Nimble, a hosted social CRM solution, finally went into public beta today. But it's already received a lot of buzz. Partially because it has a good story. Nimble founder Jon Ferrara also co-founded one of the first CRM companies, GoldMine, back in 1989. GoldMine sold to Ixchange (now known as FrontRange) in 1999 for $83 million. Now this pioneer is back to reinvent CRM.
But it's not just the story that's generating buzz - the product itself is, too. It's working towards something of a holy grail in social software: the universal inbox. Nimble's not just a contact manager, it's a full communication center. It brings email, Facebook and Twitter into one place. And it does so in a surprisingly elegant way.
"CRM tools are more a tool for management to keep their hands around the throat of the sales staff, not to help help sales people manage relationships," Ferrara told us. "Sales people don't use CRM to manage their relationships with customers. They just feed the info into their CRM system at the last minute before it's due so the management can run the reports."
Ferrara wants to change that by creating the most natural and intuitive social CRM platform on the market. So far Nimble's doing a good job. The Facebook and Twitter clients feel quite natural. It really does seem like something you could hand to users without giving them any training. And the Klout integration is a nice touch.
The company is focused entirely on small business. In his CRM Watchlist 2011, Paul Greenberg wrote, "He was very targeted to this market and not really interested in any other one - a real positive in my book."
Ferrara hopes Nimble will build a strong developer community. "We don't want to be the Microsoft Office of CRM, we want to be the WordPress of CRM," he said. "We provide the most basic services and let developers build out everything else." Nimble was built with Python and MongoDB, both of which are popular with developers.