September 25, 2010

Goodbye OpenSpirit Corporation

I started work at OpenSpirt on June 1, 2003. The company had 18 employees and under $2 million in sales. We were about to release the best version of the software ever - about two orders of magnitude faster than the currently released version.

We slowly grew the company using cash flow, with a little bit of equity from the then current investors. We targeted specific accounts and specific functions, and then delivered what we promised. We had a great relationship with our investors and cut no prices (we doubled them when I joined, and then increased them by 2.5x a couple years later.)

In 2006 we took on another investor to enforce of view of Vendor Neutrality (one of our founding principles) and it worked. We got an outside Board chair. We got a bunch of cash, and used it judiciously to expand overseas. But we still made money. We were cash flow positive for six years in a row.

OpenSpirit saw the growth of, and helped promote, Petrel - a wonderful piece of modeling software. We piggybacked on much of their success.

Then oil companies started seeing us not as an interesting science experiment, but a necessary part of their work-flow.

We had the growing pains that all small companies do. We had to add better benefits (expensive!) infrastructure (painful) and process (don't tell me what to do!).

By late last year we had over 65 employees, and were seen as the undisputed leader in integration and interoperbilty software in the oil and gas upstream vertical. Nice place to be, but it was sort of a small niche.

One of our owners decided that it was time to sell. Probably not the best environment to sell into, but he who pays the piper calls the tune. All we had to do was dance.

And dance we did. We selected an investment banker (Houlihan Lokey out of San Francisco) and started the game. We had the first term sheet in about a month (nice job, guys!) but it took a long, long time to negotiate the deal. More on that later. Or maybe not.

So here we are. Closed and funded last week. The investors can't be unhappy (well, they can be - but if they are it is their own damned fault). The employees are by and large happy (what about my vacation?) and we are looking forward to a great time as part of TIBCO Software.

Good luck to us!

September 20, 2010

Schumpeter: Down with fun | The Economist

I can tell you how to have fun at work:

1. Clear Goals
2. The tools and training to be able to reach those goals
3. Reward (not necessarily financial) once those goals are reached.

THAT is fun

Schumpeter: Down with fun | The Economist: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

September 19, 2010

September 4, 2010