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Why We’re Letting Accelerators Give PBworks Away

19 Jun

This morning, we announced our “PBworks for Startups” program.  We’re working together with five different startup accelerators, TechStars, 500 Startups, Acceleprise, DreamIt, and Lemnos Labs, to offer PBworks Starter Pack licenses (normally $1,995 per year) free to any of their portfolio companies.

While giving away premium licenses may seem like it contradicts the principles of the freemium business model, we believe that it actually represents a more highly-targeted version of freemium, and that it will help us make money.

At its heart, the mechanics of the freemium business model are that you provide a version of your service for free, and then make money when the free users encounter the limits of the free product, and decide to upgrade.  Its benefits are that it generates greater awareness of your product and lets you demonstrate your value to potential customers before hitting them up for money.

PBworks for Startups is simply a highly-targeted, high-value version of this model.  Our general freemium product features limits on users, storage, and the number of workspaces.  Most of our upgrades come from people who encounter the storage or workspace limits, after they’ve been using our product for a while.

PBworks for Startups offers 100 GB of storage and unlimited workspaces; the only limitation is the 20-user limit.  So why does it work?

The program works because it targets a very narrow market for whom the user limit is critical: High-growth startups.  Startups may start in a garage, but when the growth hits, it hits with a vengeance (along with large amounts of venture capital, and, hopefully, revenues).  If a startup adopts PBworks when it is in the proverbial garage, it is likely to want to keep using PBworks as it grows.  The easiest way to win the next Facebook as a customer is to get Facebook to adopt you when it is still in its corporate infancy.

We’ve targeted startup accelerators because they provide a convenient, high-volume channel for reaching this kind of startup.  500 Startups, for example, has 450 portfolio companies–far more than a typical venture capital firm.  But the guiding principle is simply to plant seeds at high-growth startups.  We’re certainly willing to work with VC firms, law firms, or other partners who can help us reach the next Facebook.

So if you think you can help us plant the seeds of PBworks at the next Facebook, apply to join the PBworks for Startups program.  Simply email us at accelerators at pbworks dot com.

PBworks Spring Cleaning: Reclaiming idle workspaces May 15

29 Mar

This May, PBworks celebrates its 8th birthday.  We have thousands and thousands of workspaces dating back to 2005, many of which have lain idle for years.  The problem with these idle workspaces is that they take up a lot of valuable URLs without doing either us (PBworks) or their creators any good.

That’s why PBworks is doing a little spring cleaning to prepare for our birthday.  On May 15, 2013, we are going to reclaim any workspaces that haven’t been changed (page edited, comment made, file uploaded) since May 15, 2012.  In other words, if a workspace has been inactive for more than a year, we’re considering it abandoned, and will reclaim it and delete the data.

Reclaiming these idle workspaces will free up thousands of potentially useful URLs for people who will actually put them to use.  This won’t affect our paying customers (though we’ve checked–no one who is paying us has left their workspace/network idle for an entire year!) or anyone who has actually used PBworks since the middle of 2012.

If you have any old workspaces you’d like to keep, all you have to do is log in to them!  We’ll know you’re still getting value from them, and they won’t be reclaimed.  We’ll also post warnings on your workspaces prior to the reclamation date, so if you don’t see any warnings, your workspace is safe.

Printing Workspace Pages

25 Oct

We recently discovered an issue with the software package we use to create printable PDFs from your workspace pages.  We’re looking for a suitable replacement.

In the meantime, you can still print your workspace pages.  Instead of using a PDF, you can select “Printable Version” and we’ll provide an easily printed web page.  If you still need a PDF, many web browsers, like Google Chrome, now offer the option to print to a PDF file, or installed software on your own computer can also generate a PDF through the printer interface.

Once we’ve found, tested, and implemented a suitable replacement (a process which we believe will take a number of weeks) we will switch back to providing printable PDFs.  We apologize for any inconvenience in the interim.

Introducing the New Legal Hub

27 Aug

For the past few years, law firms of all sizes, ranging from solo practitioners to AmLaw 100 members have used PBworks Legal Hub for internal, client, and partner collaboration.  Legal Hub gave law firms all of PBworks’ standard collaboration tools (wikis, file sharing, project management, social software) with the additional legal functionality of server-side encryption and a complete audit trail to ensure the privacy and security of confidential information.

