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1/31/2008
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Startup Of The Week: Central Desktop Combines Project Management And SaaS

Users can collaborate on projects and share documents and files from a Web browser.

With Microsoft, IBM, and Google stomping around the collaboration market, a startup has to be as nimble as Jackie Chan to compete. Central Desktop, which offers a suite of collaboration tools delivered via software as a service, moves quickly enough to snare market share among small and medium-sized companies.
--Andrew Conry-Murray

CENTRAL DESKTOP

HEADQUARTERS: Pasadena, Calif.

PRODUCT: Central Desktop collaboration software

PRINCIPALS: Isaac Garcia, CEO; Arnulf Hsu, CTO

INVESTORS: Bootstrapped by Garcia and Hsu

FOUNDED: 2005

EARLY CUSTOMERS: Webcor Builders, AlliedBarton

Isaac Garcia, CEO; Arnulf Hsu, CTO

CEO Garcia collaborates for fun and profit


WHY WILL YOU BE HERE A YEAR FROM NOW?
"Our sweet spot is the SMB. We believe it's underserved," says CEO Garcia. While other vendors chase Fortune 2000 companies, Central Desktop aims for profitability by appealing to a large population of small and medium-sized enterprises. The company has about 35,000 paying customers. Its free version also helps to grow a customer base.

OPPORTUNITY
Companies are adopting collaboration software to improve productivity and make it easier for employees to share information. Central Desktop creates online project workspaces, so users have a single repository for shared content and mechanisms to control document versions. They also can enforce basic rights, such as who can edit or download information. Garcia says the ROI for customers comes from reducing the time it takes to roll out projects and cutting down on e-mail volumes.

THE COMPETITION
Basecamp offers a similar SaaS-based project management service. Google Docs provides limited Web collaboration. Microsoft SharePoint and IBM Lotus Quickr are the major licensed-software competitors.

BUSINESS MODEL
Central Desktop offers a suite of tools for multiuser project management, including collaborative docs and spreadsheets, group discussion threads, e-mail notifications, and shared calendaring. Because it's delivered as a service, the capital costs are low, deployment is a snap, and it's easy to scale--three key concerns for the company's target market. As with other SaaS applications, users access the product via a Web browser, and Central Desktop provides the hosting, storage, and other infrastructure.

TIMELINE
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Read InformationWeek's Startup City blog

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