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BEA Co-Founder Wants to Make Biz Apps Social

It’s Chuang’s premise that enterprise apps need to be socialized

BEA co-founder Alfred Chuang, who was running the joint when Oracle swooped in and bought it three years ago for $8.5 billion, has raised a $12.6 million A round led by Andreessen Horowitz for a new start-up called Magnet Systems.

Magnet's got a cloud-ified development platform called WIN, short for Workplace Interaction Network, that's supposed to be used to build and deploy so-called enterprise social applications that work on Amazon and let business people connect and collaborate the way the hoi polloi does on Facebook and Twitter, automatically linking up existing social networking connections.

It's Chuang's premise that enterprise apps need to be socialized.

"It's almost impossible to believe," he writes in a blog, "but after hundreds of millions of people worldwide have embraced social applications in nearly every aspect of their personal lives, businesses are still resisting social applications. In fact, many enterprises have not made any significant investment in social applications despite obvious use cases for customer service, HR, marketing, product development, recruiting, sales, training and much more.

"Whether companies like it or not, their people are working and communicating through blogs, online communities, personal relationships, pictures, referrals, videos, websites and countless other vehicles. Unfortunately, traditional enterprise applications aren't designed to capture, organize and prioritize the knowledge and connections that reside in these unstructured assets."

Magnet's supposed to fix all that.

The start-up's got a first app that people can try out for free called Sales WIN. It's described as "Social CRM" and integrates with Microsoft Outlook and Salesforce.com.

The idea behind it is to get sales people closer to customers, let them interact with them more frequently, and understand each customer's needs, Chuang said.

"This customer-centricity fosters trusted relationships and a more receptive selling environment. And staying connected to customers allows sales people to better prioritize deals, resulting in accelerated sales cycles and a more efficient use of their time. Fostering a close connection with the customer allows the sales rep, the sales manager and hence the company to predict more accurately sales forecasts as well as dramatically enhance sales productivity."

Apparently Magnet means to sell the WIN widgetry to companies for their own apps, give it away to developers and create a marketplace for apps. First, however, the 17-man start-up needs to hire more people.

See http://magnet.com/index.php/series-a-funding/.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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