Now we’re adding new legal-specific functionality to help litigators by providing online case binders.  As litigators prepare for their courtroom appearances, they can use Legal Hub to store and coordinate all the key documents and filings, including motions, pleadings, and expert witness testimony:

Legal Hub even applies Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to uploaded images of court documents, indexing these previously unsearchable files and making them part of Legal Hub’s search engine.

If you’re at the ILTA conference this week, contact our sales team at, and we’ll be happy to arrange an in-person demo.  You can read the full press release here.

30 Minute Maintenance Window, Midnight Pacific Time, Saturday May 19

16 May

On the morning of Saturday, May 19, PBworks will be down for maintenance from midnight to 12:30 AM Pacific Time (3 AM Eastern/7 AM UTC/8 AM BST).  During this time, the PBworks service will be offline; you won’t be able to log in, nor will you be able to access your site.

During these 30 minutes, we’ll be upgrading our infrastructure to better support our customers.  We’ve tried to select a time when as few people as possible will be impacted.  Once the maintenance is complete, you will be able to return to using the service as you normally do.

Thanks for being a PBworks user, and for your patience throughout this process.

Publish PBworks Pages As Printable PDFs

28 Dec

One of the most popular feature requests we’ve received over the years is the ability to convert a PBworks wiki page into a PDF.

One of the most common complaints we’ve received over the years is that the printable version of a PBworks wiki page doesn’t look that much like the on-screen version.

Today, we killed two birds with one stone by releasing the ability to convert any PBworks wiki page into a printable PDF.  This replaces the old “Printable version” with a more attractive PDF, which you can either print or download and share.

The “PDF version” is available at the bottom of every page, and to every PBworks user, paid or free.

Thanks for your suggestions, and helping us make PBworks an even better service!

Introducing PBworks Agency Edition

9 Nov

Here at PBworks, we’re focused on solving specific business problems for specific markets.  We believe that’s the best way to deliver value for our customers.  That’s why we’ve created specific products for educators, law firms, and CRM.  And that’s why we’ve just launched PBworks Agency Edition.

Over the past year, we’ve had the good fortune to work with some of the biggest names in the agency world, like Landor Associates and the BtoD Group (a part of WPP, the world’s largest advertising holding company).  As we’ve worked with them to integrate PBworks into their workflow, we’ve learned a lot about this fascinating market.

It turns out that agencies are inherently collaborative.  To get a TV commercial or print ad from idea to your living room takes an army of different people, ranging from creative directors to designers and copywriters (not to mention the client).  And historically, all this coordination was done via email and telephone.  If Mad Men were more like real life, Don would spend a lot more time herding cats…and the show would be a lot less interesting.

The industry is also undergoing some major changes that are increasing the need for collaboration.

Media fragmentation–adding digital, social, and mobile to print, TV, and radio–makes it nearly impossible for a single agency to handle all aspects of any major campaign.  As a result, cross-agency collaboration has quickly become one of *the* hot topics in the industry.

Globalization is driving a much greater need for online and asychronous tools.  Even if a major campaign gets kicked off at HQ, it needs to be localized across six continents by local offices–and no one wants to get up at 4 AM to call Hong Kong.

Rapid personnel turnover makes it ever more important to find ways to capture the knowledge of each agency’s people.  Unless their name is above the door, you can’t count on any particular person staying at their current agency.

Finally, innovation is the Holy Grail.  Consumers are jaded and cynical, and it takes bold new campaigns to break through that armor.  To get that innovation, agencies need to be able to tap the talents of their entire team via social collaboration.

We’ve taken these concerns into account, along with agency-specific needs like managing complex customer relationships, and sharing in-progress video in a more secure environment, and created PBworks Agency Edition.

Agency Edition is a beginning, not an end.  As we continue to work with our customers, we’ll continue to deliver innovative new features to meet their needs.

Here’s what other people had to say about the news:

Permissions Update: Bringing Writers Back Into the Fold(er)

21 Oct

For the last few years at PBworks, while building an amazing set of new technologies we’ve tried to stay true to four consistent set of tiers for access:

  • Readers cannot modify the content of a workspace in any way (though they can optionally be allowed to comment).
  • Writers can perform reversible / non-destructive operations that don’t affect workspace-wide settings or security.
  • Editors can modify and delete things on a workspace in an irreversible way but they cannot affect workspace-wide settings or security.
  • Admins can perform any operation on a workspace.

It’s become clear that when we rolled out folder manipulation that we left writers out of the party, so to speak, by not letting writers create folders. Some Administrators worked around this by making everyone Editors but were then worried about people accidentally deleting information. Madness. And since folder creation is a reversible and non-destructive operation, we realized that we ought to fix that to let writers better structure their contributions to a workspace.

So on October 26, 2010 we’ll be flipping the switch to allow writers to create folders. (It’s also my birthday that day!)

Check out our fabulous Permission Levels page for a refresher on exactly what each role can do.

Introducing PBworks Real-time Collaboration

5 Nov

A few weeks back, we asked you to guess what we’d be announcing at Enterprise 2.0.

You need wonder no longer.

On Monday, PBworks announced its real-time collaboration update.  Starting on November 17, Project and Legal Edition customers will have a whole new way to use PBworks to work together.

  • IM Collaboration
  • Live Notifications
  • Live Editing
  • Voice Collaboration (early 2010)

IM Collaboration will allow users to see who else in their organization is actively using PBworks at that moment, and send them instant messages from within the product.  In addition, users will also be able to summon others to the workspace page they’re working on using the “send a link” function built into the IM system.

Live Notifications will alert users to activity within their organization in real-time, rather than requiring them to await an asynchronous email notification.  Users can select which notifications they want to receive, based on “starring” or “following” particular pages and other users, and the system will stream the relevant notifications to whatever page a user is viewing.

Live Editing will eliminate the need to use web conferencing services such as WebEx, PlaceWare, and GoToMeeting to share a PBworks editing session.  Whenever a user is editing a workspace page, the other users viewing that page see the edits appear in real-time.  When combined with IM Collaboration, Live Editing makes it easy to convene an ad hoc meeting for working synchronously.

Voice Collaboration is the fastest and easiest way to set up a conference call with other members of your organization.  Rather than setting up a conference line in advance and asking attendees to dial in, PBworks Voice Collaboration allows you to initiate an instant conference call by dialing the desired participants.  You can add new participants at any time, and each conference call is recorded and stored for later review.  Voice Collaboration can even be triggered using your iPhone, making it the first conference calling application that works on that platform.

If a user is editing a page and realizes that he or she needs the input of other team members, he or she can summon them to the appropriate page using IM Collaboration, start a Live Editing session, and use Voice Collaboration to initiate an instant conference call, all in fraction of the time it would take to set up a web conference, set up a conference call line, and communicate the details to the intended participants.

We’re pretty excited, but don’t just take our word for it; you can read about what other people have to say:

Riding the Wave: A History of Real-time Collaboration

23 Oct
Courtesy of thelastminute

Courtesy of thelastminute

Now that I’ve started to talk with analysts and other early adopters about PBworks’ upcoming Real-time Collaboration update (more on that later), one of the very first questions I always get is, “Is that like Google Wave?”

Many people, even industry experts, are under the impression that Google Wave is the first product to offer real-time collaborative editing.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, real-time editing has been around for decades.  So in the interests of the common good, I’m offering this brief history of real-time editing.

While true industry pros will tell you that real-time editing has existed since the PDP-10 era, the first citation that appears on Wikipedia is Instant Update for the Mac, circa 1991.  More recently, the primary real-time editor that people cite is SubEthaEdit, though this product remains relatively unknown outside of developer circles.

In the wiki/collaboration world, real-time editing has been around since JotSpotLive…which, ironically enough, was acquired by Google (and then dumped in the dustbin).

More recently, Etherpad (disclosure, I am a personal investor in its parent company, AppJet) launched its web-based real-time collaboration tool in November of 2008, and has built up a tidy little following.

So by the time that Google Wave emerged in May 2009, real-time collaboration had been around for nearly 20 years, and had even existed as part of the Google family (prior to JotSpot’s burial at sea).

That’s not to say that real-time collaboration, being old rather than new, isn’t groundbreaking.  In fact, we here at PBworks believe it has a ton of potential…the key is figuring out how to apply it to the all-important task of getting work done.

We think we’ve done so, and will be unveiling the PBworks take on real-time collaboration at the Enterprise 2.0 conference (which you can attend for free!).

Those of you who are PBworks customers and users, stay tuned next week for a special sneak preview….