Spiceworld 2014's keynote address had all the excitement and intrigue of a new Apple product announcement. I was there and it very applesque. Scott Abel, CEO and co-founder, gave us a pre-announcement appetizer of Spiceworks' history and Spiceworld's humble beginnings. When he got to the App Center announcement, I watched the reactions of the attendees—everyone looked at each other and mouthed the word "Wow" to each other. Once the original wave of excitement and the thought of all the possibilities subsided in my head, I tweeted about it. The App Center will also include free apps, an SDK, and other developer tools and information.
In fact, I referred to Scott Abel as IT's Oprah. Everyone hung on his every word. It was Jobs-like and it was Oprah-like. And what's so refreshing about Scott is that he's a totally unassuming and genuinely humble guy who doesn't realize just how big and how dedicated his audience is. I think that's a good thing. It's a dangerous thing to believe your own press. <winks>
The Spiceworks App Center isn't a money racket, although Spiceworks expects to make some money from it; it's more of an extension of existing services—an add-on of sorts. It's not going to generate enough money (probably) to argue motivations, but it will allow developers to extend, expand, and monetize Spiceworks, the product, for themselves. A 70/30 split is generous considering the alternatives.
Of course, developers can make their apps available for free, but what's the fun of that when you have 6 million worldwide users who might be willing to toss 99 cents your way for an awesome app. Certainly if I had any programming skills and some ideas for extensions, I'd be listed right in there with all the rest—for 99 cents or better. There's nothing wrong with making a buck, especially if you provide a user community with a great extension.
On a side note, I'm always excited to talk to the people at Spiceworks. It's like watching a story unfold where you know the ending and it ends triumphantly. Every time I speak to a Spiceworks employee or to an executive, I get supercharged myself. They're the most energetic and enthusiastic bunch of people that I've ever seen. The whole thing is like I imagine Apple would have been in those early days when Steve Jobs was trying to excite people about his vision.
It was enlightening to watch Scott Abel's eyes light up when I told him that he's like the new Steve Jobs. He has 6 million dedicated, loyal users looking to him, hanging on his every phrase. I think if Scott were more narcissistic, he would enjoy it more. But that's not him. That's the one characteristic that separates people like Scott from his peers: humility. The fact that he and his staff believe in the community and believe that it's really about the community is what makes Spiceworks, the company, and Spiceworks, the software suite, so compelling.
The Spiceworks App Center shows me and everyone else that Spiceworks is a true global community—a collective of collaborators who work together to create something great.
And it's remarkable to see that even one voice can be heard above the din. During the Keynote address, Scott pointed to one particular user who posted comments about some improvements and enhancements that were important to him. Spiceworks made them happen. They listened.
Do you think that any of you have the power to make Satya Nadella, Mark Hurd, Mark Templeton, Tim Cook, or any other major technology company CEO listen to you simply by posting to a forum? I'd have to say "No" to that question. But Spiceworks listened to Simon, who called them out on a few things and asked for some much neglected improvements.
That's the difference between community and commerce. Sure Spiceworks wants to make money, but they also know that they hold the bread and you, the community members, have the butter. For them, it's a partnership. To many companies, you are just a customer. They don't want to hear your voices, they just want your Benjamins.
From Scott Abel on down to the newest Spiceworks newbie, Spiceworks is a community. You have a voice and they want to hear it.
The Spiceworks App Center is a big hit because it's what you wanted. You spoke. They listened. What more could you ask for? A better mousetrap? Check.