You might not think of Bozeman, Mont., as a place with many tech businesses or much at all in the technology sector. You'd be wrong. The city is indeed home to RightNow Technologies
CEO Greg Gianforte founded his company in 1997 in a spare bedroom in his Bozeman home. It was a good move, considering that the company is now a leader in software solutions for managing relationships with customers. RightNow's solution is comprehensive, dealing with traditional and online channels of customer communications and also incorporating modules for sales and marketing. In 2004, RightNow's technology handled approximately 500 million customer interactions.
The company's technology is based on the application service provider (ASP) model: Its customers pay a subscription fee to use the technology. Since RightNow hosts the software, customers bear no infrastructure costs. And thanks to spread-out licensing fees and minimal setup hassle, customers achieve financial benefits from the software five times faster than with the traditional licensing model, Gianforte said, adding: "It's a disruptive innovation."
In its fourth-quarter and full-year results released yesterday, the company showed revenues of $17.7 million, a 67% increase from the same period in 2003 and the 28th consecutive quarter of revenue growth. For 2004 as a whole, revenues were $61.8 million, a 72% increase from 2003. Net income was $1.3 million for the fourth quarter and $3.4 million for 2004.
In Q4, RightNow added 80 new customers to a list that now includes such biggies as Cisco Systems
However, investors were expecting more growth, and as a result, RightNow's stock sank almost 10% by midday Tuesday on the earnings news. Gianforte believes that the ASP model will be the preferred way for enterprises to consume software for many years to come, but he acknowledges that any disruptive model is subject to short-term volatility. "Rome wasn't built in a day," he said.
Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article.