Sramana: How did you make the transition from Bull to BonitaSoft?
Miguel Valdés-Faura: My role at Bull was not only to deploy Bonita. As the director of the BPM division, I was there to help Bull services worldwide. At times we implemented solutions that were competitors of Bonita. We have had projects in South America and in the US with Oracle and other systems. I helped with those implementations. We pushed Bonita, but the customer ultimately wanted a different solution. It was important that I was, first and foremost, an expert in the BMP space regardless of the technology used.
Sramana: What happened in 2009?
Miguel Valdés-Faura: To be honest, I was thinking about creating a company out of Bonita at the very beginning. I saw a good opportunity. I am from the generation that saw MySQL and other open source projects turn into companies. In 2009 I decided that the community was there, and the right team was in place. The other co-founders of BonitaSoft were working with me at Bull. We had the technology, we had the team, and we had knowledge of our competitors.
In early 2008 I met the CEO of Talend. They are a major provider of data transformation technologies and they have 600 employees. They are second to Red Hat in terms of open source vendors. He was a big believer in BonitaSoft and he helped us raise money to create BonitaSoft.
Sramana: Can you talk about the structure of creating BonitaSoft? It was open source technology that various people had contributed to. What was the premise of what you were going to do on top of that technology to justify a new company?
Miguel Valdés-Faura: The timing was right to leave Bull. They were not a software company. We did not have to pay anything to Bull, and they are not part of BonitaSoft aside from being one of our partners. What we pitched in terms of building the company was to take the technology forward. In 2009 our technology was primarily oriented towards developers. It was mostly about a framework to build BPM applications at a low level. There were no GUIs. Our pitch was to provide an open source solution that was complete with a GUI, not just a framework. We wanted to bring BPM to the masses.
Sramana: Was the technology you were selling marketed as open source or as regular software built on an open source framework?
Miguel Valdés-Faura: We sell subscriptions. In our market most of our competitors are selling perpetual licenses. Those subscriptions include maintenance on the software as well as additional features that are not open source. At the end of the day, when you purchase the subscription you get access to additional capabilities that are not part of the open source bundle. You also get support and maintenance included in the annual subscription.
We built new capabilities for the open source edition. We also spent time building exclusive capabilities. We look at what Forrester and Gartner say are the required modules of a BPM solution to be considered complete. Gartner defines 10 major modules, and in 2009 Bonita only met requirements for the engine and the framework. At BonitaSoft we decided that everything that could make it a true BPM solution in the eyes of the analysts was a no-brainer, and we developed those and made it part of the core open source. What we add on top of those 10 major components are what you can get access to via the subscription.