Our hiring philosophy at FamilyLink.com has been to recruit the best talent we can find, regardless of location. So we have engineers, designers, and marketers scattered in several states and in two countries as well. As we have grown from a dozen to more than 60 employees and contractors, the challenge of communicating and collaborating becomes very significant.
Our social development team has been holding the equivalent of daily standup meetings for 15 to 30 min each day. We’ve been using some voice-only conference calling systems, but as of today, we’ve officially decided to dump voice-only and implement by tomorrow morning a new web-based collaboration system.
We aren’t going to take weeks to decide which system to use. We’re going to take a few hours. After all, the real-time web makes it possible to harness the wisdom of the crowds very quickly. I will use this blog post, LinkedIn Answers, and twitter to gather the information we need to make a good decision today. It may not be the best decision that is possible–but it will be a good one. And tomorrow’s social developer meeting will be far more effective than today’s.
I know that WebEx and Gotomeeting are traditional and well-known options for virtual meetings (both are in the top 5,000 of Quantcast), but I wanted to find some other options that might be easier to use, less expensive, and perhaps more innovative. Some quick Google and Twitter searches brought up several options that look more appealing than WebEx or Gotomeeting. The top five candidates so far are: Yugma, DimDim, YuuGuu, Adobe Connect, and Zoho Meeting.
- Yugma search on Twitter
- DimDim search on Twitter
- YuuGuu search on Twitter
- Zoho Meeting search on Twitter
- Adobe Connect search on Twitter
We have a small internal team that is hoping to try all 5 services today, and evaluate them for ease-of-use and functionality. By this afternoon, we hope to make a decision. And by tomorrow morning’s meeting, we hope to have about 15 remote workers using the new system.
One of the filters I use when checking out new technologies, before making a decision whether to bet on them or not, is how well funded the company behind the service is. Typing in “company name” and “funding” or “venture” into Google usually helps me find what I need.
Quick Google searches showed the following:
- Venture Beat, Dec. 07: “Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Yugma has about $2.5 million in angel funding.”
- DimDim raised $6 million in July ’08 in a Series B round. It is Boston-based and open source.
- YuuGuu has received some startup funding from Rising Stars and Liverpool Seed Fund
- Zoho is reportedly a 600-person company that is profitable and generates $40 million per year
I like to check Quantcast charts for companies too, to see if they seem to have marketplace momentum.
Then I also like to see if the company has been hit with layoffs recently, so I search for “company name” and “layoffs” in Google. I didn’t find any evidence that any of these companies has had layoffs lately, but several discussions about how the software from these companies can help other companies save money and even avoid layoffs by having more effective remote meetings, and boosting productivity.
Here are a few more interesting links:
- 7 Web-based Collaboration Apps (Information Week, July 2009)
- Top 12 Web Conferencing Vendors (Inside CRM, Dec. 2008)
- review of Yugma from January 2007 (from Center Networks)
If you have love any of the top 5 web-collaboration candidates that I mentioned, or if you use a different one that you think is perfect for a virtual team meeting every day, please share your comments on this blog.