Alfresco bags respected new CEO, preps IPO

by | 15 January 2013

Content management firm rings the changes, CBR talks to founder


British open-source content management maven, Alfresco, has just announced that it has hired a new CEO: former SuccessFactors president Doug Dennerline.

Dennerline is highly respected in the industry not just for his work at SuccessFactors, which saw him help to lead the SaaS human capital management firm until its ultimate sale to SAP for $3.4bn in cash, but also for his previous roles as executive vice president of enterprise sales for Americas at Salesforce.com, and before that chief executive of the Webex division of Cisco.

I had a quick sit down with Alfresco co-founder, chairman and CTO John Newton this morning, who started Alfresco with its former CEO and president John Powell back in 2005.

I suppose the biggest question about the hiring of the new CEO is 'why now?' "Well we're very excited to have Doug [Dennerline] on board, for a couple of reasons," Newton said. "He's extremely well respected in the industry and I am sure there were plenty of companies gearing up for an IPO that he could have led, but he chose Alfresco based on the strength of our model and our business.

"Also, having been at SuccessFactors he's really clued up on the software as a service space, and that's very important to Alfresco. I have talked many times with John [Powell] about the best way to take Alfresco public, and although we have our headquarters in the UK, we think it's best to get a listing on Nasdaq," Newton told me.

Alfresco has its US headquarters in Atlanta, but it has ostensibly been, until now at least, a British firm with its main HQ in London. The Nasdaq listing will give it more of a US feel, for sure.

Is the IPO imminent then? "We need to look at the capital markets," Newton told me, "And I don't think it's going to be tomorrow. But we're preparing, and bringing in Doug is part of those preparations."

Alfresco says it's just had its biggest ever quarter, giving it the confidence to seek a listing. The firm says it signed multiple $1 million-plus deals in government, financial services and media industries.

Newton said that the open source model has worked extremely well for the firm. Today it claims that more than 7 million people in more than 180 countries use Alfresco to collaborate and manage more than 4 billion files worldwide.

Newton added that the open source community has come up with plenty of innovations that Alfresco has then added to its code, while Alfresco in return has open sourced some of its own innovations that have subsequently developed their own ecosystems of software developers and concomitant applications.

"In seven short years, John and the Alfresco team have created a world-class technology company that, through the power of its open-source model, has completely disrupted the enterprise content space," said Dennerline in a statement. "We are at the very beginning of the enterprise shift to cloud and mobile, making Alfresco perfectly positioned to lead that shift."

Alfresco says it introduced the industry's first hybrid cloud sync platform for enterprise content. The company claims it can add DropBox-like functionality for users that want it, while enabling the business to retain complete security, control and auditability. It integrates with other cloud services including Amazon Web Services, Salesforce.com, Google Docs and Microsoft Office.

"As the first investor in Alfresco, we have always believed that the Alfresco team was capable of disrupting the content management market with its open approach. Under John Powell's leadership, they have accomplished just that and we are grateful and appreciative of John's contributions," said Kevin Comolli, managing general partner, Accel Partners and Alfresco board member. "We are thrilled to have Doug on board and look forward to a seamless transition to his leadership in driving the future culture, strategy and success of Alfresco."

Alfresco says one of its differentiators is the ability to connect people, content, systems and processes securely on both sides of the firewall, extending what it calls hybrid ECM capabilities from behind the firewall to the cloud - and then down to mobile devices.

 

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