Red Gorilla Sets Sail for the New World

Red Gorilla, once a simple host of time tracking and invoicing applications, is making bold strides into uncharted waters as “The Application Syndication Company” with its new private label platform to syndicate applications to commercial websites.

“The value proposition of traditional end-user ASPs is total cost of ownership; replacing the value proposition of shrink-wrapped software,” John Witchel, Red Gorilla founder and CEO, told ASP News. “There’s another group here who needs help: the commercial websites themselves.”

Witchel enumerates the 2 basic business challenges these commercial websites share: how to continuously deploy fresh applications with limited resources, and how to turn visitors into customers. “Every website can claim thousands, if not millions of visitors. Most can only claim a handful of customers,” Witchel said. And with Wall Street and VC investors demanding to know where the profits will come from, Witchel and Red Gorilla are poised to provide an answer: application syndication.

Red Gorilla recently announced a partnership with Opendesk Corp. in which it will act as the premier syndicator of a customized version of Opendesk’s web-based intranet platform. Red Gorilla will bundle its existing applications with the Opendesk platform and deliver the private label product, code-named “C3i” (communities, clubs, collaboration and intranets), to its distribution partners. This suite of applications will enable Red Gorilla’s extensive network of destination sites to quickly and easily bring a comprehensive set of highly sticky, practical and universally accessible collaboration applications to their users.

Red Gorilla’s private label services make up the middle tier of a 3-tier distribution model. “On the back end are the core technology providers, such as, with awesome functionality and limited distribution capabilities,” Witchel said. A syndicator such as Red Gorilla then takes the core technology, incorporates it with other services and distributes it. The third tier is made up of the front-line brands, whose brand itself lends an inherent value.

Those Were the Days…

The idea itself is not new, Witchel argues. “It’s the de facto way of doing business in every other media. Open up any newspaper and 90 percent of the editorial is syndicated content,” Witchel said. He points out that radio has several nationally syndicated talk shows, and gone are the days when a TV network filmed every show with network staff in the network’s studio, with network actors, to be seen on that network. “Only the essence of the brand is kept in-house.”

Witchel believes the Internet will follow in the footsteps of its older media siblings. “Where will the Internet be in 2 years? Where every other media before it ended up: with 90 percent of its content syndicated and only 10 percent done in-house,” Witchel said.

Red Gorilla syndicates their award-winning web-based and wireless end-user applications to the Web 500 and other high-traffic sites. Fully accessible via the web, Palm, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) enabled phones and devices; these applications enable end users to store data, conduct business and collaborate with colleagues on Red Gorilla customer websites. By enhancing their properties with high-utility, private-label applications, destination sites turn their user-base into paying customers.

“We could’ve chosen to syndicate chat, but quite frankly, nobody’s going to pay for chat,” Wichtel said. Instead Red Gorilla began by syndicating its suite of proprietary time tracking and invoicing products launched in December 1999, Gorilla Web, Gorilla Biller, Gorilla Go Pack and Gorilla Power Pack. Then C3i communication and collaboration applications were layered in, and by the end of the y

ear, Red Gorilla will introduce applications in the areas of e-commerce, synchronization, CRM and sales force management, he said.

“If we tried this 2 years ago when there was still an ‘If you build it, they will come’ mentality, I think we would’ve failed,” Witchel said. “Sites would have opted to build everything themselves.” But with today’s websites becoming more complex, and with recent dot-com shakeout demanding a business plan that includes profitability, Witchel sees the market as ripe with opportunity for Red Gorilla’s application syndication services.

He paints a picture of the current scenario in this way: If the 500 most-trafficked websites each offer 20 tabs, or sections of content and services, there are 10,000 tabs up for grabs. With Red Gorilla’s early lead, “We’re in a position to pick up 700 to 1,000 of those tabs — 10 percent of the market. By the end of 2001, 15 to 20 percent will be owned by Red Gorilla,” Witchel prophesizes. And how does Witchel see the endgame playing out? “Of those 20 tabs, 10 to 12 are syndicated applications from Red Gorilla,” Witchel said.

Witchel feels confident that Red Gorilla is at the forefront of the next wave of the Internet. “The wind is to our backs. It’s a trend, and we’ve identified it early on,” he said. “I’m not sure I could row to the New World, but I could definitely sail.”

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