Fahad Khan is the Founder and CEO of One Public, one of the earliest Facebook Preferred Marketing Developers and a provider of next-generation enterprise social marketing software and solutions to global brands, agencies and retailers. The Makegood recently spoke with Fahad about his position and international trends in marketing technology.
The Makegood: Fahad, you founded companies on three continents. How did you get into the marketing technology industry and what inspired you to found One Public?
FK: I was at the right place at the right time. In September 2007, I immigrated to the United States. Facebook had opened up its platform earlier that year. I was looking for a job in New York City tech scene. In October, I went to a Facebook Developer Garage event at Union Square Ventures. I met a number of one-hit-wonder “App” startups and entrepreneurs with millions of early Facebook users—install base–talking about how they would monetize their apps. I saw an opportunity to build social apps for Fortune 500 enterprises and bring social into every business process of an organization. I was thinking social media bpo, enterprise social media and enterprise social networks before their time. I wanted to create “Accenture” of social media. However, the trajectory I, as well as other startups, ended up taking was social apps and solutions for marketers on Facebook. For example, Mr. Youth (now MRY) hired us to develop one of the first social marketing applications (Neutrogena Wave) on Facebook for any Fortune 500 brand. That really was the start of it.
The Makegood: You provide enterprise social marketing software and solutions for agencies and brands. Can you give an example of a program that you’re especially proud of this year?
While we are really proud of all the work we have done this year for clients such as L’Oreal, Turner Sports, Alize, Bravo, and countless other brands and agency partners, what really stands out in my mind is the customized & turnkey apps we have delivered for Travelzoo, Casio North America and a few other clients. What we have essentially done is created a private App Store for these clients in our Page Centrex Enterprise Cloud with Apps built and provisioned per specifications. These Apps allows our clients to launch a new sweepstakes, photo or video contest and other campaigns on Facebook and Mobile Web without having to come to us again. And they can do this a dozen or a million times without having to pay each time they run a promotion.
The Makegood: How does the One Public’s ‘Page Centrex’ platform fit into the social media software ecosystem and how do you help your clients any differently than others?
FK: Page Centrex is our product that we built in 2009 after Facebook introduced Pages. This was when the evolution of social media tools started. Buddy Media and Vitrue were one of the first to launch products with Involver, Wildfire and others following later. We remained focused on the enterprise version of our product, managed services for clients, and internal rapid application development tools. A mistake we made was that we didn’t launch the self-service version of our product soon enough and didn’t raise venture capital.
Early this year, 2012, we pivoted to focus on product and shed agency services; they were a mere drag on progress. So to begin with we launched the self-service version of our product, called ‘Page Centrex Ultimate’, absolutely free of cost. We were also the first company in the world to have launched iOS Apps built on Facebook Marketing APIs. In fact, Facebook launched their Pages Manager App few months after ours. Today, we have 50,000+ small and mid-sized businesses, using our products.
In the next few months we are going to launch a number of new products, all of them self-service and paid. In the paid versions we are going beyond Facebook Pages to include LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, and perhaps Tumblr.
Our focus is on the large enterprise customers. Big agencies and global brands. That is the market we sell to. Now the technology and product stack in social media management software space is not that different today and no one has a unified platform that does everything. Everyone sells a variant of the same thing. Everyone from Salesforce/BuddyMedia, Adobe, Oracle/Vitrue, Google/Wildfire to smaller players like us. That is how things are today.
So it comes down to five things in the current landscape:
1) What kind of managed service level you can provide to clients
2) What are the complementary products you can offer? For example, Salesforce/Buddy Media has the Radian6 advantage, Adobe has the Efficient Frontier advantage, and Google/Wildfire has no advantage at all in social media management software space
3) Total cost of service/ownership (licensing + professional services) and
4) The ability to customize the product suite to serve an enterprise client’s specific need
5) Global scale
We are currently focused on 1), 3) and 4) and are pretty much going to lead the way on cost-efficiency, customization and service level in 2013. We need 2) pretty badly and that is possible by either partnering with a larger player in the mix and or raising a large Series A round – we are working on both. And 5) comes after you have the first four.
Further, from a product innovation standpoint we will continue to launch paid self-service products for the middle market and small businesses. It just opens up new revenue streams and allows us to take the feedback and apply to improve our enterprise suite.
I had to tell the long story to give you the picture of current market landscape. To answer your question; we are working on next-generation stuff as it relates to enterprise social software and solutions. I can’t give you specifics on what we are working on but I can tell you this that next-generation social marketing software systems will be holistic, unified, distributed, complex yet intuitive, mission critical, decoupled, multi-platform and they will make the tools that everyone has today look like a joke.
We call products what are mere features and we call platforms what are mere half-baked products in today’s social media management software ecosystem.
The Makegood: What’s next in Facebook, mobile and marketing technology?
FK: Facebook is the most powerful marketing platform ever invented and there is no platform like Facebook. New products coming out of Facebook—FBX, Custom Audiences, etc.—are very sexy. The rate of change and introduction of new ad products from Facebook will continue to exponential. Facebook Advertising is the pure form of what is now being called “native advertising”. Facebook’s ad revenues will double in the next 3 to 5 years and activity in the Facebook PMD ecosystem will also increase two fold with a few more Buddy Media type exits in the next 2 to 3 years. So that’s what is next for Facebook as far as the Facebook Marketing APIs ecosystem is concerned. But I’d love to see Facebook’s power play in search and commerce.
The Makegood: Thanks, Fahad.