Monday, 1 October 2007

Will SAP help grow the SME ERP market?

After long delays, SAP has finally presented a new additional product targeting SMEs. For a long time the product, code named A1S, now comes to life with a new brand name: SAP Business Bydesign. Although many things are still unclear (how much is slideware vs. real product with optimal performance, what will be the future of SAP Business One, what will be the role of SAP midmarket channel partners, will SAP achieve its aggressive targets,…) this movement is a recognition that the industry is changing and web-based technologies are the future, as we saw many years ago from our foundation back in 2001. Additionally, we believe that SaaS makes a lot of sense for many SME clients which are not IT experts and look for an affordable, easy to configure solution without IT hassles. And therefore SaaS is here to stay and I am sure SAP will be a great contributor/ enabler in growing up this market.

At the end, I believe SAP will help us grow the market and since SAP remains closed source (big surprise ;-) and I still think the new leaders of tomorrow will be companies who adopt a new and better way to develop and sell software the open source wayOpenbravo is also here to stay!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Another great award for Openbravo!

Today I just been informed of Openbravo winning a new award: the 2007 InfoWorld Bossie Award. It is great news for our project that in less than a year has already obtained three prestigious awards including this last one.

We know, as the article mentions, that in the world of ERPs “change happens slowly” and that's why we usually say that our business is more of a marathon than a sprint. And this is the reason why we like these awards since they clearly give to all the members of the broad Openbravo community additional energy to keep working hard whoever and wherever they are. Additional energy to continue leading this marathon towards opening the world of ERPs!.

I also feel very proud of our Engineering team who had a key role in the launch of our new release which incorporates many critical features which are being valued very highly. Finally, I want also to congratulate the other software applications that have obtained an award in the Best Application category together with Openbravo: SugarCRM, LifeRay, Alfresco, Scalix and Jabber and the rest of software companies awarded in the other categories.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Openbravo wants Apple engineers: The iPhone, a “breathtaking” experience!

I had the pleasure to play with the iPhone this summer while at LinuxWorld San Francisco. As Steve Jobs usually says in his Macworld presentations: “it is breathtaking”. As of yet, I cannot purchase one because as you know, it is neither homologated nor active for European mobile networks. Although I couldn’t experience the device while it functioned working as a phone, what I experienced at the Apple store indicates that it is really an amazing product.

For me above all it apparently is:

1) A best in class benchmark in usability success stories (check the following video )
  • Your feel as attracted to the design as with the iPods
  • After 2 or 3 minutes of usage, you not only know how to use the device but also you experience incredible navigability features that are clear innovations in software applications. Features like zoom in zoom out, the capability to scroll up and down with inertia, the magnifier functionality that pops up when clicking a word with your finger to correct it...the list goes on.
  • The applications which are included by default in the device are just very well thought out

2) A device that redefines the mobile internet experience and makes you truly believe in it
  • The industry has been talking a lot about mobile data … I have not believed much in this industry (with the exception of the SMS), when experiencing the mobile data experience that other terminals would give you; but now wait until you experience the iPhone when…
  • … web browsing with a wi-fi connection … amazing! … this is really web browsing and not what we have experienced in the past
  • … experience other widgets like the Maps … you can easily find routes to places when traveling, …
  • … weather … you can easily get the weather forecasts (definitively a killer up for my wife!)
  • … Youtube … watch videos right away, and many more that make me think that this new iPhone really redefines how the mobile industry will evolve.

Overall, and obviously with a disclaimer since I still have not fully tried out the phone (things like the batteries,…), big kudos to the Usability and Engineering team at Apple. If anyone there is looking to join Openbravo, please send your resumes to We’ll be more than happy to talk to you! ;-)

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

SugarCRM targeting an IPO

Martin LaMonica writes an article about SugarCRM quoting John Roberts, SugarCRM’s CEO, who already talks about a potential IPO. John anticipates in this article that the company, which now has 125 employees, can grow to $100 million in yearly revenue in the next couple of years. It is incredible how fast Sugar is growing if you take into account that the company was started three years ago. I think this is great news not only for Sugar but also for other professional start-ups leveraging the open source and SaaS business opportunity like Openbravo. The more we succeed… the more open the world of software will become!

