We’ve looked at a few case studies of European companies successfully turning themselves into global ones. SDL, Mendix, and Sitecore are just a few examples. In that select club, OutSystems is a key player.
Sramana: Paulo, let’s start out at the beginning of your story. Where were you born and raised? What was your journey like leading up to the OutSystems story?
Paulo Rosado: I was born in Portugal. I attended the Universidade Nova in Lisbon and I graduated with a computer science degree in 1988. In 1992 I went to Stanford University where I received my masters degree in computer science. I then worked in Silicon Valley until 1997. After that I returned to Portugal to start my own company.
Sramana: What kind of companies did you work with during your time in Silicon Valley?
Paulo Rosado: I worked at Oracle.
Sramana: You went back to Portugal in 1997. What was the scenario that prompted you to move back?
Paulo Rosado: There were a multitude of reasons. I was on Fullbright J1 Visa, and when you have that type of Visa, you always have to go back and spend two years away. I also had some personal issues that dictated that I needed to go back.
The theme in 1997 was very similar to Silicon Valley. There was very little rational thinking and money was thrown everywhere. We created a company where we provided the first products that supported the infrastructure for very large intranets and extranets. We are talking about the first very large implementations of browser-based technologies. Our customers were telecoms, banks, and retailers. We got really big customers and had good traction. I ended up selling the company in 1999.
Sramana: What is a very quick ramp and sell. What specifically did you do?
Paulo Rosado: We created our own application server platform technology to build large-scale intranet and extranet. Those types of technologies became outdated as much bigger products appeared in the market. Application servers and e-commerce servers started coming out with dedicated missions.
Sramana: Were you building these solutions for local customers?
Paulo Rosado: Yes, that is exactly what we were doing. We focused on Portugal although we did have a few other clients in Europe. We had two major telecoms, a couple of large retailers, and some banks. We ended up acquiring about 15 large customers.
Sramana: Who acquired the company when you sold it in 1999?
Paulo Rosado: The company was acquired by a large Portuguese multinational called Altitude Software. They were in the call center business and they wanted a strong Internet play. They were on the IPO path when they bought us and I joined the executive team of that company. I was on that team for the next eight months.