Cinderella, David vs. Goliath, Miracle on Ice. Who doesn’t love a great underdog story? Everyone loves to hear about the time the small guy took on the top dog and came out ahead. Which is why I love great business stories about how innovative, brave start-ups had the courage to stand up, go against the status quo, and upset the big incumbent in the end.
Well, there’s a great one out there that maybe you don’t know. The story of Siebel Systems and Salesforce. In the late 1990s, Oracle-exec Tom Siebel founded his own firm – Siebel Systems – which would go on to become the fastest-growing tech firm in the US. By the year 2000, it was definitely the top dog. It had 45% market share for its full stack, on-premise CRM package, which was installed at some of the world’s largest companies. Its stock had risen from an IPO price of $2 USD in 1996 to an incredible $120 USD by November 2000.
But then this little tiny challenger called Salesforce came along. Back in 2000, Marc Benioff had a great idea – there should be just one CRM. Companies didn’t need their own CRM, installed on premise. His idea was to build the world’s first webscale enterprise application in CRM, with NO software to install.
Marc’s idea was that customers would pay just to use it, accessing the software through the internet. And NOTHING would be installed on premise. The one catch was that customers would have to give up control of the application stack and let Salesforce manage their valuable customer data for them. Back in 2000, this was a radical new idea. At the time, everyone else was still shipping DVD-ROMs of software (remember those days?!?) and buying servers on which to install them. Salesforce would have none of that. Instead, customers would access it via a website, set it up and start using it easily, and receive value immediately. Even better: it would be cheap as hell. People didn’t know it at the time, but Salesforce was about to invent SaaS software.
Even though the public cloud hyperscalers hadn’t been invented yet, the idea of running enterprise software on someone else’s computers, where you didn’t control every element of the stack, was an insane idea. So you can imagine the objections everyone had: it wasn’t secure enough, concerns about data privacy, what would happen to their customizations and integrations to other systems, and what if the internet went down and they couldn’t access their data?
As I was researching the Siebel vs. Salesforce story, I literally LAUGHED OUT LOUD because the list of objections is the same list I get from telco execs on why they can’t use the public cloud. It may be 21 years later, but the objections to the public cloud are the same.
But a new underdog is in town, and it’s coming to the telco industry. I know a startup that has the best product for telco I’ve ever seen, and I know a thing or two about its area. This team is in stealth mode and is not ready to be launched just yet, but I begged them to let me give you just a little taste of what it’s working on because I think it’s the most exciting thing going. What I love is that it’s everything I’ve been banging my drum about for the last several years, and I’m excited to share a couple of small details.
The startup is called Totogi and it is building a webscale public cloud charging engine that can handle 100% of the world’s charging volume on one platform. It will be built just like Salesforce: fully SaaS with nothing to install. Instead of talking to you about infrastructure, datacenters, servers, databases supported, Red Hat, Kubernetes, BLAH BLAH BLAH … Totogi’s main focus is on three huge business value drivers:
- Automatic plan design: The system is not just a regular old boring charger that implements tariffs and rates usage. Instead, the Totogi team has invested in ML and AI to build a system that understands your business goals, knows your tariffs, plans, subscribers, and network data, and can scan competitors’ plans in your marketplace to automatically recommend and implement optimized tariff designs. It promises it can reduce churn by up to 20%, attract up to 25% more subscribers from competitors, and boost ARPU growth by up to 15%. Um, yes please.
- A super app: Today, telcos’ mobile apps are pre-installed on just about every home screen of every mobile phone in the world, but instead of being super awesome, they are super sucky. (When was the last time you logged in to your telco’s app? My point EXACTLY.) The Totogi team has designed a whole new approach to the telco mobile app – by building a Super App. The Super App is a mobile app framework where you, the carrier, will select the biz dev deals you want to offer to your subscribers, which Totogi has pre-negotiated for you, and configure the mobile app of your dreams. The catch: the additional revenue you get from your rev share deals will be more than your monthly revenue subscriber. This is an absolutely brilliant idea.
- The cheapest charger on the planet: Just like Salesforce was to Siebel, this system will be way cheaper. Why? Because you don’t have all that infrastructure to deal with – it’s all built in and provided as a service. Totogi believes it will be 80% cheaper compared to the TCO of your #fakecloud, on-premise solutions. Welcome to the world of SaaS!
I can’t wait to hear more about Totogi in a few months’ time. It will debut its products at MWC and it is already scheduling private viewing opportunities for interested customers.
In the meantime, you can hear a little more about why I think Totogi is destined for success during my KILLER talk at TelecomTV’s annual DSP Leaders World Forum, taking place March 8 – 12. You can register here; can’t wait to hear your thoughts about it. Send me a message on Twitter or LinkedIn!
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