Wikinomics Author Don Tapscott Joins Startup SaaS Company

Tapscott will oversee the consulting wing of nGenera, a Software as a Service (SaaS) vendor aimed at providing companies with enterprise Web 2.0 tools.

Wikinomics author Don Tapscott will chair the consulting wing of a start-up software as a service (SaaS) company that he says offers a platform for Web 2.0 tools to help companies redesign their business model to encourage horizontal collaboration.


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The company, nGenera (short for "next generation"), was founded in Austin last year as BSG Alliance. The company acquired New Paradigm, Tapscott's Toronto-based consulting firm, in November 2007.

The company name no doubt has significance to Tapscott, who wrote a book about what he calls the "net generation"— now known more widely as Generation Y — back in 1997.

Based on his research, Tapscott says current enterprise tools will fail these younger workers as more of them find jobs in the workforce.

Growing up with social networks, blogs, wikis and instant messaging, "the net gen" expect all these tools to be waiting for them at work, Tapscott says. "They have been using better tools than what exist in corporate America," he adds. "This is a generation that looks at e-mail and says it something that's good for writing a thank you note."

Investors are bullish on the new company despite signs that the software industry, especially around Web 2.0, might be starting to thin out amidst a consolidating market. nGenera initially took a round of $20 million in May 2007, and an additional $50 million from a group led by Oak Investmant Partners last month.

The vendor, which already has around 300 employees, claims several major clients, including FedEx, DaimlerChrysler, Merck & Co., Merrill Lynch and Sprint.

It will offer a broad platform for companies to access on-demand, hosted applications that will place nGenera into a collaboration technology market with a slew of start-ups and traditional players such as IBM and Microsoft.

According to recent research by Forrester, Big Blue has been aggressively pushing Lotus Connections — its enterprise-friendly set of Web 2.0 tools. Microsoft's SharePoint offers similar applications as well.

Papermaster and Tapscott say they want people to use the nGenera platform to collaborate internally, and with customers, partners, and even competitors.

For now, nGenera CEO Steve Papermaster says the nGenera platform will focus on providing collaborative technologies around three areas of the organization: managing and attracting young talent, allowing companies to interact with customers using collaborative Web 2.0 tools, and leadership around collaboration.

"Technology is becoming more people focused," he says. "We're providing a platform that makes [a company's] relationship with customers interactional."

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