A “cloudnostic” future


Credit: Anna Gordon/GigaOM

Chris Albrecht
Matthew Ingram
Brad Garlinghouse
Cory Van-Wolleningstein

Chris Albrecht 00:04

Thank you Jo and Frank. You know, here at GigaOM and GigaOM structure we aren’t afraid to make up words. That’s why we’re going to talk about the Cloudnostic future. Matthew Ingram, a senior writing for GigaOM, is going to be talking with Brad Garlinghous, the CEO of Hightail, formerly YouSendIt. Please welcome Matthew and Brad to the stage.

Matthew Ingram 00:33

Brad, thanks a lot for joining us, your company obviously used to have a different name, YouSendIt, which pretty obvious what that did, Hightail maybe not so obvious what, why the name change and what does it do, that it doesn’t do when it was called YouSendIt?

Brad Garlinghouse 00:50

So YouSentIt is a company that I think over eight years had built quite an amazing group of people over invested in that brand and that experience. There were 43 million registered users but for a lot of those users they only knew us for send. Over the last couple of years the product portfolio has expanded to include CloudBase file-sharing, CloudBase sync, ESign, a much broader suite of services. So it felt like we had outgrown the name in terms of our product let alone where we are going in the future. So it felt like it was time to rip off the bandaid and have a new name and a new brand and view that new name with media and in terms of where we are going.

Matthew Ingram 01:29

You and I talked about some of the names that people suggested or that were obvious so CloudBox, drive, Sky, Syn-cloud, why did you decide not to go with something that says box or driver?

Brad Garlinghouse 01:44

We did an April Fool’s joke and there’s actually still as learned backstage a website up that’s boxsharesyncdrop.com

Matthew Ingram 01:53

Feel free to sign up for that if you want.

Brad Garlinghouse 01:54

We’d announced as a joke that was going to be our new name because I think there’s so many companies in the space with those kind of words, sky, and we just felt like there’s an opportunity to do something different. We actually do I think have a pretty different view of where the market is going than our more notable cardboard competitors, making fun of the boxes. We certainly think there are good names out there and it’s always hard to pick a new name. We did a bunch of research about this name and it tested really, really well. It really gets to the heart of speed and agility, we use the kind of tagline of we help keep your ideas moving rather than just let’s put stuff in a box.

Matthew Ingram 02:33

Because the first thing I thought of was hightail it out of town?

Brad Garlinghouse 02:36

Were hightailing it into our competitors.

Matthew Ingram 02:41

Actually you mentioned the problem with–or one problem with of having a name that says box as you think of well it’s just where you put stuff and then once it’s in the box it’s kind of trapped in the box. Is that something you’d thought about?

Brad Garlinghouse 02:55

Absolutely. It’s again one of the reasons why we kind of chose a name that was different and distinct. We wanted to note that idea of motion and movement. We have a very large user base and a lot, lot of, lot of people are in the creative professional business for example. They want to interact with clients, it’s not just about hey, I can store my stuff it’s about how do I get my work done and interacting with people outside the firewall.

Matthew Ingram 03:21

Obviously you’re trying to do lots of other things than just send. You mentioned some of them, what, where is hightail going that other companies are not going?

Brad Garlinghouse 03:33

I think one of the biggest differences between how we think about the future verses I think at least how primarily boxes talk about the future is this idea that many of you probably know in California there’s Highway 101. There’s a billboard on 101 that says. “One cloud.” I just don’t think there’s going to be one cloud. We did some research with Ostermann and we found that nearly 20% of corporations in the EU already use between five and fifteen different CloudBase services. Now that includes everything from Evernote to Exchange, 365 what have you. But it gets to the heart of it, there’s not going to be one cloud. And so we have and the reason we have our session here is entitled Cloudnostic, we want to be cloud agnostic. For example we enable cross cloud search today.

Matthew Ingram 04:24

You just did that today?

Brad Garlinghouse 04:26

Today meaning we enable that, you can do that today, yes. There’s an app called Found, the Mac OS app store that allows you in kind of real time to search across Dropbox, Evernote, Gmail, Sharepoint excreta. We look at the future and say, companies are going to use multiple cloud based services. We need to make sure that the work we are helping companies to get done is actually cognitive of that and allows you to interact with that. We don’t think, I actually love following Aaron Levey on Twitter, but one of the things they will talk about, Microsoft is going out of business. That’s not happening any time real soon. SharePoint we can all criticize it’s user experience, the products but …

Matthew Ingram 05:13

You need to deal with it.

