It's my understanding that you are an open source company but I'm afraid I don't know much more than that. Can you explain your business model and how you fit into the market?
We started in 2006 in the open source data integration market, then moved into data quality and in 2009 acquired a company in the Master Data Management space, too, so we now have an integrated platform to help companies address all three problems in a much cheaper and more scalable and flexible ways than our competitors like Informatica and IBM. Our commercial clients include eBay, Virgin Mobile, Citibank, Sony Online Entertainment and Allianz, with our largest UK client being probably Reed Expo, while we also help the California state government with tax administration, for example. We have 10 offices globally now, including China.
Can you be more specific as to what exactly the problem you address is?
There's still a lot of issues between the way data is stored on different systems, its underlying quality and making applications work by talking to multiple sources. The same individual can be a 'GEORGE' in one system, a 'George' in another and even a 'george'; essentially we help the system understand it's all the same person. That's a very common issue with taxation systems, for example.
That's the kind of traditional data quality, ETL/data warehousing argument I've been hearing since the 1990s. What's different with your offering?
It's all about leveraging the open source and Java models. We offer a much more predictable and easier to consume model on how to do this. You can spend a million dollars upfront to do the same thing with an established player and you may get a great system, but it's a bet that it'll work. With us, you download and trial and if it works you only ever pay what you actually consume. Plus, it's much easier to build a specific adaptor or connector for your needs from our open APIs than with other approaches.
Your company recently [April] received an $8m investment from VCs brining total funding up to $28m and you claim your system has now been downloaded more than seven million times and your paying customer base grew 140% to 1,500 customers. Bernard Liautaud, the co-founder of Business Objects, heads one of those investor companies and sits on your own board - there some kind of a French 'software mafia' thing going on here?
[Laughs] Bernard I think is more focused on achieving return on his firm's investment than anything like that, but of course it would be very exciting for all of us if we were to ever achieve that kind of success.
Does that mean you are on an IPO path?
Potentially, but not in this market.
What, then, is your message to the CIO - how can you help him?
Data is becoming more of an issue for business every day - there's always more of it to take care of and its quality is getting more of a problem, too. There's no point in having a really great CRM system technology-wise if the underlying data on customers and leads isn't good enough - it won't help you achieve what you want in terms of leveraging opportunity. At the same time, open source and SaaS is changing the way CIOs can pay for and consume software, making it much more about only paying for what you actually consume. I think the message to the CIO is to look at better ways to work with enterprise software and specifically, the problem of data.