Why we are not afraid of Microsoft

In a recent post, Forbes columnist Gene Marks predicted that Microsoft just put Freshdesk and a few other companies out of business by acquiring Parature and announcing that it will be integrated into the Dynamics CRM platform.

As a fellow entrepreneur, I’m happy for the founders of Parature and their team. I would like to congratulate them on the successful exit.  I would also like to thank Gene for calling out Freshdesk as the company that Microsoft  just put out of business. Come on, who doesn’t enjoy getting killed by Microsoft? The fact that we are on this list means that we have come a long way from being Bizspark winners in 2011, and have earned his respect (to be considered as competition to Microsoft). I am really proud of that. However, the world has changed a lot, and Gene’s prediction may not come true. Here are a few points to consider:

1. When was the last time Microsoft put anybody out of business? I think the days of Microsoft putting companies out of business ended when the Windows monopoly ended. People remember the Internet Explorer vs Netscape story but that was 15 years before Google, Facebook, Twitter or smartphones had entered the picture. More than half of our employees hadn’t completed 5th grade by then.

The Zune was supposed to be the iPod killer. The Windows Phone is supposed to be the iPhone and Android killer. The Surface is supposed to be an iPad killer. And Bing is supposed to be the Google killer. We understand that we’re not Apple or Google, but with all due respect to Microsoft, it’s a much different world now than it was in 1998.

2. Salesforce acquired Assistly in 2011 and people were predicting that it was supposed to be the end of Freshdesk. Too bad we grew to 15,000 customers and continue to win more and more customers away from Desk.com (formerly Assistly) even after Salesforce dropped product prices and abolished add-on pricing. Just how many times are we supposed to die?

3. Customers are not stupid – In today’s world, customers understand that they have options and they know how to find them. We are definitely not underestimating Microsoft’s financial muscle and global reach. But what Gene and others are missing is the fact that Dynamics CRM has had ticketing functionality for several years now (and they didn’t put any of us out of business.)

Initial reports seem to indicate that the acquisition was primarily for the Knowledge Base capability to be integrated into Dynamics CRM which already has ticket management features. So, it is fairly reasonable to expect that Microsoft will be asking Parature customers to switch to Dynamics CRM’s ticketing functionality once the KBase integration is over.

The Microsoft acquisition, if anything, gives Parature founders a safe landing. For Parature customers who feel abandoned while they wait another year or two for the completion of integration into Dynamics CRM – we have some good news. Freshdesk is pleased to extend a “Parachute to the Future” offer to enable them to land safely in the land of Happy Customers!

Please email us at parachute@freshdesk.com and we will help you import your data and move to Freshdesk!

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  • Joel John

    That attitude! :o
    Am stunned :)

    • http://about.me/confusedesi Partha Biswal

      In the most goosebumpy way, I presume.

  • Bon James

    Girish does it again!

  • Gowri Shankar

    Impressive!!!

  • Menachem Began

    Certain categories of commercial SW products, especially those in 3-letter acronymized market segments (e.g. “ERP”), should be subjected to a programming contest where the goal is to write the tightest possible functional equivalent. Over the years I’ve met some major and very expensive SW suites that could obviously be rewritten in about 200 bytes of functional code, plus maybe a few hundred kilobytes of human readable message strings or tables of constants. The contest would be judged on the size of the functional code module itself (not the necessary accompanying data).

    • Watson

      Can you make a user interface in those 200 bytes that anyone outside of a operations research laboratory will be able to use without stabbing their eyes out?

      If yes, you should write these 200 bytes, and make a billion dollars selling it to companies (since it’s sure to have far fewer bugs than the million-line competition). As a programmer, I’d be excited to see it!

      If no, and you mean it only in the Chuck Moore sense (“My program can compute this in only 6 instructions! Just put the input in register CX in units of 1/8192nds of a volt, and the output is in the BX register in units of 4 nanoseconds, with overflow in the low bit of EX”), then I’m not sure what good that does anybody. People want programs, not “the tightest possible functional equivalent”.

