Are internal blogs and wikis really worth a $15 million investment? Says Hersh, "Businesses saw the transformative power of Web 2.0 tools. The idea of open collaboration where people can connect with experts, join groups -- we know it has transformative power."
Transformative power is nice, but what about the bottom line? Hersh agrees it's difficult to gauge the ROI on collaboration tools. He cites soft metrics such as employee surveys that ask about productivity gains, or tallying a drop in e-mails as employees communicate directly on a project. But actual dollar measurements are hard to come by.
But flabby measurements of business value haven't deterred customers. According to Hersh, Clearspace bookings have jumped 100% between its first and second quarters. And Jive has an impressive customer list, including IBM, Sun, and BEA.
Sequoia obviously smells an opportunity. In exchange for its investment, the VC gets a directorship and will own a portion of the company, though Hersh declined to say how much. The money will be used to boost the company's sales and marketing, drive international expansion, expand customer support, and fund research and development.
While collaboration tools are available all over the Internet, Clearspace has enterprise appeal because it integrates widely-used features into a package that offers IT some measure of control over the system and the content.
For instance, content created in Clearspace can be archived in enterprise storage systems. A permissions framework also provides some measure of access control for groups working on sensitive information.
Jive Software also offers Clearspace X, which lets companies create interactive communities for business partners and customers.