Brad Garlinghouse 05:14

80% of Fortune 500 companies are using SharePoint, and we integrate into SharePoint. We integrate into SharePoint. We don’t take a point of view like you have to rip and replace in order to benefit from CloudBase file management.

Matthew Ingram 05:30

And in fact in one sense, that billboard message, one cloud is kind of frightening in a way, if there is only one place where you put everything, that that person’s going to control it.

Brad Garlinghouse 05:45

I just think it’s unrealistic, I think there are amazing world class services, Sales Forces out there now talking about Sales Force files. Workdays doing interesting things, SuccessFactor’s doing interesting things. And even in a lot of different CloudBase tools and we want to make sure what we are building allows for the awareness and interoperability, and intersections of that. As we talked about, that creates more work for us to build interconnections and keep those up to date with whatever scheme the data is being stored in with those other services, but that’s okay. We want to make sure we make it as simple to do business with us as possible.

Matthew Ingram 06:24

So how many things do you federate with, how many different things do you integrate with?

Brad Garlinghouse 06:30

I would guess right now it’s in the kind of the seven to eight, maybe nine-ish range. We’re always trying to add to that list and spinning up new engineering teams. Our appetites greater than our eyes. It’s a resource constraint of spitting up new things. But we intend to support things like even documentum, which, I don’t think a lot of people are adopting documentum today but there is a lot of data hosted in documentum. Transitioning that to new platforms is difficult and takes time and it’s easier I think for us to integrate into those.

Matthew Ingram 07:07

Do you see what you call your cardboard competitors, are they your main competitors or is it Sales Force, or who is doing something that you see as the most like what you are trying to do?

Brad Garlinghouse 07:19

Box is clearly the company that we run into the most. We are selling into corporate accounts that is the competitor we run into the most for sure. They have about 18 or 19 million registered users – we’re at 43. We both I think benefit and depend upon the end user adoption. We see active users in 98% of the Fortune 500 and that has been an important–let’s get end users adopting, using, and loving the product and then go in and leverage that into more corporate sales.

Matthew Ingram 07:53

Do you find when you are talking to new corporate clients or trying to win new clients they just don’t know what Hightail is or they think you guys just renamed your file transfer company? Is it hard to communicate what you are trying to do apart from that?

Brad Garlinghouse 08:09

Well Hightail being a new brand, for sure there’s an element of who are you guys? Right now we often hit you we’re Hightail, parenthetically formerly known as YouSendIt. I think part of the reason frankly is a lot of corporations didn’t realize that was our core business, they felt like U was more of a consumer-centric dynamic. I think we’ve seen although this year has been going well, before we’ve seen Key3’s looking particularly strong, partly because people take a fresh look at what, they thought they knew what YouSendIt was doing. We met just recently with the CTO of a very, very, very large well know company and I found out afterwards from the person who had invited the CTO that he had said, “Why am I meeting these guy?” Then afterwards he’s like, “I had no idea they did all this stuff.” So it’s that type of dynamic that we think the name helps to deliver.

Matthew Ingram 08:58

And do you feel that the perception companies don’t want to get tied into one cloud, is that increasing? Is there a nervousness out there about sort of having all your stuff in one place or competing clouds, is that a problem people meet?

Brad Garlinghouse 09:14

Well the thing we think most about and it really gets to around security and control. We feel like being able to control your files and having transparency about how your files are being accessed and managed is paramount, particularly–

Matthew Ingram 09:31

You provide a lot of information about who’s touched it, what happen to it when?

Brad Garlinghouse 09:36

I’ve been at the company about 15 months and well before my arrival the company had as a bedrock of the company invested in security and control. So features like read receipt have been incredibly popular and it sounds mundane and simple but it’s nice to know that, okay I shared something with Matt and he accessed it and here is what time he accessed it, and here’s what time he assessed. And, oh, he accessed it a bunch of times and oh now he’s clearly shared it with somebody.

Matthew Ingram 09:58

Or he didn’t access it.