From here… best of luck to Sugar (for sure they will still need to overcome many challenges) and all these companies.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Introducing Paolo Juvara to Planet Openbravo

It is a great pleasure to post about our new Chief Products Officer at Openbravo: Paolo Juvara. Paolo is both a great professional and great individual, and I am proud he is part of the team. He joined us last Aug. 16th (see press release here) from Oracle, bringing a wealth of experience in diverse Product Engineering areas (from Financials to Business Intelligence, Manufacturing & Distribution, Supply Chain Management, and, for the past four years, CRM Service) and, having understood how open source is turning around the software industry, he joins with the right attitude to help us open the world of ERPs.

Some hours ago he has posted a message in one of our forums requesting your opinion about our product, feedback on our plans and desires for the future Openbravo. He joins with great ideas to inject in our roadmap that will obviously bring emotion in the sometimes too-burnt ERP world and I am confident that with your feedback they can only improve. Let's help him contributing with your suggestions here.

Thank you all!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Energy for the entrepreneur!

Since April 2006, date in which Openbravo published its source code, our team has traveled to the US in more than 5 different occasions. The last one was some days ago when we participated for our second consecutive year in Linux World San Francisco and won an award.

This short post is to share with you what I love from the US and more specifically from Silicon Valley. So here I go with the list:
  • I love the entrepreneurial culture and how entrepreneurs are recognized by society. Success is obviously positively recognized and failure is not perceived as disaster in the professional careers of those starting up new businesses
  • I love the large concentration of entrepreneurs that exists and specially the large pool of skilled software professionals ready to jump ships to new start-ups. Synergies between the corporate world and the university and research community are much more efficient
  • I love the attitude that successful entrepreneurs have to help others, their practical advise that often give you to help you grow your business into a market leader and overall the rhythm of conversations when you talk business with them
  • I love organizations that are ready to work with start-up companies both providing services (adapting their offering) and becoming your clients (being more exposed to start-up risks)
  • I love the large number of VCs ready to invest in new breakthrough ideas taking an active role in shaping them.

Conclusion: If you are an entrepreneur go charge your batteries from time to time with energy shots from the Valley. It is worthwhile!

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Openbravo on TV

Yes it happened Tuesday last week. The national TV of Spain broadcasted at 20:00 pm -prime time here- an interview with me and Ismael Ciordia our CTO and one of the three founders. The interview was part of a series of shows that talk about successful entrepreneurial ventures in Spain sponsored by Banesto and ICEX .
It is a short interview but it shows several things that I like:
  1. It once again demonstrates how the dissemination works for an open source venture. Openbravo was picked because it illustrates the counterintuitive argument that giving away can result in profitable growth...and we obviously didn’t have to pay a single penny for the spot ;-). The full case is here.
  2. We are presented as a success story in the country we started operations so I am happy that is not only foreign media such as RedHerring, SourceForge and international media that recognise our progress.
  3. The case is focused on an area which in my opinion provides good lessons to many entrepreneurs: the important decisions that the founders of the company had to make to grow the company, including the recruiting a new external CEO (that is me) and other key executives. In my believe this is something that many founders hesitate to do, and results in a serious hindering of the growth potential of their projects. I must say that our founders acted wisely there (honestly, I really think so)
  4. In the video you could see that there is good professional and at the same time friendly atmosphere among the team, which is a key requirement for a winning company ...
  5. ... and last but not least, very good shots of our new release 2.3 which is about to be presented in LinuxWorld San Francisco. Some of these shots show the ERP running in Chinese thanks to our Chinese community which has done the localization.
For the ones that don’t speak Spanish, we’ll figure out how we can translate the video.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Openbravo launches “Pioneers” an innovative Partner Acquisition Campaign

One of the things that I really love about Openbravo is the team’s determination to redefine the rules on how ERP software is designed, developed and marketed in all areas. Over the next few days, we’ll be talking about the power of our next release (you can try our BETA version by downloading it here) and how we plan to continue innovating our Product area. In this post, I want to briefly talk about another important innovation that was introduced two weeks ago: the "Pioneers" campaign targeting potential partners who want to be the first to introduce Openbravo in their country.

Being the first Partner in a country not only means a clear first mover advantage, but also taking the responsibility to localize Openbravo to the specific territory. “Pioneers” is a campaign which targets the acquisition of a qualified partner in a country so that it can thus help serve the objectives of all of us: Community, Partners, and Openbravo as a company. So what do each of these parties gain?
  • The Community gains a free published localization pack (developed by the Partner with Openbravo’s professional support).
  • The Partner gains a once-in-a lifetime opportunity, as the first and only partner to get this offer, to benefit from all professional services required to build up its Openbravo practice. In addition, they naturally get a first mover business advantage plus the community recognition for being the first company to develop and publish the localization
  • Openbravo as a company gains a new qualified partner and takes a giant step toward opening the future of ERPs in each country.
I started this post elevating our team’s determination to redefine the rules of this business. These are rules that are redefined thanks to all those who form the broad Openbravo community: people, companies, partners, and obviously in this case, our team in Sales.

Please keep sending your feedback, regardless of your relationship with us as a company. We’ll make sure that we channel it adequately to continue with the innovation wheel. If you want to become a Pioneering Partner please submit your application here. Thank you all.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

3 success factors and 3 things to avoid when building an open source business

On June 7th Stephen Walli invited me through his blog to list three success factors and three things to avoid when building businesses using open source software. This is coming from a challenge initiated by Mikko Puhakka that tagged three people to jump in (one of them was Stephen) and there is already a good number of opinions being posted through this interesting pyramid (e.g, Marten Mickos, Javier Soltero, …). So here I go:

My three success factors for open source projects are listed as follows:

1. A great product at least equivalent to successful proprietary competition
  • Very obvious point but a must that becomes a "killer" aspect when combined with open source. A great product generates positive word of mouth from its users which is directly amplified through the natural dissemination mechanisms of open source.
2. Active and relevant community
  • Mandatory to properly leverage the two most critical aspects that open source enables from a business standpoint of view:
    • Facilitate the development of quality software
    • Facilitate the Sales & Distribution of software
3. Solid business plan executed by a great team of professionals
  • The business plan of any successful open source vendor should be build leveraging a mix of low touch-high velocity products & services sold arround the core open source product. An excellent team of professionals is the key ingredient to define, build and maintain the right business.
My three things to avoid:

1. Unbalanced leadership
  • A great product is developed by excellent product engineers. A great business is developed by a team of professionals with the right balance between technology and business skills. Typical business issues that should be well thought are: h2 build a leading brand in a world full of proprietary software?, h2 accelerate community growth and foster dissemination?, h2 acquire, develop and maintain best in class partners when starting up?, ...
2. Mismanagement of company growth
  • Open source by definition is international as of day one since software is available in the internet. If things go well … demand is much larger than the capacity of the start-ups behind the product to serve it. A well thought offering helps you grow your company without compromising quality service levels.
3. Unclear/ unfair policies that confuse your community on what is for free and what is offered at a fee
  • I love Marten Mickos presentation @ OSBC this year which said “Success in open source requires you to serve: 1) Those who spend time to save money and 2) Those who spend money to save time”. This is only achieved by being very clear, fair and open with your company policies.
People I have tagged to continue the challenge (I exclude the ones that have already been tagged by others such as Marten, Matt, Javier,…):
  • Fabrizio Capobianco (Funambol's CEO, open source guru, great entrepreneur and another European in the Valley)
  • Peter Fenton (One of the most experience Venture Capitalists in the space from Benchmark Capital, who has a very distinct opinion about the real drivers behind Open Source businesses)
  • And last but not least … Josep Mitjà (Openbravo’s COO and Open Solutions Alliance Board member … sorry Josep but lately you are not posting messages in your blog and the world needs food for thought!)

Monday, 14 May 2007

A great first year!

Dear friends,
This last year at Openbravo has been an extremely exciting and at the same time a very encouraging experience.
It seems like only yesterday that we were releasing our code on SourceForge and hoping that there would be a receptive audience of people interested in helping us to build the world’s best open source ERP solution. Just one year later, the sheer volume of interest, support and success we’ve enjoyed has been amazing.
After publishing our source code in April 2006, Openbravo rapidly became one of the key open source ERP reference solutions, with consistent top rankings in every major metric of activity compared to all other software projects published on SourceForge. Since Openbravo passed the 100,000 downloads mark on New Year’s Eve 2006, download rates have continued to grow. We are now opening our second office, in Barcelona and have continued to expand our team with excellent professionals experienced in handling the growing international demand and opportunities that exist for Openbravo.
In September 2006 we officially launched our Partner Support Unit by unveiling our Friendly Partner Program. Distinguishing Openbravo from other start-ups in the space, this program allowed us to build a network of 20 partners with whom we have been expanding our services while fine tuning support processes and acquiring further partners to help scale up our offering. The confidence that Openbravo gained through working with our first partners and the constant help and feedback we received was crucial in guiding the design of our latest program and we very much appreciate every effort and continued support.
In April 2007, having successfully closed our initial friendly partner phase, we launched an unprecedented, breakthrough Partner Program. This new program, which I invite you all to review, incorporates some extremely innovative services that contribute in creating a secure and powerful network of international partners. Today, thanks to this program, we are able to attract best-in-class partners from all over the world. They rely on our expertise to extend our successes to a large array of end customers of all different sizes and from a variety of sectors.
These successes have not gone unnoticed. We’ve been discussed in magazines such as Fortune, CIO Magazine, and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. We were also invited to join the Open Solutions Alliance (OSA) as a founding member alongside companies we very much respect, including JasperSoft, CentricCRM, Talend, SpikeSource and Hyperic. We are extremely positive about the work being developed there to foster interoperability among different open solutions, and proud that our COO Josep Mitjà has now been invited to act as OSA Board Member. Other leading open source gurus and companies have also helped us in our plans, and it would be unfair not to mention the help we have received from them (you know who you are ;-) ). Thank you so much!
We’ve been fortunate enough to work with some fantastic developers and be assisted by a wonderful group of employees and friends. The success of the Openbravo project on SourceForge has been built upon through the creation of the Openbravo Wiki, while the demand to use and develop Openbravo worldwide has led to localisation projects for over 20 different countries. As requests have come in for features like PostgreSQL support and a web services interface, the incredible talents of the developers and supporters of Openbravo have continued to meet and exceed our goals.
While we are proud of our successes, we’re even more excited about the future. Forthcoming developments including a thrilling new web interface, revised focused ERP functionalities and interfaces to the other leading open source projects are being created right now and will be released over the next few months. In addition we are working on the next generation platform architecture of Openbravo, code-named Openbravo Green. You can see our progress and goals for Openbravo Green on our publicly-available roadmap. Making our roadmap public is just one of the ways that we aim to show how transparent and shared our vision is. We truly believe in open source development, and that a web-based open source ERP solution can not only match the proprietary solutions available, but surpass them and create a solution that redefines ERP software in the process. The only way to make our goals happen is through the continued hard work of many, many people. For those who have helped us with that hard work and invested their trust, time and effort in us, please accept our sincerest thanks.
For those of you now joining our broad community, we wish you a warm welcome and thank you for joining and opening ERP’s future!

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

The boring bits are a SAP's strength

Last week, while still in Cannes, I read an article about SAP’s point of view on the impact of open source in ERPs. Henning Kagermann, SAP’s current CEO, declared in Computer Business Review that “Open Source is an option for operating systems and databases but not at the business application level”. This point of view does not surprise me since it is not a new statement coming from a top software executive. In the past, important executives such as Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer also disregarded the Open Source opportunity/ threat in the operating system world. But … you know … what really strikes me is the main rationale that Henning was using to support his point of view. He argumented that Open Source successful projects are those where developers like to work for “fun” and literally said “I have never seen anyone who likes doing that (referring to altering applications to cater for legal or regulatory changes such as Sarbanes-Oxley or Basel II). That is not fun. There is no choice. The boring bits are a strength of SAP” .
I am really astonished … Can we imply that SAP’s strengths against open source competitors are only built upon boring pieces?. Does Henning see open source competitors failing on their purpose because there is no fun on building ERPs?. If that was the name of the game … and you are working at SAP … please tell your boss that our growing community encompassing now more than 50 employees and more than hundreds of individuals working for IT companies around the world is really having “fun”!!!!. But please tell him that we are not having fun for the sake of fun. And here it comes the true reason why open source will make it in the world of ERPs: Fun for the sake of building Openbravo, the leading open source ERP Company in the space. At the end experience tells us that everything that can be built on open source, is finally built on open source (see other similar projects that are building business applications successfully with open source @ the Open Solutions Alliance )".

Anyway … I am convinced that we will see Henning in the future adapting its pitch as many others (read Gates and Ballmer) have done it. Don’t you think?

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Red Herring Top 100 Europe

Next Sunday I will be travelling to France on behalf of Openbravo to accept the “Top 100” award, presented by Red Herring. I am extremely satisfied with the award since it not only recognizes the work and results achieved so far; but also it points out to what I truly believe is one of the most differential elements that we have as a Company: the capacity to innovate! Opening ERP’s future and becoming the leading ERP in the space is a huge project requiring innovation toward building a solid and thorough business approach. And guess what … Openbravo guarantees this continuous innovation with one of the most professional teams that I have ever had. Allow me to celebrate with a big open applause or better yet, a big open bravo for our team. Guys … let’s make it happen!!!

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Back in April 2006

I think it is time to start my own blog and share with all of you the experiences, thoughts and ideas that I have as the CEO of Openbravo. It has been already more than a year since I joined this fantastic company and had the idea to start my own blog from that day onwards.

The idea was so strong that I was about to launch the blog the night we published our code in SourceForge. We had such a heavy workload that I judged at that time that the blog could wait. Today, almost 10 months after, we can not wait anymore and I would like to open this blog with the article I prepared at that time. The title of the post was obviously “Openbravo has gone live” and I continue to believe and feel strong on the reasons why Openbravo will make it happen!. The post prepared said the following:

Today is a great day for all of us, employees and community, since very early in the morning at 02:00 a.m. went live!. This website is the corporate website of a company that is committed to change the world of ERPs for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). But how come?. The answer is quite easy: combine a great product with open source and a great professional services company and you will get it … the future of open source ERPs opened!.

We know that this will not be as easy and simple as it is to say it but we know that 1) the arguments for change are too powerful to fail and 2) we are ready to make it happen!.

  1. Arguments in favour of a management system really adapted to the needs of SMEs, in favour of not charging for functionalities that aren’t really used, in favour of recognising the critical role of IT services companies (often named as distributors by proprietary software firms), …
  2. Our company background with more than five years of history, our vision and plans for the future and our people combining the right set of skills and excitement make us believe that we are ready!.

To finish this first article in our blog, I want to once again share our excitement with all of you; opening-up our ERP to the world; making it available to the community; building-up a professional services company; and directly delivering value to IT integrators and indirectly SMEs really thrills us up!. At this stage, we hope that you share our excitement and YOU JOIN OUR COMMUNITY!