It's an anniversary month! 15 years ago, I quit my product marketing job at a major Silicon Valley tech company and started Webinar Success. In the past 15 years, I've seen a lot of changes in the web conferencing space. I thought I'd have a little fun and take a run down memory lane.
In August 2004, nobody had heard of YouTube, the Apple iPhone, Blu Ray discs, or Google Maps. "TheFacebook" had launched earlier that year as a locally-available service connecting students at Harvard. Barack Obama was not yet a US Senator.
I spent a lot of time explaining just what the heck a webinar was and why it had business value. Lexical purists frequently wrote angry comments on my blog posts, decrying the improper root structure of the coined term and pointing to it as a sign of the impending collapse of civilization.
The two most commonly used web conferencing products were Placeware and WebEx. Both were independent companies. The number three position was hard to determine… Maybe Raindance? Raindance would later be bought by West Corporation, then folded into InterCall. The name would disappear. Placeware would later be bought by Microsoft and relabeled as Live Meeting before disappearing. WebEx would later be bought by Cisco and relabeled as Webex. ON24 was in the middle of figuring out whether it wanted to be a news and vertically-oriented media publisher or a webcast software vendor.
GoToWebinar would be introduced in 2006 and would take the shocking route of publishing standard pricing right on its website. Pricing was low enough to be considered "disruptive" in the industry. The product would later be acquired by LogMeIn.
All of these products required participants to download and install software on their personal computers. Mobile access was not a consideration, as mobile computing didn't exist.
Macromedia was just starting to experiment with a bold new idea… Using its Flash multimedia player to deliver realtime communications entirely within the web browser. It created Breeze Live (renamed to Breeze Meeting, and then supplemented with Breeze Events and Breeze Presenter). The company would be bought by Adobe and the Flash-based, web-hosted webinar product would get a new name as Adobe Connect.
My early years involved a lot of guest speaking for the various webinar vendors, covering topics such as how to plan and organize effective business webinars, how to be a good presenter in the new online communications world, innovative ways to use and benefit from webinars, and how to make the best use of features such as typed chat, interactive polls, and shared screen annotations. These have become commonplace subjects that all the vendors now include as part of their content marketing programs, and I'm proud of the impact my early work had on helping to promote better quality and value for webinar hosts and audiences alike.
I started my blog in 2005, concentrating on usage tips, reviews and opinions about webinar technology offerings, and coverage of significant news and announcements in the webinar space. I have tried hard to keep it a highly-focused business offering, free of "what I had for lunch today" fluff. I have also refused numerous requests over the years to run vendor advertisements or revenue-sharing offers. I do not accept advertising from any web conferencing vendor and I do not take cuts of license fees if people decide to use one product or another that I happen to mention. I also will not accept money to do an "advertorial" review or promotional piece. If I write something about a vendor or a product, it's what I truly believe.
I still love what I do after 15 years. I have no other employees, no hiring and firing headaches, no staff meetings and status reports, no concerns about how to constantly keep growing revenue. I concentrate on offering personalized service with the highest quality care and results for my clients.
I can't thank you enough for being a reader, whether you started following me recently or have been a part of the journey over many years. If you have read this far, I am going to ask one favor… Tomorrow I will post a short, descriptive blog post about my business offerings and services I offer. If you could forward that to one person who works with webinars in their business, it would help me spread awareness and develop greater reach. Word of mouth from trusted peers is the best possible recommendation, and I truly can't do it without you!
Here's to another 15 years of watching webinar technology and webinar quality continue to improve and produce ever-greater business benefits.
My thanks and appreciation,
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