One year on from the merger between Ephox and TinyMCE it’s easy to forget the two companies already shared a five-year partnership delivering the most popular open source rich text editor to many of the world’s biggest enterprises.
Jeff Olson, Ephox’s SVP Sales, Marketing & Business Development, sat down with Katrina Manning to discuss the business future of TinyMCE.
Katrina Manning: It has been a year since the merger between Ephox and TinyMCE. How is the experience so far?
Jeff Olson: Ephox has been a leader in the rich-text editor space for over a decade. The merger has been a phenomenal success that has allowed us to invest substantially more money and resources into TinyMCE’s development and our user base of over 10 million developers and businesses, across 70 million websites. Our expanded product portfolio not only vastly increased our presence in this space but additionally helped us set a strong foothold in the open source community.
KM: What has the merger meant for customers wanting to buy TinyMCE (Enterprise)?
Jeff Olson: We have invested millions of dollars into the long-term development of our rich text editor products and can now add TinyMCE to that plan. Existing TinyMCE customers and users of TinyMCE Community Edition will benefit greatly from this investment while playing a key role in defining our future roadmap.
KM: What initiative or programs have made it easier to buy the right TinyMCE solution?
Jeff Olson: Great question. My focus over the past six months has been on creating a variety of TinyMCE solutions that match our customer’s different budgets and requirements. We understand that the text editor is a critical piece of the overall user experience, and want everyone to be able to benefit from what we’ve built.
KM: What types of questions do you most often hear from prospects and customers?
Jeff Olson: When we talk to the overall user community, many users express an interest in simplifying deployment. Also, they’re interested in eliminating restrictions to the consumption of TinyMCE. We’ve met this need with a cloud option providing quick access to all of our features. It’s really about the next level of simplicity with our audience today. We will have more to share about TinyMCE Cloud in the coming weeks.
KM: How has the merger impacted your sales team?
Jeff Olson: Well, the immediate impact was exponential growth in the number of customers given the vastness of TinyMCE’s user base. The increase in offerings specifically tailored to suit user needs has drawn a considerable growth in interest, and correspondingly to our obligation to educate new prospects. Most importantly, our sales team is extremely busy making sure we match our customers with the right offerings.
KM: Speaking of your offerings around TinyMCE, can you expand upon that?
Jeff Olson: We have several standalone products beyond the capacity to license. For example, our PowerPaste solution allows users to copy content from Microsoft Word into TinyMCE as WYSIWYG. Then there is our Spell Checker solution, which is available in 14 different languages to meet the needs of our international community. Another exciting offering is the Accessibility Checker, which allows content creators to check their work for accessibility compliance as they write it. It makes sure a screen reader will be able to read the content accurately, and offers assistance to the writer when she isn’t sure whether her material is compliant.
KM: You brought on a new pre-sales engineer. Do your customers find this valuable, and how does it help them find the right solution?
Jeff Olson: Yes, we brought on a Solutions Architect who works very closely with our customers in the proof of concept phase. His role is about helping users integrate their new solutions and providing on the ground service of the highest level during the last and most important phase of the sales process. Our objective is to understand what our customers want—whether they are developers or IT professionals—and to make sure we’re helping them design our product into something really valuable for their end users.
KM: From a sales perspective, what are your thoughts the open-source community? How do they benefit from new initiatives that are mostly commercial in nature? To illustrate, how does an “a la carte” Basic Plan benefit them?
Jeff Olson: I’ve worked at several open source companies as a sales leader. I try to take as much of a community perspective as I can. I want to make sure we continue to support all users, both open source, and enterprise, as it is critical to the future growth of the product and the company. We pride ourselves on the hard look we take at which features we consider premium without compromising our commitment to our open source user base. It’s a constant effort and finding the right balance is a challenge.
We think this serves both communities [enterprise and open source] by creating an option for testing the open source version to our enterprise consumer, and the option of simplified expansion for our open source user. We’re also working out a limited test of some premium offerings right now; it’s been going well so far.
KM: What types of prospects and customers have been interested in the premium features?
Jeff Olson: Anyone can benefit from our premium features whether they be one to two people with their blog or social media companies, government agencies, financial institutions, software vendors and beyond. SMBs are consuming a lot of premium features with about five content creators/editors requiring advanced features. Usage runs the gamut from Fortune 500 companies to one-man shops, but we see rapid growth in the emerging company segment.
KM: How are you marketing TinyMCE?
Jeff Olson: We’ve tested outreach of all shapes and forms through Facebook and Twitter, by sponsoring developer-focused events and attending different user groups. In fact, we’re going to Vienna, Austria to participate in WordCamp Europe, which is one of WordPress’s major global user groups. TinyMCE is integrated into WordPress, which many users don’t actually realize. It’s a huge portion of users for us, and we’re offering a new set of premium features specifically in appreciation of this relationship.
We are also utilizing digital marketing to help reach our customers, and we experience a vibrant group of users coming to our website to ask questions. Six months ago, we gave out a version of our cloud product in beta that had millions and millions of users. We’re trying to reach all of our users.
KM: What will you be doing at WordCamp?
Jeff Olson: A few things, one we’re attending various sessions as part of an initiative to expand our knowledge of WordPress. Beyond that, we want to listen to the users and learn more about their current editor needs. This is our real focus, which is why we hosted a meet and greet and a great Q&A session with our founders near the show. We genuinely want to sit down in a casual setting and open communication with WordPress users. We have more about this commitment on our website.
KM: Last question, is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Jeff Olson: The combination of power and experience Ephox and TinyMCE have amassed in the past 17 years of rich text editing makes this an exciting time for the company and community. One of the reasons I joined the company six months ago is the obvious potential in what Ephox is trying to accomplish. I was ambitious at the time, but after the launch, the new merger, and first-hand experience with our diverse user base, I couldn’t be more excited for the future.