Sramana: Was Sencha already an established company when you joined it?
Michael Mullany: Sencha had existed as a predecessor company called XJS. The first code started off as an open source project by a sole developer which had a small business generated around it. The current CTO decided to take the company in a direction of HTML, with a strong emphasis on mobility, and Sequoia invested in the company at the end of 2009. At that time the company was rebranded and relaunched as Sencha, with the mission of bringing HTML5 out in a well-packaged set of tools to web developers everywhere. I had worked with Sequoia before, and I came to the company to run product and marketing and later became CEO.
Sramana: Let’s look at Sencha from a positioning point of view. I see a lot of frameworks and DIY tools in mobile development and HTML5. Because you are savvy at positioning, help me simplify this space and where you fit.
Michael Mullany: Our positioning is based on quality of experience and breadth of platform support. There are players in each of those four quadrants. If you are here today building applications for mobile or desktop, then you need to fundamentally decide if you want to make something a native application or a web application. There are companies that play on the native side and there are companies that play on the web side. There are companies that play in single platform and ones that play in multi-platform. We are a web-based multi-platform.
A very good set of tools from Apple and an adequate tool set from Android let you build native applications for those platforms. There are a couple of companies that will help you write native applications that will run on multiple platforms, such as Xamarin, which will let you write code in C# and deploy applications to both Android and IOS. We are in the web-based multiplatform space. We build frameworks and tools that will help you build mobile and desktop tools that will run in every browser and every mobile browser.
Sramana: Within that quadrant, who are your competitors?
Michael Mullany: It is fractal. There are a set of big guys, us and jQuery Mobile. There are a ton of little guys that you assemble yourself to create a multiplatform application. Some developers like to take that approach. Those tend to be small libraries that you assemble yourself to make your application.
Sramana: Tell me a bit about how Sencha goes to market. How are you going to market and how is the market broken up?
Michael Mullany: We are a dual sourced company and a dual licensed company. We are similar to SpringSource in that we have very open distributions of our downloadable frameworks. You can get an open source version from our website. We have 2 million developers worldwide developing Sencha frameworks.
When it comes to premium services, the people who pay us for training and support are a small fraction of that user base. Our philosophy is to seed the market as much as possible to open and accessible frameworks, and then a fraction of those users will come in and pay for premium services.