European software companies seldom reach global scale. Cycorp has not only reached global scale, but is competing with Oracle, Adobe, IBM, and Salesforce.com. Read how they have navigated the market.
Sramana: Michael, where are you from? What is the background to your story?
Michael Seifert: I was born in the Copenhagen area where I lived until first grade. I then moved to a little island in Denmark with a population of about fifty thousand people. I lived there with my mother and her brothers through high school. My father moved to the US when I was 8 or 9. I spent my summer vacations in the Bay area with my father. My first flight to the US was at age 11.
Sramana: Your father moved to the Bay area, so I am assuming that is where you got your early exposure to this culture?
Michael Seifert: Yes. He started a company called SunFlex. I enjoyed going to work with him and that is where I was exposed to my first computer.
Sramana: What year was that?
Michael Seifert: I was around 11 years old, so that would have been around 1980.
Sramana: Let’s flash forward a bit. Did you stay in Denmark for college?
Michael Seifert: After high school, I went to the Bay area for a year and lived with my father. I worked as a personal assistant at his company. I moved back to Denmark and worked for a year to get into computer science studies. I then started at Copenhagen University doing my studies in the laboratory of psychology in Human Computer Interaction.
Sramana: That was in the early 1990s?
Michael Seifert: Yes.
Sramana: What happens after that?
Michael Seifert: I moved back to the Bay area for 2 years. I worked in a game startup for a year. After that, I started my own company, an Internet casino. At the time that was a novel idea, but I ran into a lot of legislative problems. The law changed rapidly and it turned into something where anyone running an Internet casino would go to jail, so I decided I should do something different with my life.
In 1998, I decided to go back to Denmark. I called up some of my friends who had helped me start up the online casino business and asked them if they would like to help me start a system integration company. They agreed to it. I was the first employee, and about six months later, my friends started to join, one by one.