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Genesis to Acquisition: Mike Morris, CEO of Topcoder (Part 6)

Posted on Sunday, Jan 7th 2018

Sramana Mitra: What happens after that?

Mike Morris: I can’t be specific about revenue after this point. This is where it gets interesting. At this point, we were cash-flow conscious. We weren’t doing all the things that we needed to do to grow more rapidly. We needed outside capital at this point. We had a few failed rounds mostly because we couldn’t come to agreement on the terms. It was difficult to give up the control.

I didn’t necessarily agree with where we were so I left in 2011. I went to go work for Appirio. My plan was to go out and start another company, but I met a colleague from Topcoder and he introduced me to the management team in Appirio. I spent some great time with them and I really liked them. He said, “We’re doing something at crowdsourcing. Why don’t you come in?” I took over as GM of Cloudspokes for Appirio.

It’s the same type of crowdsourcing model, but it was just on public cloud technology, primarily Salesforce. We grew that model quickly. We had a big base behind Appirio. We got to about 75,000 members and coursed through about a million dollars in revenue after the first year. This is now in 2012. We had the opportunity to acquire Topcoder.

Sramana Mitra: Why did that opportunity come by?

Mike Morris: They weren’t growing and the CFO had called me and asked if we’d be interested. Over the next six months or so, we finally came and executed the acquisition. Appirio acquired Topcoder. We combined it under the Topcoder brand. 2014 was a high-growth year for us. Even though I knew all of the players at Topcoder, it’s very difficult to do an acquisition. We started growing again.

We were running Topcoder separately from Appirio, and Chris wanted to bring it under Appirio. So Topcoder would just be the community. That was 2015. The issue that we had there was now all of our sales had to come through the Appirio channel.

The problem that came up was there wasn’t enough custom development in Appirio’s business to support the size of the Topcoder community. The majority of their work was configuration, mostly for Salesforce and Workday. In 2016, Chris and I had worked out a plan to split back the two companies. We were working on that strategy when Wipro came in. They wanted both companies, but they wanted them for completely different reasons.

Sramana Mitra: When did that happen?

Mike Morris: October of 2016.

Sramana Mitra: Very interesting. Is there anything else that you wanted to add?

Mike Morris: I was part of the founding team of Topcoder, then I quit Topcoder. I acquired Topcoder as part of Appirio and then sold Topcoder to Wipro. Since we’ve been part of Wipro, it’s been fantastic. Inspite of being part of a larger company, they’ve kept us separate and they truly see the Topcoder business model as disruptive. They want to make sure that we can grow this model. Having the leadership of Wipro behind our vision has been amazing.

Sramana Mitra: Very cool. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Genesis to Acquisition: Mike Morris, CEO of Topcoder
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