Doing The Zimbra Math

Pats Weblog

Last Update: January 26 2007

Zimbra announced via TechCrunch this morning that they now have 6 million paid mailboxes.

My first reaction to this was pretty much the same reaction that I had when they announced that they had 4 million paid mailboxes just three short months ago. That reaction goes a little something like this:

“BULL-sh*t!”

After doing some further thinking, my reaction hasn’t really changed that much. I just don’t see how the math adds up. For example, they claim to have 1,300 customers, which sounds very reasonable to me. But, if you divide 6,000,000 mailboxes by 1,300 customers, you get an average deployment of 4,615 seats per customer. I just don’t see how that’s possible. Not to mention I know of at least a dozen of those customers and none of them have deployments that would justify these types of numbers. And even the customers that they tout really aren’t that big. I have to assume that they’re probably selling software licenses that allow up to a certain number of users, most of which simply aren’t being used (i.e. a license that allows you to create 100,000 email accounts even though you might only create 5,000).

I don’t want to come across like I’m bashing Zimbra though.

First of all, I think that their success is a good sign for the entire industry. It shows that businesses are willing to move their email away from some of the traditional software and service providers. And if businesses are indeed willing to move their email systems, then it shows that the best providers, not the oldest or the biggest, will win out in the long term.

Secondly, I don’t view them as a competitor. Customers come to us because they don’t want to deal with the headaches associated with managing an in-house email system. Zimbra is an in-house email system.

And finally, I think Zimbra is doing an incredible job. They’re filling a market void as an in-house software alternative to Microsoft Exchange and they are doing a hell of a job with their public relations and marketing efforts. And even if their numbers are 1/5 of what they claim them to be, that is phenomenal performance and for that, they need to be commended.

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