Most open-source companies rely on business models (and development models) that aim to leverage large global communities of users and developers. The goal? Monetize some percentage of a very large number of community members. So it’s hard to imagine a more unlikely candidate for an open source play than Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), an industry dominated by big enterprise proprietary vendors such as Oracle and SAP that sell to Global 2000 organizations.
Openbravo, a Spanish-based ERP start-up, recently expanded its sales and executive footprint to the United States (the company’s third largest market), with new CEO Paolo Juvara headquartered in San Francisco. Juvara joined the company to lead engineering in Spain in 2007 after a 14-year career at Oracle in that company’s ERP and accounting products group. The Italian native was tapped as CEO at the end of 2010. I spoke to Juvara about the challenges of building a viable global business in ERP through open source and how he made the transition from engineering to CEO.
Question: What prompted you to move from a successful career at Oracle to a Spanish ERP start-up in the first place?
Juvara: You may find this hard to believe, but when I left Oracle in 2007 there were surprisingly few differences in how Oracle operated and a start-up. Each smaller product organization managed its own things very independently. Oracle was a very engineering-driven organization. So I did many things far beyond what you might consider within traditional engineering requirements, like sales training and competitive analysis.