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The CN Interview with Klaus Schauser of Citrix

3 February, 2005

Dr. Klaus Schauser is the founder and Chief Technology Officer of Citrix Online. As a professor of computer science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Dr. Schauser is a widely published research scientist with deep experience developing scalable, highly parallel computing environments. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and has received numerous academic awards. Conferencing News sat down with Dr. Schauser and asked a few questions.

Conferencing News: When did Citrix Online decide to get into the online meeting business with GoToMeeting, and how does it fit with its overall corporate strategy?

Klaus Schauser: Our mission at Citrix Online is to enable individuals and companies to securely and easily collaborate with their customers and colleagues. We launched our company with a screen-sharing technology that connects computers over the Internet, allowing people to easily collaborate and share documents from remote locations. Our first product was our remote technical support solution GoToAssist (formerly DesktopStreaming), followed by our remote access solution GoToMyPC. Both products quickly became the leaders in their respective categories. Our screen-sharing technology provides a natural fit for online meetings and web conferencing. With strong growth projected for online meetings, we knew we had a lucrative business opportunity that is consistent with our overall company strategy.

CN: How does GoToMeeting compete functionally with the major web conferencing providers? What are the features which, in your view, provide competitive advantage?

KS: We unleashed GoToMeeting as a disruptive technology, built on our "Simpler is Better" platform. Market research indicated that 90% of online meetings are for application sharing from a desktop, and that the main barriers to more frequent use were due to complexity, cost and integration concerns. We built a model to address this. By making it extremely easy to use, affordable and secure, we 've opened up a whole new way for individuals to communicate.

The features our customers like most are the flat-fee pricing, the 'easy-as-e-mail ' simplicity, the high performance and reliability, and the iron-clad, built-in security. With our pricing model, subscribers get the advantage of meeting as often and for as long as they want, without the worry of overage charges. Our simplicity is unsurpassed. E-mail doesn 't come with an instruction manual and neither does GoToMeeting. Everything you need to get the job done is right there on the screen. Our small, fast downloads and easy interface let you focus on the meeting and not the set-up. As for security, end-to-end encryption ensures that every online session is fully protected from eavesdropping. And unlike most other online meeting services, our security is built-in and cannot be turned off. Together, these features make GoToMeeting an attractive proposition.

CN: Expound on the "Simpler is Better" philosophy touted by Citrix Online. What are some concrete examples of features or user-design in which the "simpler is better" credo is manifested?

KS: Our philosophy is to develop sophisticated screen-sharing solutions with an extremely easy interface that will enable people to be as productive as possible. We took the computing world by storm when we introduced GoToMyPC, which gave mobile workers the ability to access their office or home computer from any other PC – and work as if they were at their own desktop PC. Here was a new application for technology that was also easy to use, extremely secure and very affordable. GoToMyPC continues to be the market leader. Everywhere I go, people still tell me how much they love it. That 's the power of our "Simpler is Better" philosophy.

With GoToMeeting, we 've stripped the non-essential bells and whistles, focusing only on the features used most frequently for online meetings. This makes it extremely fast and reliable. And it builds customer confidence because they can master the service quickly and use it more frequently for impromptu meetings, contributing greatly to their efficiency and productivity.

CN: Do subscribers have to download anything with GoToMeeting?

KS: Sticking with our "Simpler is Better" approach, the set-up is really very simple. Invited attendees don 't even need to be GoToMeeting subscribers to participate fully in a meeting. All that the invited individual has to do is click on the link in the invitation from the subscriber. The software is automatically downloaded, and they 're in the meeting.

CN: Are there live customer-service operators who can assist new users of GoToMeeting?

KS: With our simple interface, there is no need for training or IT assistance. I compare the process to pressing a button on a telephone. It 's that simple. However, Citrix Online has customer service technicians available should someone need assistance with any of our products.

CN: How is the audio-conferencing component of the web-conference handled?

KS: GoToMeeting has a built-in audio bridge. The meeting organizer simply gives the invited attendees a call-in phone number that allows everyone in on the conversation. Subscribers also have the option to use their own teleconferencing service or phone line instead of the one we provide.

CN: How is the GoToMeeting service priced?

KS: We offer two versions of the product which are licensed per organizer. Citrix GoToMeeting is for individuals and small businesses that require a single-user account and up to 10 attendees per meeting. Citrix GoToMeeting Corporate is available as a company-wide solution for businesses that require a minimum of five user-accounts with 25 attendees per meeting, and optional event-license upgrades for up to 200 attendees per meeting. Customers can subscribe on a monthly basis, or pay annually and save 20 percent. For the single-user version, the cost is $49 per month, or $468 when paid annually.

CN: What's unique in the underlying technology of GoToMeeting?

KS: Our simple interface and procedures make starting and joining a meeting easier than any competitive offering. We are the only service with true built-in end-to-end encryption, resulting in the highest level of security. And our patented bandwidth adaptive compression technology means that performance during meetings is exceptional.

CN: Tell us about your growth in customer subscribers.

KS: We 've had terrific growth since our launch last summer. In fact, GoToMeeting is the fastest growing product in our portfolio of services. More than 50% of our new customers are defectors from the market leader due to our value proposition.

CN: What new features will you be incorporating into the service in 2005?

KS: We 'll continue to listen to our customers and add and refine features that are consistent with our simple, easy-to-use platform. Our goal is to make their meetings as efficient as possible.

CN: What's in your crystal ball in the world of online meetings? Do you agree with us that the business travel industry - particularly the airlines - is doomed with the advances of ever-better remote meeting technologies like GoToMeeting?

KS: There is no question that online meetings are on a strong growth curve. IDC 's estimates for online collaboration are approximately 25% compound annual growth over the next five years. A significant part of that growth comes from the need companies have for instant collaboration, anytime, anywhere to be competitive. Think about it, sales teams no longer need to travel to put on product demonstrations, attorneys can easily collaborate on legal documents without being there with their clients. Travel is expensive and becoming more difficult. Sometimes face-to-face meetings are necessary. But with the ongoing threat of terrorism, and the cost and hassles of airline travel, we 're confident that remote meeting technologies will have an impact on the business travel industry.

CN: Thanks, Klaus. Good luck with Citrix and GoToMeeting.


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