Sonatype's Wayne Jackson on open source, venture capital and growing a business
Washington Business Journal
Published: September 23, 2011 13:55
The latest print edition of the Washington Business Journal includes a story by tech reporter Bill Flook on the latest plans for Sonatype, a software startup run by Wayne Jackson, a well-known tech entrepreneur in the D.C. region.
Jackson sold Riverbed Technologies during the tech boom for $1 billion to Aether Systems, a once high-flying wireless data company based outside of Baltimore. Jackson later helmed Sourcefire Inc., a publicly held network security company based in Columbia, Md. I covered both of those companies back in my technology reporting days.
As Bill writes in his story, Sonatype and Jackson have been working to figure out "what it wants to sell and how to sell it. Sonatype has now settled on an answer."
The answer, which you can read about by clicking here, is open source software, used increasingly by corporations and government agencies with an eye on doing more with less in an age of budget cuts and belt tightening.
Bill learned additional details about Sonatype's plans that we didn't have room for in the paper, but they're definitely worth reading if you follow the D.C. region's tech sector, or if you like strategic insights on building a business model. Here they are:
“Open source is transformative, in terms of its ability to allow organizations to write software very quickly and to leverage innovation very aggressively," Jackson said. "What we’re doing is exposing the downside and offering a pretty creative way to solve those downside problems."
The financial services industry makes ample use of open source software, providing Sonatype its most obvious customer base. But software vendors, media companies, health care and government agencies also represent fertile grounds for the Maryland startup.
Sonatype has nailed down its first set of clients in the new strategy. Those customers, Jackson said, would prefer to not to be publicly named.
“The problem with the principal issue that we’re solving for companies is that we’re closing security and intellectual property loopholes they’d prefer not be exposed in the first place,” he said.
Jackson joined Sonatype last fall and had the company move its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters to suburban Maryland. The move didn’t discourage Silicon Valley investors, including Facebook-backer Accel Partners, which put $11.6 million into Sonatype in September 2010.
Asked whether Sonatype is planning another VC raise, Jackson said, “We are debating that actively.”
He said the company has no immediate need for more funding, but “the question we’re debating is more whether this opportunity is sufficiently large that it begs really hitting the gas pedal.”