the leaders in enterprise applications and they’re not who you think about when you think about innovative, social experiences– there’s room for improvement.”
Taking on the dinosaurs
Of course pundits have long predicted the demise of email which, despite complaints, is still going strong. “No one will replace email but it’s an incomplete tool because it’s so prevalent although people use it in a way it’ s not designed for.”
Of course, the incumbents are not waiting for startups to pass them by. Microsoft bought Yammer, to bring Twitter-like functionality into the office. Salesforce.com’s Chatter attacks the same problem and this week IBM talked up Connections which draws on the social networking meme. I agree with Srivistava, however, that many workers, especially the younger smartphone-wielding generation, have little to no patience for the monolithic desktop applications their predecessors used. Mobile first is a valid strategy for that audience.