Sramana: Jacques, to start, let’s go over your background. Where do you come from?
Jacques Soumeillan: I am from Toulouse. My parents came to Toulouse from the countryside, so I was raised in the city with a very modest upbringing. I did all of my studies here, including college. I was able to study engineering at ENSEEIHT, which gave me a very good technical background. My first job was with Hewlett-Packard. At the time, HP was ranked as the sixth- or seventh-largest IT manufacturer. It was more famous for personal computers than it was for IT.
Sramana: What did you do at HP?
Jacques Soumeillan: HP allowed me to do sales as an engineer. I learned how to do sales at HP and was involved in the very technical aspects of sales. I was moved into some partnership management activities after several years. I spent five years at HP, and by the time I left I was working on launching partnerships with system integrators. I had that job when I was 29.
Once I had that job, it made me think that I could do quite a bit with my career. I then decided that I wanted to launch a business as a partner of HP. That ultimately led to my decision to start Cameleon Software.
Sramana: What year did you determine that you could launch a business as a partner of HP?
Jacques Soumeillan: That was in 1987.
Sramana: The world was quite different then. What kind of products did you want to partner with them on?
Jacques Soumeillan: At that time hardware was really the big thing in the computer world. I personally felt that software would be the next big thing, so I decided to work on HP’s platform building software for enterprise resource planning (ERP) business products and CAD systems. I used HP platforms to build those solutions and actually started the company as a system integrator. I quickly realized that the major issue for many manufacturers was the various options they had to consider to please their buyers. ERP solutions were not ready for manufacturer solutions with large options customized by buyers.
We then decided to do a very small project where we took some ideas from what we had seen in CAD systems and adapted the parametric technologies to business rules. At that time we were dealing with a very challenging issue regarding memory stacks and disk space. Those issues are way back in our history now.