Home Jive Brings Consumer-Style Coolness to the Enterprise

Jive Brings Consumer-Style Coolness to the Enterprise

Portland, Oregon’s Jive Software is launching version 2.0 of its year-old enterprise collaboration suite called Clearspace tonight and it looks like a lot of fun to use.

The service takes on Microsoft’s Sharepoint with a feature set that looks like something many consumer software users would be envious of. USAToday recently said that “Jive Software wants to be the Apple Computer of corporate social networks.”

The best way to try to describe it may be to say it’s like a combination of Facebook, Google Docs, Netvibes/Pageflakes, Meebo and a little bit of Basecamp – for the enterprise. Jive calls itself a “social productivity” service.

Jive is seven years old, took $15 million from Google and YouTube backers Sequoia Capital last year and is best known in Portland for hiring a whole lot of very smart people. I, and many of my local consumer-software centered friends hadn’t even seen Jive’s Clearspace until demos of the new version. What was being demoed looks great.

The company says it has 2,000 customers, including 15% of the Fortune 500. Flagship customers include Nike, John Deere and Sony. Presumably if you’re in this kind of enterprise market you’ll want to get a demo for yourself, but here’s some highlights of what I saw.


A customizable start page shows you all of your co-workers recent activities, lets you wigitize the activity streams of individual users and lets you see all recent activity from anyone when you hover over their name. Next to each name is a little presence indicator, indicating wether or not they are available for IM conversations. (See end of post for full screenshot, user pop-up is here on the right.)

This is also where you can view all your projects, their status and your to-do list. Status messages can be changed much easier than on Facebook. There are polls, tag clouds and a special place at the top of the page for announcements. This start page is something I want to use far, far more than Basecamp – the admin for which I try to look at as seldom as possible.

Here’s a Jive demo video that highlights the startpage, which I picked up from Dennis Howlett’s good review of Clearspace 2.0.


We wrote about Jive’s vision for XMPP/Jabber, the open source IM protocol, earlier this year. The site has Jabber all over, including in collaborative document creation tools. The ability to see everyone’s presence status throughout the site is great. I didn’t get to look at the IM client so I can’t judge that, but hopefully it’s as good as it should be.

Collaboration Inside and Outside Firewall

In this new version, Clearspace can be integrated with Microsoft’s SharePoint – but it’s always been able to stand alone, too. One interesting feature Clearspace has is that participants can be invited to edit single documents or participate in groups outside the enterprise firewall – then those documents can be brought back inside the firewall later.

There’s a whole lot more that could be said about Jive; the company offers wikis, it just acquired calendaring startup Jotlet, it’s got an active community of developers utilizing the company’s APIs and it’s working on an iPhone interface.


Since starting seven years ago with offerings like forums and knowledge bases, Jive has iterated quickly. Many of its features currently look better than their consumer market counterparts – but in some cases I’d have liked to have seen those features be miles ahead of what’s available for free on the web instead of just notches ahead. Perhaps in future iterations that will be the case. The Jive activity feed is better than Facebook’s, for example, but not as good as FriendFeed. Its widgets have some big advantages over Netvibes/Pageflakes but could learn a thing or two from OriginalSignal or PopURLs.

None the less, those of us who take things like startpages, News Feeds and Jabber seriously outside the enterprise get some solid validation from Jive and its customers. If you’re in the enterprise market, you may find that Jive’s Clearspace makes your work life much more enjoyable and productive.

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