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10/16/2008
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John Foley
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Startup Of The Week: Alfresco Software

The company's CEO expects open source software companies, because they're more open in product development, to be more appealing in the wake of the financial industry turmoil.

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.
--John Foley

ALFRESCO SOFTWARE


Transparency matters, says Powell

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


BEYOND CONTENT MANAGEMENT
Since releasing its flagship system, Alfresco has been layering it with new capabilities. They include Alfresco Labs 3, a SharePoint-compatible repository; Alfresco Share, a social networking application; and Alfresco Surf, for REST-oriented Web development. Last month, it released a draft implementation of the new Content Management Interoperability Services spec.

BUSINESS MODEL
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.

OUR TAKE
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.

BRAIN TRUST
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.

TIMELINE
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