Leigh Jasper is the co-founder and CEO of Aconex, on online collaboration platform for construction, infrastructure, energy and resources projects. He has led the company through a decade of rapid growth, during which it became the world’s largest provider of project collaboration solutions for the construction, energy and resources sectors. Prior to founding Aconex, he worked for McKinsey & Company as an advisor to clients in the media, financial services, and building materials industries on strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and business growth issues.
Sramana: Leigh, let’s start with your personal background. Where are you from, and how does your personal story lead up to Aconex?
Leigh Jasper: I am from Australia, where I grew up in the country about three hours northeast of Melbourne. My family ran a small business. I went to boarding school, which is actually where I met the co-founder of Aconex. I went to school to study engineering before heading off to work for McKinsey & Company. I was there during the dot-com crisis from 1998 through 2000. I had the good fortune of doing a lot of projects and studies which looked at how the Internet affected various companies businesses.
My co-founder, Robert Phillpot, was working for a construction company where he was managing all of the documentation and everything else associated with a project. Over many discussions, we decided there was an opportunity to use the Internet to change the way that people used the Internet to manage their projects and processes and how multiple companies could collaborate on the same project.
Sramana: Did you work for McKinsey in Australia and start Aconex in Australia?
Leigh Jasper: Yes, we founded Aconex in Melbourne, Australia. My work with McKinsey was predominately in Australia as well. I moved my family to the Bay Area two years ago and I am now based here in San Francisco.
Sramana: When did you recognize the opportunity to start Aconex?
Leigh Jasper: It was at the end of 2000. We started it in the dot-com bust. We raised our first round of funding in 2000 and launched our first product in 2001. We were a cloud-based solution from day one. We were a software as a service company back in 2001. We did that because we saw the Internet as being the underlying infrastructure to allow people to collaborate on construction projects. The Internet was a way of connecting up a project. We set about building a platform to allow a projects information and processes to be managed via the Internet.
Sramana: You are referring to construction projects, correct?
Leigh Jasper: Any asset-based project can be managed with Aconex. This includes roads and bridges as well as high rises and shopping centers. We have done work with oil and gas and nuclear facilities. Any capital project that results in an asset being built can have its information flows managed with Aconex.