Salesforce is buying startup GoInstant, a Canadian firm that designed a unique co-browsing technology that allows two or more people to browse the same website without any downloads or browser plugins.

That means it's not the same as screen sharing, and all parties involved can click, scroll and browse together. GoInstant has been marketing its service for improving e-commerce, customer support and sales. Sounds like a perfect fit with Salesforce, right?

Co-Browsing vs Screen Sharing

Anyone who's used, say WebEx, for screen sharing knows how powerful the system is, but imagine that kind of environment combined with the collaborative properties of something like Google Docs. That's kind of what co-browsing is, except co-browsing doesn't involve giving control of your machine to the other party like in WebEx screen sharing. Instead, customer service reps, for example, could guide people through transactions and forms right in the company's website in only a couple of simple steps. There's even an in-browser chat module so parties can communicate while they surf.

GoInstant says to think of the co-browsing environment as a third browser in the cloud.

Furthermore, there are security controls in place for disabling buttons or forms while co-browsing. Because there are no downloads necessary (also no Flash or Java), people are likely to feel a bit more secure. For online transactions, Salesforce obviously thinks GoInstant is on to something. Add in the fact Salesforce is all about the cloud, and this seems like a total win for both companies.

The GoInstant team has built incredibly sophisticated technology. We will help them scale and grow so that social enterprises everywhere can engage with and delight customers in totally new ways.” Parker Harris, co-founder and EVP of technology for

A Powerful New Customer Experience 

We haven't covered GoInstant before, but we're impressed with its simple idea, now on the verge of superstardom. What better way to show new customers or train employees than by working right in the browser with them? A little instant messaging, a little scrolling together, and you've got a powerful new way to interact online. How often do people go to sites like for a walkthrough on certain Web tasks? It's just like that, but with a live person to answer questions. 

Numbers haven't been released in the deal, but the Wall Street Journal pegged it at about US$ 70 million. That's a fraction of the cost Salesforce shelled out in June for Buddy Media, and is only the latest acquisition for Salesforce in a busy last couple of years.

Additionally, the GoInstant move seems to be a complement to the launch Salesforce rolled out this year. customer support could be a natural destination for the GoInstant technology, but so far, Salesforce hasn't announced what exactly they have in mind. Let us know in the comments if you think this is a good move or if you already have a favored co-browsing / screen sharing app.