Turning VA Linux into VA Software and launching SourceForge Enterprise
The Client: VA Linux, a post-IPO hardware company, redefining itself while launching a new software product.
The Situation: VA Linux had one of the most successful IPOs in technology history, but its original business model was vanishing. They dropped their entire hardware-focused strategy, reinventing themselves as a software company (VA Software) launching a single product – SourceForge Enterprise Edition – and creating a new market in the process.
Silicon Strategies Role: Marketing strategy consultant in SourceForge Enterprise Edition’s pre-launch phase, devising the software’s go-to-market plan.
The Processes: Silicon Strategies led VA Software’s executives and marketing group through structured processes covering:
- New market definition
- Market segmentation model selection
- Market segment prioritization
- Identification of distinct buyer genotypes
- Core market messages creation for the product
- Software launch marketing plans
These processes – involving members of all major departments within VA Software – were designed to create a company-wide consensus on product launch marketing strategy. Our deliverables became the foundation for VA Software’s go-to-market plan and recruiting of their early adopter buyers. Secondary market research later confirmed and refined their strategy for their software product launch.
Silicon Strategies Marketing used these processes to educate VA Software’s marketing department on:
- Enticing early majority buyers
- Chasm crossing strategies
- Product launch planning
- Whole product planning
The Strategy: VA Software was creating a new market by introducing a commercial version of their famous SourceForge platform. With any new market you need to sell to early adopters (visionary people with time-critical issues) while developing a whole product definition for early majority buyers. To accomplish this, Silicon Strategies Marketing led VA Software in defining:
- Market segmentation strategy and prioritizing segments
- Core messages for early adopter buyers
- Whole product definitions and preliminary enhancement road maps
- Market descriptions for industry analysts
Our strategy was based on defining the market before the media or analysts could and making VA Software’s product the obvious choice for buyers. Defining the new market and product are essential pre-launch activities that accelerate market acceptance and early adopter buys.
The Results: Initial results were promising. In the first year, early adopters bought the product for large-scale deployments and VA Software brought IBM in as a strategic partner. Within two years SourceForge was used by more than 130 marquee customers including British Telecom, E*Trade, Los Alamos National Laboratories, Eli Lilly and Hewlett Packard.
The Lessons: New markets and products need more diligence than mature ones. Defining your market is a key strategy element. Getting broad internal consensus is necessary to ensure that the entire company communicates consistently to the buyers, partners, media and analysts. No company is too small or too large to ignore the rigors of market definition, segmenting and whole product design prior to a product launch.