Since the mid-1980s, CRM software has undergone an incredible evolutionary process. From a basic contact management platform, equivalent to a digital Rolodex, it has transformed into a robust system for managing all customer-facing business processes.
There have been a lot of ups and downs along the way, and many vendors failed to weather the changes. However, one of the earliest, perhaps even the first, true CRM vendors is still alive and kicking.
GoldMine started strong and has remained popular for nearly a quarter of a century. Given its continued popularity, it’s worthwhile to take a look at GoldMine’s past, present, and future.
The 1980s: Filling A Void
In 1989, at a time when most companies were still using dot-matrix printers, GoldMine Software Corp. founders Jon Ferrara and Elan Susser were looking to the future. As former computer-science students at California State University, Northridge, they knew that computer networks were the future of business. So, from their apartment in the San Fernando Valley, they began working on software that would help change the face of business. Using a borrowed telephone line and their own personal savings, they worked sixteen-hour days to create GoldMine.
The business world already had digital contact managers, email clients, calendar applications, and more. What it didn’t have, and what John Ferrara and Elan Susser were trying to create, was a single piece of software that could handle all of those functions, and be accessible across a network.
They envisioned a world in which sales people didn’t have to run back to a specific computer to access customer data. This important distinction would set their software apart from anything else on the market. In May of 1990, they fired the first shot in the CRM revolution with the release of GoldMine 1.0.
The 1990s: Controlled Growth and Critical Acclaim
Intent on maintaining creative control over their company, Ferrara and Susser rejected early venture capital offers. Choosing instead to live solely on the revenues generated by GoldMine, they continued to push out improved versions of their CRM software. The revenue growth allowed them to move out of their apartment and into an office, and their creative control allowed them to focus on product quality. That focus on quality paid off big-time in 1993.
From 1993 to 1997, they were awarded PC Magazines’s “Editor’s Choice” award four times. This brand recognition won them contracts with companies like Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Bank of America, and others. By 1995, they had moved GoldMine’s corporate offices to Pacific Palisades, fulfilling their early dream of an ocean view. By the close of the decade, they had won over 60 industry awards, and had annual revenues nearing $25 million.
In May of 1999, GoldMine was purchase by a South African technology company named iXchange for a reported $83 million. In 2000, iXchange was renamed FrontRange Solutions Inc., and continues to develop GoldMine.
The 2000s: Keeping Up With The Times
Throughout the 2000s, GoldMine released a wide variety of updates, new versions, and enhanced features. Some of their new product offerings included Business Contact Manager, FrontOffice, and, toward the end of the decade, GoldMine Mobile Edition. They also added Premium and Enterprise editions, along with support for popular Office applications like Outlook and Exchange, as well as integration with accounting software like Quickbooks.
While the 2000s didn’t see the explosive growth of the 80’s and 90’s, it did see something that may be more important—stability. When GoldMine launched, it was one of the few true CRM offerings available. By the 2000s, the market had been flooded by CRM vendors of varying quality and pricing. Some lesser companies didn’t survive the competition, and it’s a testament to GoldMine’s model that they maintained market share in a highly competitive market.
In December 2005, FrontRange was acquired by a private equity firm called Francisco Partners, but continues to operate as FrontRange Solutions under the umbrella of it’s new parent company.
In 2012, FrontRange separated their core businesses, creating a separate division for GoldMine to better focus on CRM development.
2010-Present: A Proven Formula
GoldMine continues to offer new versions and features on a regular basis. Their current version, GoldMine Premium Edition 9.2 is available in a three-user bundle for $1,695 or a five-user bundle for $2,995 per annum. GoldMine also offers a mobile solution for iOS users, though pricing information is scarce. Thanks to their partnership with EarthLink in June, 2013, GoldMine is now able to offer secure cloud hosting to their customers.
The critical reception of GoldMine hasn’t cooled much over the years. They continue to win accolades and awards from a variety of industry analysts. GoldMine boasts over one million users in forty-five countries and earned a 1.8% market share in our U.S. CRM Market Share 2013 study, putting them solidly in the middle of the pack. Since GoldMine is a division of FrontRange, a private company, definitive numbers on employees and revenues aren’t readily available.
Into the Future
With over two decades worth of development, feedback, and updates under it’s belt, it’s no surprise that GoldMine has a large base of loyal users. Many companies that started using GoldMine 10, even 15 years ago, still use it today and have built entire business processes around it’s deeply layered functionality.
The challenge for GoldMine going forward will be to maintain and grow it’s client base in the face of a vastly different CRM software landscape than the one it helped pioneer in the 1990’s. While it was once the go-to solution for business CRM, today’s enterprises should carefully evaluate a variety of products before making a selection.