Unified Communications

ACT! Creator Finds a New Orbit

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  September 03, 2013

If the name Mike Muhney doesn’t ring a bell for you, the name of the company he co-created probably will. The man wandering the halls of TechWeek Chicago wearing a lime green corduroy sports jacket is none other than the co-creator of ACT! These days, Muhney is representing VIPorbit Software International, of which he is the CEO and co-founder.

Despite his success at building a CRM leader, Muhney said he is not a fan of CRM. As big and successful as it is, the aggregate user base of all big CRM systems amounts to just 14 million people worldwide, he said, adding that there are 500 million iPhone (News - Alert) users alone.

“So CRM is a very elite thing,” he said, “and only good inside my company. What about for the rest of my life?”

Enter VIPorbit.

The company offers mobile relationship management software, which runs on iPhones, iPads, and ­starting July 15, on Mac computers. It helps people handle their contacts, calendars, and communications – for both business and pleasure.

The Apple (News - Alert) world has never had what the Windows world had with ACT!, said Muhney, who adds that stuns him.

VIPorbit’s solution, available via the App Store, is based on the concept of orbits, or groups of people with something in common. For example, Muhney has orbits of customers, of golf buddies, of restaurants he enjoys, and of his Silicon Valley contacts, among others. Users of VIPorbit’s software can have an unlimited number of orbits, and the people and organizations within each orbit can easily be added to other orbits with a quick drag-and-drop maneuver.

This may sound similar to Google (News - Alert) Circles, Muhney said, adding that VIPorbit came up with orbits before the introduction of Google Circles. The depth of Google Circles is quite thin, he said, while orbits allow for a rich user experience. He offers as an example his use of VIPorbit to create and send a single message letting all his Chicago-based contacts (81 in all) know that he would be visiting soon, and inviting them to respond if they wanted to get together while he will be in town. He wrote the e-mail to make it sound personal, but he only had to compose and send one message, resulting in saved time and a greater possibility for connecting with more people in Chicago.

The iPhone version of VIPorbit’s software costs $9.99, but will become permanently free when the company launches its Mac version in July. The iPad version is now $14.99, but will drop to $9 on July 15. The Mac version will be available for a one-time license price of $99, but VIPorbit will have a launch price special of $49. There is also an option to have multiple Apple devices using the app, and syncing with each other, for $4.99 a month or $45 a year.

Additionally, VIPorbit offers a backup app within its app. For $4.99 a year now, or no fee after July 15, users can back up their contact information to Amazon encrypted servers with the click of a button. That way, if their wireless devices are lost or stolen, their contact information is safe in the cloud.

VIPorbit also expects to offer a workgroup version of its application starting in the first quarter of 2014. Muhney said some ACT! Certified consultants are waiting to sell this product, but that will be just one channel for this business solution. Muhney said there are also likely opportunities to join with channel partners to package and proffer the solution for various industry verticals.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi