October 6, 2006

Compiere is on the move - again

Author: Lisa Hoover

Compiere, a provider of open source ERP and CRM software, announced this week that it has relocated its headquarters from Portland, Ore., to Santa Clara, Calif., and plans to double its staff. Jorge Janke, Compiere's founder and CEO, says moving to Silicon Valley will allow the company to tap into the high-quality talent in the area. The move comes a little more than a year after the company moved from Connecticut to Oregon for the very same reason.

Janke says, "We aim to get senior and highly qualified people but we aren't under pressure to hire, say, 10 people in the next three months. If we find the right people, then great. If not, we'll wait."

Compiere can afford the luxury of taking the time to find the right person for the job after recently receiving $6 million in funding from venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA). According to Janke, NEA fully supports Compiere's mission to find new employees. "When we were talking to VCs and advisors, they said the move to Oregon was an improvement, but we needed to have access to bigger talent, and suggested we move again." Janke says he looked at several areas of California and ultimately chose Santa Clara for its affordable price range and available real estate.

Raven Zachary, senior analyst and open source practice head for The 451 Group, calls Silicon Valley a "constrained recruiting market," but says he understands the impetus behind Compiere's move. "Janke is hoping to recruit from the existing ERP software talent pool at companies like Oracle and former employees of Siebel. He's moving from Portland, which has the benefit of lower cost, but Janke will have an easier time recruiting down the street. Could he have opened a remote engineering office in the Valley? Yes, but the fact that his Series A VC [NEA] was there made it even more compelling to move the company."

Another area Janke plans to focus on with the new influx of cash is what he calls "central services": development, support, marketing, and training. Currently, Compiere works with more than 100 partners worldwide who are trained in the installation, implementation, and integration of the company's software. Compiere focuses solely on providing second-level support and service. "In the past, we didn't have the bandwidth to deal with the influx of feedback we got [from customers], so that's the reason we concentrated on partners," says Janke. Now the company is hoping to hire an ombudsman and a technical coordinator to work with partners and the community, and to round out the support and services already provided by Compiere. Working with partners, however, takes "effort and coaching. Previously, we didn't have the time to do that, but now the funding allows us to improve [in that area]."

Janke says that not all development will take place in Santa Clara; some work will be outsourced to other countries. "We have lots of partners in the community in other countries," he says. Quality will not be compromised by hiring off-site workers, however, because "one criteria of hiring technical talent in this way is that there must be a tech lead [to oversee the project]."

Zachary says that outsourcing is nothing new and is likely to continue. "Outsourcing development talent overseas is already an accepted business practice. We're seeing strong growth rates for open source skills outside of the first world due to lower barriers to entry. Open source [also] makes it easier for developing countries to pursue information technology."

Now that the company has settled into its new home, Janke says it's time to focus on the future. "We have some exciting enhancements and are in the process of completely revamping our HTML interface and are in the process of including Derby. We already have Java in place so we hope to get the Derby and HTML user interface in place by the end of the year."

Is Compiere done scouting new locations for now? "We'll open other office locations," says Janke. "Eventually."

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