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Deal Radar 2009: Hippo

Posted on Tuesday, Jun 9th 2009

You’ve often heard me use the expression Built To Enjoy. Today’s Deal Radar showcases a quintessential Built To Enjoy company. Hippo is an open source information centered Content Management System (CMS) which targets medium to large enterprises to manage their content for multi-channel distribution like websites and intranets.  The company has been around for ten years and has a deep commitment to open source. 

It started out in Europe and recently gained a threshold in the US after acquiring the assets of BlueSunrise, an open source portal software development company in 2008.  Hippo contributes code to The Apache Software Foundation and is involved in defining open standards for the CMS & Portal industry.  Hippo’s integrated CMS and Portal system makes interaction with various information sources available to employees, partners and customers for knowledge intensive companies.

Tjeerd Brenninkmeijer, CEO of Hippo, began the company in 1999, together with his partners, Jeroen Verberg, CFO and Arje Cahn, CTO.  With an economics and IT background, Tjeerd wanted to do something in the knowledge management space.  While he interned at a large multinational company, he noticed over a hundred million dollars were spent as the company’s global intranet was rolled out.  He started Hippo with the idea to do something similar in a more efficient manner.  Over the years Hippo has grown to over 50 employees with its head office in Amsterdam and another office in San Francisco.  The company is entirely privately owned and funded since inception and is not currently on the lookout for any financing from outside. 

Hippo was founded during the middle of the first major internet boom.  At the same time, XML, a new way data could be structured, was also available.  While its products were being developed, Hippo used customer feedback to match clients’ needs and improve and grow in the marketplace.  From the start Hippo chose to leverage work that had already been done in open source communities rather than start from scratch. It then looked to join a global open source community, The Apache Software Foundation.  At the time, open source software was largely unknown to the general public.  In 2003, after a law mandated all government agencies to use open source, enterprises in Netherlands began to use it instead of costlier proprietary options.  Hippo’s open source backbone and its focus on customers helped it thrive during the dot com bust.  In the beginning Hippo built demos to explain its benefits within a company’s structure and offered customers special deals during its launch in an attempt to attract more customers.   

According to Gartner the total available market is estimated to be approximately $2.8 billion. Hippo’s business model is built around support licensing and offers training and consulting to implementation partners and OEMs.  The support options are built on a per CPU basis and are tiered according to various factors, such as guaranteed response time.  Access to all new versions, updates and patches, certified stacks and indemnification and implementation support is also available.
 
Hippo mainly targets larger organizations like government agencies, financial companies and publishers who need to manage large amounts of content.  Customers include ABN Amro, the Dutch Government Incisive Media (VNU Net), and the University of Southern California among others.  The company was featured in Deloitte’s most recent European Tech Fast 500 for two consecutive years.  The company has been profitable since inception.  It has shown a growth in revenue of 865% from 2003-2007 and continued to add people to its team even during the downturn.

Being in the top 5-10 open source CMS products, Hippo is currently not considering an exit because it feels there are several untapped opportunities still available in the market.  The company wants to focus on its rapid growth in this sector so it can remain on more lists like the ‘Vendor to Watch’ list by CMS Wire.

Recommended Readings:
Deal Radar 2009: PlainBlack
Deal Radar 20009: concrete5 

This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2009


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