Huddle of Bermondsey, London, has announced a partnership with InterCall headquartered in Chicago, the world’s largest conferencing and collaboration services provider, aiming to “deliver the world’s first unified collaboration, communication and social networking platform for the enterprise“.
The deal means that InterCall conferencing customers can schedule phone and web meetings in Huddle (and its applications within LinkedIn and Facebook) and share dial-in details, documents and meeting minutes. They can also use Huddle’s range of project management & collaboration tools, such as discussions, whiteboards, tasks, document versioning, and audit.
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By the same token, Huddle customers will be introduced to InterCall’s services, with events like teleconferences and web meetings created, scheduled and managed from within the Huddle environment.
I spoke to Andy McLoughlin, Product Director and co-Founder of Huddle, pictured below right with CEO and co-founder Alastair Mitchell (on left), on the eve of today’s announcement in London, and put a few questions to him.
Q: Andy, this is some deal. How long have you been cooking this?
A: We were approached last year, the better part of 7 or 8 months ago. We are a small company and can move fast, so we were working at the pace to integrate with a large company that can marshall over 1,000 sales people on their phone lines globally. They serve around a million different businesses, with 30-40,000 new businesses joining them every month, so it’s taken a while to get everything lined up.
Q: You’re going to scale to potentially having 1m new customers hitting your servers tomorrow. How have you prepared for this?
A: We have been doing a lot of work in preparation for scaling since doing a deal with LinkedIn last summer. We were the only non-US company to launch on the new LinkedIn platform, and were sitting alongside global players such as Amazon and Google, so we have been careful to make sure we can scale well. We will be taking a phased approach in our partnership with InterCall, and they will be gradually introducing us to their hundreds of thousands of customers. It’s really exciting.
Q: I love the phrase in your release ‘Unified collaboration, communication and social networking platform for the enterprise’. What other social media hook-ins do you plan – you are already in LinkedIn and Facebook – is the future perhaps in widgets?
We have a number of partnerships we are working on that we will roll out in due course – I can’t mention any specific names at the moment. We are also working with Open Social Foundation, we’ve found that idea of adding Huddle.net functionality with a few clicks to any platform is a powerful one that we’ll be seeking to enable. Open Social, in the way that it works on different platforms is not perfect yet, but we’re confident about having some innovative, portable and effective tolls for customers as their needs and different platforms evolve.
Q: Intercall customers get a free account on Huddle – what do Huddle customers get?
A: The InterCall suite of solutions is very broad – we are working on several things immediately – for example accessing great rates for conference calls, and providing easy access to web conferencing. Huddle can in effect be the front end for schedule teleconferences and web conferences in a low cost, scalable way.
Q: I have been using Huddle for a month or so, and I really do like it. I think the new meetings facility and beta’s look and feel are great. I particularly find the RSS feeds useful to keep on top of developments on a project without that tyranny of the inbox, and through just using a browser from anywhere I happen to be. What do you think will be the next areas your customers ask you to focus on?
A: We’re already getting great feedback from our customers as we use Uservoice to manage that important process. Feedback we have had through this has been superb – and people have happy to interact quickly, even commenting on what could be a tiny thing, but they are noting it and letting us know about big and small issues. It’s really valuable to have feedback we might not normally have if we had asked them to mail us or log something in a more traditional forum.
We will have a few more announcements to make in the next few months, as new features and new partnerships are finalised and released to customers, in beta trials, and in other platforms. We also expect to have a lot more interest in our API now that we’ve made this announcement of our partnership with InterCall.
We also have a view to integrating further with social networking tools – and of course, our API is available to let developers integrate their applications and build new services on top of the platform, so we’re very excited about the future in that respect. The API is at http://beta.huddle.net/api
A couple of quotes from the official new release are below:-
“Through this partnership with Huddle, our customers around the world will benefit from an experience that takes collaboration to the next level,” said Scott Etzler, InterCall’s president. “Many of our customers are already familiar with Huddle from LinkedIn and Facebook, so we’re excited to extend that experience to conferencing so they can be even more productive.”
“Huddle offered by InterCall is a true differentiator in a marketplace for both companies and realises our vision of end-to-end collaboration and social networking for business, in one place. Our partnership means that the users across the globe can now take advantage of Huddle and work together better, online or during live conferencing, regardless of their size or budget,” said Alastair Mitchell, co-founder and CEO, Huddle.net.
Andy was certainly delighted and very excited about this partnership, and it is nice to be able to write a positive news story about the hard-won success of a small European startup. Thanks to Zuzanna Pasierbinska at Huddle for lining up the interview.