Laplink Software recently announced the hire of Christina Seelye as Senior Vice President of Market Development. Selected to lead Laplink’s renewed focus on consumer and SMB channels, Christina was the founder and CEO of the software publisher Elibrium and most recently served as CEO of Avanquest U.S., following the sale of Elibrium to Avanquest. Although only a few days into her new role, Christina gave BusinessComputingWorld her first interview to discuss her plans for growing the company. Interview by Christian Harris.
BCW: Firstly, congratulations on your new role. You must be very excited.
CS: Thank you very much. Yes, I’m very excited about the opportunities the Laplink product line has in today’s PC market.
BCW: Tell us about your qualifications for the position of Senior Vice President of Market Development.
CS: For the past 15 years, I have been developing new partnerships and channels for consumer and small business technology companies. In addition, I worked with Laplink during my tenure at Avanquest, which allowed me specific experience with the product line. I have launched and supported over 300 software titles in my career, so I understand the challenges and how to overcome them.
BCW: We’re interested. Who’s your boss?
CS: I’m reporting to Thomas Koll, Chairman and CEO of Laplink Software.
BCW: What type of new job challenges do you face?
CS: Consumer awareness of the migration category is somewhat low. Most consumers are surprised to learn that there is a very easy way to move not only your files and settings from your old PC, but your programs as well. One of the areas of focus for me is to establish partnerships that allow us to increase the migration category itself and therefore our piece of that category.
BCW: What difficulties and challenges do you foresee in making the move from a company that publishes a wide range of software products that to one that specialises in migration? How will you overcome these difficulties and challenges?
CS: Although our flagship product is PCmover and the migration category, we actually have a range of software products that include remote access with PC everywhere, synchronisation with PCsync and additional system utilities such as Laplink DiskImage, Laplink SafeErase and Laplink Defrag. The Laplink brand is highly trusted for communication and utility products and we believe that additional products under the Laplink brand will be very successful.
BCW: What’s the biggest mistake that you’ve made on the job? What did you learn from that mistake?
CS: I’ve made so many over the years, it’s hard to pick just one. Most of my mistakes come from trying to retain too much control over a project and not allowing the talented people around me to do what they do best. I’ve learned over time that if you allow others to work within their strengths, you will make better decisions and end up with a better result.
BCW: What are the biggest challenges facing a software vendor today?
CS: For a software vendor that relies on the retail channel, it is a difficult market today. Shelf space and margins continue to shrink which makes it difficult to execute creative marketing plans through retail. We are actively working on creating programs which bring the Laplink products out of the software shelves and place them with the PCs where a consumer is most likely to purchase a migration product.
BCW: What kind of a management team will you seek to build?
CS: Laplink has a top notch existing management team which I am grateful for the opportunity to join. Additionally, the team in place throughout the whole organisation is very dedicated to the success of the company and works very well together.
BCW: At the executive level, what actions can you implement to motivate employees?
CS: Clear communication of the opportunity and goals for executing against that opportunity are needed in order to effectively motivate employees. You have to get everyone excited about the result before you can lay out the plans to get to the result.
BCW: In your management of project teams, what steps did you take to ensure that project teams work effectively and efficiently?
CS: Understanding of the end goal or result by every member of the project team is key. If everyone is clear on the endgame, then they can make good decisions and work well together in order to get there. Many times managers just outline the milestones or tasks for a project without spending enough time defining the result. This results in employees viewing every new project as a burden instead of an opportunity. Spending the time getting everyone on board for the goal results in a more effective and efficient project execution.
BCW: How are you planning to develop Laplink’s marketing strategy?
CS: Laplink has done a fantastic job continuing to build value in the Laplink brand. The plan is to leverage that trusted brand across additional utilities and to increase the awareness of the migration category as a whole. We will be doing this by partnering with other strong brands that have a stake in increasing the purchases of new PCs, which PCmover does. We are in the process of a comprehensive PR tour discussing how PCmover allows a quick and easy migration to Windows 7. We will be partnering with various retailers with the launch of Windows 7 to attach PCmover to the sales of new PCs. We are also releasing a product that allows XP users to conduct an in-place upgrade to Windows 7.
BCW: Will we see any of these strategies filtered through to the UK?
CS: Absolutely. Across Europe the install base of Windows XP is very high. We are working on an in-place upgrade program that will roll out in the UK and across Europe as a whole. We also are launching programs with PC manufacturers to sell PCmover along side new PCs to alleviate the concern and fear that comes with migrating data and programs from users’ old PCs.
BCW: Moving on to Laplink products. What’s your biggest seller?
CS: PCmover is our biggest seller and owns the migration market.
BCW: How are your remote access tools selling compared to boxed products? Is there still a barrier to overcome?
CS: The remote access category is very large and has two strong competitors with Citrix and LogMeIn. We believe there is an opportunity for customer acquisition through the retail channel that has not been exploited by the other players in this segment, which Laplink is poised to take advantage of due to our existing presence in the channel. In addition, Laplink’s PC everywhere has a unique offering for mobile phone users that is much more user friendly than the competition.
BCW: You don’t make Mac OS software. Why?
CS: Traditionally that has been true, although Laplink did make the synchronisation software for the Apple Newton in the early 90s. This fall Laplink will release an updated version of its PCsync software that is Mac compatible, allowing users to keep files and folders in sync between PCs and Macs.
BCW: What do you think is the biggest problem people face migrating machines?
CS: The biggest problem is finding all the old programs?CDs and downloaded programs?that they wish to install on their new PC, and the needed serial numbers or keys. Also, many users don’t know where on their old PC certain files and folders exist (like an address book). Keep in mind that the old PC might have been in use for several years. Making sure nothing is left behind that the user wants to keep is a major challenge. That is why we created PCmover?it solves these problems.
BCW: What innovations can we expect from Laplink next year?
CS: We are always looking into creating new and innovative products. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.