Here Steve takes us down the early history of Concur. He illustrates where the idea came from, and how the company came into being.
SM: What did the company do in the beginning? SS: We have always done the same thing. We have always been focused on automating the expense reporting process.
The way the company got started is interesting. When Mike and I were at Contact Software, in the last 9 months of our tenure there, as we were selling the company, I was traveling a fair bit. The bankers who were involved had me traveling a lot talking about the technology, about where we could take it, etc. to potential buyers, and with all that travel I never got around to filing my expense reports. >>>
SM: Describe some of your team building experiences. Is your management team complete now?
JW: The first hire was the toughest. We raised $5 million on a PowerPoint deck and the promise that we knew the industry better than anyone. But then weeks went by and we couldn’t seem to find the right people to come on board. I recall our investors getting a little curious. But things started falling into place, my network started to deliver.
As a software startup, PlayFirst’s most critical hire was that senior web software architect. As a game publisher, our most critical hire was the chief creative person to run the portfolio and hire game producers. In both cases, a friend of a friend turned out to be the perfect fit. These two people have now been with the company for three years. The rest of the management team is also composed of former colleagues, or in once case a friend of a former colleague. >>>
Concur CEO Steve Singh recently did an interview with me to discuss the development of Concur Technologies (CNQR). Concur helps corporations lower travel and expense processing costs by streamlining the expense reporting process. It is one of the companies I have covered as part of my Enterprise 3.0 series.
SM: I would like to trace the story of how you built the company. What I would like to start with is your personal background. Where do you come from, where did you grow up and what was your early career? SS: I am happy to cover that, although it will probably be boring! I was a product of India, but I grew up in Michigan. I spent the early part of my professional career in Silicon Valley working for a division of Apple. I also went off and started a company that became a part of Contact Software which is the maker of ACT. I did a brief stint at Oracle, followed by a stint at Symantec. Most of these changes were due to being acquired. After Symantec I came on board as the CEO of Concur, which was February 1996. >>>
If there is ever a perfect marriage, this could be it. Tom Tom’s (AMS: TOM2) planned acquisition of Tele Atlas (AMS: TA) is perfect in more senses than one. For one thing, both are Dutch companies, with synergistic businesses, and a merger integration will be dramatically easier based on that reason alone. But of course, the real reason is their business synergy.
Tom Tom is one of the world’s largest GPS navigation system providers. TomTom’s annual revenue grew from €8 million in 2002 to €1,364 million in 2006. During this period annual net profit increased from €1 million to €222 million for 2006. 2007 Second Quarter results are as follows: >>>
Online dating (including Matchmaking, Personals and Matrimonials) is making waves across the world. In this era of online networking, dating on the net has revolutionized the age old profession of matchmaking by making it more affordable and convenient to the masses. According to Hitwise there are more than 1,421 sites in the Lifestyle – Dating category in the US.
Online dating services started catching up in 2001 and have grown phenomenally over the next few years to emerge as a $500 million-plus industry in 2005. According to Marketdata the dating sites make up 49% of the dating services industry. At least 15% of the U.S. Internet users visit an online dating site each month. The online dating services market is expected to be $650 million by 2008. >>>
SM: How did you finance the different phases of the company? Seed? Angel? VC? Corporate?
JW: I supplied a very small amount of seed capital that basically covered expenses while we secured our first round of venture funding. The $5 million Series A was led by Trinity Ventures and Mayfield Fund in mid-2004. Rustic Canyon led a $5 million Series B in December 2005.
SM: What financing stage are you at right now? Will you be raising more money? What timeframe? What is your ideal investor?
JW: PlayFirst is approaching profitability. We may raise growth capital at some point, but this is not currently a focus.
SM: You are in a “Hits” business. It’s like films. You have to produce hits to be able to keep growing. Silicon Valley VCs largely hated that model. How did you get past that in your initial funding?
JW: Well, Semiconductor is also a hits business … you spend $20 Million and then figure out whether the chip is a success or not!
SM: You got that logic from Gus 🙂
JW: Yes, but you know what I am saying, right? Also, we are not “just” in the hits business. We also also spreading the risk across and diversifying the revenue stream by selling other people’s games, as well as taking a portfolio approach with multiple titles in parallel.
SM: Yes, in that sense, your risks are lower than the semiconductor industry, because these days, its takes 20-30 Million to bring one chip to the market. There’s not much room for spreading risks. You only need 250k per title. They need Millions.
JW: Yes. But I think VCs are actually starting to even take the $20-$30 Million risks on games. The Massively Multi-player games cost that much to build, and they are investing in MPP games now.
If you want to come hang-out with me on August 15th, and kick around the Enterprise 3.0 concepts, register for this MIT Club of Northern California event at Cooley Godward.
Also, if you have an exciting Enterprise 3.0 concept, and email me in advance, I will work you into the discussion.
If you come, for sure, introduce yourself to me. I would love to see lots of entrepreneurs in the audience, and no, this event is not restricted to MIT Alums.
By Frank Lara, Guest Author
What happens when you delay your flagship product and you exist in the cut throat gaming sector? How about a 22% drop in your company stock and plenty of time to beat yourself up questioning – what went wrong?
Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) finished the week down 26% when you add in Friday’s after-hours activity. This week Take-Two announced it would not deliver “Grand Theft Auto IV” in time for the 2007 Holiday shopping season, and warned it would post a full-year loss, before one-time items. >>>