Brad Garlinghouse 09:59

Or he didn’t access it. That’s also useful as well. So read receipt is the most popular feature we have.

Matthew Ingram 10:10

You mentioned the file–?

Brad Garlinghouse 10:12

Password protected sent file?

Matthew Ingram 10:13

Right but also file expired?

Brad Garlinghouse 10:15

Correct we enable file expiration either based on time or based upon number of downloads. We talked about it, it’s almost snap chat for files.

Matthew Ingram 10:25

It feels like snap chat for files.

Brad Garlinghouse 10:28

We see around tax time a lot of up ticking and usage of QuickBooks type files and these things.

Matthew Ingram 10:33

But you only want to share that for a certain amount of time.

Brad Garlinghouse 10:35

Exactly. You don’t want it sitting out there and–you need to be able to control it where you know, great it’s been downloaded once, I’ve password protected that file so only one person could access and it’s gone.

Matthew Ingram 10:45

And you can apply that across platforms, across different providers and different services?

Brad Garlinghouse 10:49

We do that on our service today. We would like to see a world and it really depends on API’s and competitor support and the ability to aggregate metta-data so we can search as one step. Enabling read/write is to be determined. It depends upon which partner we’re talking about.

Matthew Ingram 11:07

Right, anyone have any questions?

Cory Van-Wolleningstein 11:10

Hello. Corey Van-Wollenstein from Dine, curious either from your own experience or what you are observing, when folks are choosing to be cloud agnostic, is this something that from the start of the initiative they are taking a multi-vendor strategy or are they starting down the course of having a single vendor and adding in that agnostic multi-vendor piece later on?

Brad Garlinghouse 11:33

Corey, I think it’s a great question and I think more often than not it’s the latter not the former. I think everyone can have almost a philosophical or an academic view of “Hey I want my life to be as simple as possible so I’m going to adopt one cloud.” Then they realize, “Okay, Wait a minute.” SuccessFactor is a great tool for human capital management so I’m going to adopt that. In addition I’m going to adopt maybe a CloudBased accounting tool and then all of a sudden you look at where you’ve found yourself. I was even surprised when I did this research to find 20% of EU businesses already with five to fifteen cloud providers is kind of astounding. Because I also think we are also we’re in early innings of the migration to more and more CloudBased applications. I don’t think everyone goes into it thinking I am going to top up loads of CloudBased tools they end up there by virtue of best of breed specialization.

Matthew Ingram 12:27

Any other questions? No? I will ask one then. I wondered obviously we’ve talked about it a lot here, yesterday and today, as soon as you mention cloud the first thing that comes to a lot of people’s minds is the NSA, surveillance, ubiquitous security issues, is that something you run into, is it something your clients or customers are concerned about? END 12:09

Brad Garlinghouse 12:51

There is no question that has raised – I think appropriately raised – more attention to this issue. We actually announced earlier this week, independent of this, in acquisition of a small company called Adept Cloud and it really is giving us the ability to grow into a new set of tools around security. So you can actually have all the benefits and simplicity of CloudBase sharing, but still keep that data in your private data center. I think a lot of companies are reasonably concerned about who has access to my data. It goes back to what I was talking about earlier, transparency and control. I think the thing, I personally view this as the Governments lack of transparency creates a level of paranoia almost, and it’s like wait a minute, what’s going on here. Whether it is well founded or not we find customers absolutely demand or asking for the kind of capabilities around control and transparency. And frankly if people want to host stuff in their data center and work with Hightail as an application that’s great by us, and that’s the acquisition we made around Adept Cloud.

Matthew Ingram 13:53

But do you think that fear is holding people back from using cloud services at all or public cloud services?

Brad Garlinghouse 14:00

I think it is probably not helping, but I also don’t think it’s really–the tidal wave of migration to CloudBase services and applications I think is overwhelming and unstoppable. But I think that people do want more transparency. We have just, really this morning announced that we are rolling out into more languages across Europe. We have 60% of our usage is from outside the United States and we’ve just really started localizing and rolling out German, Spanish, Italian in the next couple of weeks. We think regardless of what country you are in you should be able to benefit from these types of tools.

Matthew Ingram 14:39

Great. Well it looks like we are out of time. Thanks very much for coming.

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