Sramana: What drove your decision to move back to Denmark as opposed to staying in Silicon Valley?
Michael Seifert: There were several factors that weighed in on that decision. Personal relationships and family relationships factored heavily in my decision. I like starting business with other people and I had a larger social network in Denmark. I had a larger professional network in Denmark as well. When I look back, it does not seem like a bad decision.
Sramana: I don’t think it is a question of a bad decision, I was just intrigued by that decision. When you moved back to Denmark in 1998, what was the next step?
Michael Seifert: When we started the systems integration company, I was the first employee. Over the next six months, my friends started to join one by one. I found work for everybody.
Sramana: Were you focused only on work in Denmark?
Michael Seifert: Yes. In the founding notes of our first meeting, we had an interesting note in the miscellaneous category. That note read that in the process of our services work, we should build a software product that we could sell globally. We did just that.
The main focus of the systems integration company was Microsoft technologies, although we were pretty horizontal in the beginning. We ended up doing work on websites for larger corporations. After fielding 11 of those sites, one of my co-founders invented Sitecore in that process.
Sramana: Your work was essentially system integration services. You managed to bootstrap the Sitecore product through these services. Is that correct?
Michael Seifert: Yes. The product was not initially a product. There is a difference between a kit that is helpful to systems integration companies and a real product. At the time, what had been created was super helpful in developing websites faster and more smoothly. That was the foundation of the product.
Fast forward to 2001 and we decided to spin out our product into a separate company. We filed an application with the US PTO for the key differences in our product. I moved into the Sitecore business with two of the other co-founders and everyone else stayed at the systems integration company to run that business. That was really how Sitecore started in 2001 and 2002.
Sramana: When you spun out Sitecore with a half-ready product, what were the resources that you were spinning out with? Did you take cash from the parent company with you?
Michael Seifert: We spent the better part of nine months productizing what we had made. Sitecore was quite dependent on its sister company for the first year of its life even though Sitecore was profitable. Everything was a battle in the beginning.