I am excited to announce that I will be joining Jive Software as their Director of Developer Relations as of May 3. I have really enjoyed my time at Compiere. I still believe that they have a great product and that they will do some really cool things in the ERP/CRM space. My reasons for leaving were purely cultural / logistical. While working remotely from my office in Portland worked really well when when the company was smaller and more distributed, as Compiere grew in size it became more and more difficult to do my job from Portland. The rest of the management team is now consolidated in Santa Clara, and I am the only member of the management team working remotely.
When working at Intel, location was largely irrelevant. At one point, I managed a team with members distributed across Oregon, Washington, and California. I also worked on a 3 person open source strategy team for a while with two of us in Oregon, one in Washington, and our manager located in Arizona. Working from home was also a weekly activity for me during much of my Intel career. I found that my productivity increased dramatically if I saved those tasks that required more concentration (strategy development, writing, presentation development) for my working at home day. Working remotely can be challenging, but it seems to work best in a corporate culture where remote workers are a common occurrence and not an exception.
I knew that I would eventually need to move on to a new gig based on the increasing number of issues related to working remotely within the Compiere culture, but I had not yet started looking for a new job. I regularly get email from people, either a result of this blog or from acquaintances in the industry, asking me if I am available or asking if I know of someone for a particular position. It was only because I got an email from Sam Lawrence at Jive software about looking for someone to manage Jive’s developer relations that I considered leaving Compiere. Jive has been a great sponsor of our monthly Portland BarCamp Meetups, and I have met quite a few of the people working there through various local technology-related activities.
I think that Jive will be a great fit for me, and I am really excited about working at Jive Software. Jive’s product line fits with my personal interests in online collaboration technology. They have managed to seamlessly integrate file collaboration, blogs, wikis, IM, and more into a recently launched enterprise 2.0 product called Clearspace. As Director of Developer Relations, I will be responsible for building a developer community program for developers with an initial focus on the new Clearspace product.
Jive is a cool company with great products. I am honored to be joining such a fantastic company!
Lately, I have been thinking about the different ways that an open source business model can benefit the companies that base their businesses on an open source product. Although there are many benefits, one of these benefits is that open source can be used as a marketing strategy. I blogged about this idea in some detail on the new Compiere Blog, and here is an excerpt:
Since Compiere is freely available for download, anyone can install the software, try it, and see if they want to use it in their environment. Many of these people will never generate any revenue for Compiere, but maybe they tell a few other people about Compiere, and maybe those people tell a few more people … This viral marketing helps to promote and market open source products with little involvement from companies like Compiere. Having an open source business model can generate a level of awareness that might otherwise cost a substantial amount of money to achieve through trade shows, advertising, etc.
Using open source as a marketing strategy requires a shift in thinking for anyone coming from a proprietary background. As open source companies, we need to encourage people to download our software for free – the more, the better! It does not matter to me that someone gets our software for free without paying Compiere a dime. Yes, they are benefiting from our hard work without giving anything in return, but all I need is for them to tell someone who will eventually want to attend training or purchase some type of support or other services from Compiere.
Open source companies also need to be a bit careful not to be too heavy handed with pushing people into revenue generation. We cannot (and do not want to) force people into purchasing support agreements or other services, because this would severely limit our ability to benefit from open source as a marketing strategy. Instead, we need to provide compelling services (support and others) that benefit our customers. Those customers who need and want our help will pay for it. (Quote from the Compiere Blog)
Today we announced our new Authorized Partner Program at Compiere. As many of you know, designing a partner program within an open source company has a unique set of challenges. The program must be designed to provide Compiere and our partners with enough revenue to sustain our businesses while creating product offerings at appropriate price points for customers. This is not unique to open source companies; however, most open source companies have to find creative ways to achieve this balance without relying on revenue from product license sales. The new partner program is designed to provide the resources partners need to build their businesses by providing consulting services, training, and support, since Compiere partners tend to have business models similar to value-added resellers, system integrators, and service consulting firms.
When I started working at Compiere at the end of November, they had a pretty good idea about what they wanted from a new Partner Program, but they needed someone to pull everything together to define the exact specifications for the program, write brochures and other promotional materials, and draft a completely new legal agreement between Compiere and our partners. My skills are a bit diverse (I’ve done everything from UNIX sys admin to market research on roller bearing usage in steel mills), and at a small company, the “just get it done” attitude means that I can get my hands into all sorts of fun things and do something a little bit different every day. I really love working for a company where I can jump in headfirst and quickly have a real impact on the company. Prior to Compiere, I had always been at very large companies, most recently Intel, where as one of tens of thousands of employees, it can become very difficult to see how your work impacts the profitability of the company. Additionally, the bureaucracy inherent in large corporations can result in much slower reaction time, and it can take many months to launch even the smallest program. I started working on the partner program at Compiere during the last week of November and the program launched just over a month later, which is amazing when you take into consideration the holiday downtime and the effort involved in getting a new employee (me) up to speed!
I love my job!
For anyone interesting in learning more about what I am doing at Compiere, you can read the press release issued today. Way cool … I’ve never been the subject of a press release before!
Friday was my last day at Intel. Changing jobs always brings mixed feelings: excitement about starting a new job combined with the difficult feelings associated with leaving so many great co-workers and friends. Intel has been a great company, and I have learned so much over the past six+ years; however, a few weeks ago, I made the difficult decision to leave Intel to return to my open source roots.
I have just joined Compiere as their new Director of Community and Partner Programs where I will be working in a small, start-up environment for the first time in my career. Compiere is an open source ERP/CRM software company, and I will be responsible for managing the relationship between Compiere and their open source community while also managing some partner relationships and programs. I am excited to be working in open source again, and Compiere has some really interesting technology that could make a real difference within the enterprise environment.
This is a great opportunity for me, and I am thrilled to be joining the Compiere team.