      Are you also upset that people buy cars with comfortable seats and radios and air conditioning, rather than watching auto racing events and buying the car with the fastest engine?

      • Menachem Began

        Hint: 99.99% of the lovely and rich UI can be stored as data in the non-functional tables. The engine to drive the rich UI is obviously trivial. About 35 years ago I wrote a text Adventure game (the engine and logic, not the text content) in *one* LoC. One line, about 65 bytes IIRC. Also wrote a primitive graphical video game in one LoC.

  • drhowarddrfine

    The only people afraid of Microsoft are those who work with Microsoft. Nobody else cares what they do cause Microsoft doesn’t matter anymore.

  • VivekRaja

    Whistles! Claps! What not? Bubbling with pride an joy reading this article that comes purely out of attitude, knowledge and hard work. I read a similar article when Zoho challenged Salesforce on a similar line. Cheers Girish! You are making the Indian ecosystem proud!

  • Watson

    While I agree with the general premise that people tend to be much more afraid of big companies than they need to be, your examples are lacking.

    You ask “When was the last time Microsoft put anybody out of business?”, and then point to the examples of Zune, Windows Phone, Surface, and Bing. These are all things that (AFAIK) Microsoft developed in-house.

    The cases where Microsoft “put people out of business” — and also this particular case — are Microsoft acquisitions. Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype was the final nail in the coffin for other VOIP providers, and likewise for Yammer in enterprise social media.

    A large company acquiring a hot new startup is not a threat to other startups because anyone thinks that the large company can maintain the levels of innovation and speed and service that the small company did. It’s a threat because the big company put their weight behind it and make it a “standard” in the same way that Microsoft Office is. How many Visio competitors can you name?

    You say “the days of Microsoft putting companies out of business ended when the Windows monopoly ended”, but I think you have cause and effect backwards. Microsoft’s dominance is waning *because* they haven’t made many strong acquisitions recently. They’ve had a couple weak years, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean a strong move isn’t a strong move.

    • Menachem Began

      Visio? Seriously? {Rolls-eyes}

    • Girish Mathrubootham

      Good points @watson. An important point to consider is – Parature isn’t necessarily a hot new startup. And this looks more like a feature acquisition.

      • Sajin

        @girishmathrubootham:disqus Am not fully understanding how this went into an anti-MS talk. You are able to do great and an analyst overlooked your strengths; well, that translates to “stupid analyst” to me, not “evil Microsoft”. Am really glad that a focused venture is doing better than a do-it-all giant, but I wouldn’t make it sound like it’s not an analyst but MS itself that predicted your closure.

        • Heather Vaartjes

          It probably went that way naturally. I’m a MS user of over 20 years. I can’t remember a workday where I did NOT think “evil Microsoft”, whether it was their non-intuitive interface or bug-ridden releases. Actually, now that I think about it, there was that one workday when my machine crashed and I had to use pen and paper, which was absolutely no fault of MS.

  • Apurv Agrawal

    “Parachute to the Future” Love it!

  • Kiran Kumar

    Wow!!

  • ritesh singhania

    Whatay read. ‘ Bring it on’

  • Adarsh Vijayakumar

    Or we could just say elephants can’t dance, Girish.

  • Vijay Hole

    What an attitude !!! I like ……..

  • Kiran Nandavarapu

    bang on Girish.. very true about the huge market opportunity and customer requirements are changing and not are looking for suites which often doesn’t address customer needs..Way to go and feeling proud about Indian start-up story…

  • http://www.EGAFutura.com Juan Manuel Garrido

    Kickass post!

  • http://praetorlabs.com/ Nicholas Perry ~ ‘Ultim’Ape

    Microsoft is just going to end up competing with itself. In the process of convincing their pre-existing user base over (using their typical marketing FUD), you may actually get an increase in customers!

    What existing userbase? Well, to put it kindly, I have nightmares of ticketing systems implemented on top of sharepoint.

  • Andy Ashlund

    That’s the best (and most succinct) rebuttal I’ve read in a long , long time.
    Good work Girish…
    andyashlund