John Powell, CEO of open source software company Alfresco, draws parallels between the business practices that have gotten some financial companies into trouble and proprietary software companies. Lack of transparency leaves customers at increased risk, he argues. Powell expects open source software companies, because they're more open in product development, to be more appealing in the wake of financial industry turmoil.
Transparency matters, says Powell
HEADQUARTERS: Maidenhead, England
PRODUCT: Alfresco content management software
PRINCIPALS: John Newton, co-founder, chairman, and CTO; John Powell, co-founder and CEO
INVESTORS: Accel Partners, Mayfield Fund, SAP Ventures
EARLY CUSTOMERS: American Stock Exchange, Boise Cascade
Alfresco makes its content management system available at no charge under the General Public License to do-it-yourself technologists, while charging fees to companies that want professional support and an enterprise version of its platform. The company has about 600 paying customers, and revenue jumped more than 100% in its last quarter. Alfresco doesn't publish support prices on its Web site, but Powell says Alfresco's cost is about one-third of SharePoint and one-tenth that of high-end competitors.
Alfresco has been around long enough that it's a bona fide alternative for IT departments that are looking for a system to support document, image, or Web content management. Still, some of its most interesting capabilities, including a refreshed user interface, are so new that they're still in beta testing, so potential customers should give the system a good tire-kicking. Alfresco Enterprise Edition 2.2 has been available since May; an upgrade, Alfresco Enterprise Edition 3.0, is due at the end of October.
Newton co-founded Documentum, acquired by EMC, and he worked as a software engineer at Ingres before that. Powell ran worldwide operations for Business Objects, which was acquired by SAP.