Disruptive pioneers of Open Source

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Jerry Rapes1Recognised as pioneers of Open Source development in the Philippines, Exist Global grew through outsourcing services for the North American market and then took off in Southeast Asia. Inside Investor talked with Exist’s CEO Jerry Rapes about the phenomenon.

Q: Can you give a brief overview of Exist Global’s history?

A: In the early 2000, back when the open source movement was beginning to gather steam, Exist co-founder Winston Damarillo and 3 colleagues out of De La Salle University, had seized the opportunity to build a software company that would capitalise on the open source model to disrupt the market. We set up in 2001 with a small team, building a Java application platform, called Gluecode Joe, on top of an open source project called Geronimo. Winston would then sell Gluecode to IBM, making waves as IBM’s first open source acquisition. Later on, we delivered Fuse and Jetty for LogicBlaze and Webtide, respectively. LogicBlaze was acquired by Iona in 2007, and subsequently acquired by Progress Software in 2008. Webtide was acquired by Intalio in 2009. Close to 100 per cent of our market comprised that of US technology start-ups during our early years – and these companies recognised the tremendous value of the offshore software delivery model. In 2009, when the whole financial world crashed and the start-up business died down, we had to no choice but to expand in Asia. The situation pushed this and we closed our first deal here in 2009.

Q: Where did you start in Asia?

A: We started in the Philippines, which was very surprising for us, because we’ve always been more focused on our offshore delivery.

Q: Who are your customers?

A: We initially closed deals with the leading enterprises in the Healthcare and Telecoms sectors in the Philippines. As an example, we built The Medical City’s clinical data repository and electronic medical record system. We have grown our footprint in Asia Pacific, expanding in the Finance and Banking and Retail markets, as well as geographically, in Singapore and Indonesia. We continue our work as a technology partner to these enterprises and software vendors, looking to scale fast and take advantage of a cross-section of technology skills. We have also grown significantly in Australia, where we work with software vendors such as TrueTime. Unfortunately, we cannot publicly disclose a full list of customers.

Q: Where is your biggest footprint in Asia today?

A: The Philippine market makes about 25 per cent, and the share of other Asian  countries is almost the same size.  That essentially means that our biggest footprint is within the Philippines.

Q: What kind of contracts are you offering?

A: A big percentage of our employee base are full time employees, including the management team.

Q: What kind of competition are you facing?

A: We have competition from India and other players in the Asia Pacific. India has a more pronounced brand in terms of IT offshoring and has established players, that could easily take up large tenders. Vietnam is another competition. We have competition from local players, too.

Q: So, why the Philippines and not India or China for software development?

A: Indian companies are more focused on larger projects as they have the scale. The Philippines, on the other hand, is a formidable alternative. Communication is an advantage, as English is widely spoken and understood here. We have a very strong affinity to the US, which is still a big market for software engineering projects. On certain occasions, there is also a time zone advantage over India.  We have the supply, if we can sustain it. We have proven that the Filipino engineer can be at par with the world’s top engineers. Our infrastructure here in the Philippines is better than Vietnam, and the economy is thriving.

Q: What is your strategic plan for the next 3 years?

A: From a company standpoint, we always have the mindset of being self-disruptive. If we don’t do it, somebody else will. We want to be able to deliver for today’s enterprises. We want to grow in the markets where we now have started to build our experience and expertise, and these include the Healthcare, Finance and Banking, and Retail markets. And so we will invest in learning new trends and technologies, invest in our people, improve our methodology, and continue to grow our global alliance of technology partners. Our disruption model is about making technology work for our enterprise customers. Our roots in open source software means we can bring global best practices and our deep technical expertise to design the best possible solution for our clients.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Recognised as pioneers of Open Source development in the Philippines, Exist Global grew through outsourcing services for the North American market and then took off in Southeast Asia. Inside Investor talked with Exist’s CEO Jerry Rapes about the phenomenon.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Jerry Rapes1Recognised as pioneers of Open Source development in the Philippines, Exist Global grew through outsourcing services for the North American market and then took off in Southeast Asia. Inside Investor talked with Exist’s CEO Jerry Rapes about the phenomenon.

Q: Can you give a brief overview of Exist Global’s history?

A: In the early 2000, back when the open source movement was beginning to gather steam, Exist co-founder Winston Damarillo and 3 colleagues out of De La Salle University, had seized the opportunity to build a software company that would capitalise on the open source model to disrupt the market. We set up in 2001 with a small team, building a Java application platform, called Gluecode Joe, on top of an open source project called Geronimo. Winston would then sell Gluecode to IBM, making waves as IBM’s first open source acquisition. Later on, we delivered Fuse and Jetty for LogicBlaze and Webtide, respectively. LogicBlaze was acquired by Iona in 2007, and subsequently acquired by Progress Software in 2008. Webtide was acquired by Intalio in 2009. Close to 100 per cent of our market comprised that of US technology start-ups during our early years – and these companies recognised the tremendous value of the offshore software delivery model. In 2009, when the whole financial world crashed and the start-up business died down, we had to no choice but to expand in Asia. The situation pushed this and we closed our first deal here in 2009.

Q: Where did you start in Asia?

A: We started in the Philippines, which was very surprising for us, because we’ve always been more focused on our offshore delivery.

Q: Who are your customers?

A: We initially closed deals with the leading enterprises in the Healthcare and Telecoms sectors in the Philippines. As an example, we built The Medical City’s clinical data repository and electronic medical record system. We have grown our footprint in Asia Pacific, expanding in the Finance and Banking and Retail markets, as well as geographically, in Singapore and Indonesia. We continue our work as a technology partner to these enterprises and software vendors, looking to scale fast and take advantage of a cross-section of technology skills. We have also grown significantly in Australia, where we work with software vendors such as TrueTime. Unfortunately, we cannot publicly disclose a full list of customers.

Q: Where is your biggest footprint in Asia today?

A: The Philippine market makes about 25 per cent, and the share of other Asian  countries is almost the same size.  That essentially means that our biggest footprint is within the Philippines.

Q: What kind of contracts are you offering?

A: A big percentage of our employee base are full time employees, including the management team.

Q: What kind of competition are you facing?

A: We have competition from India and other players in the Asia Pacific. India has a more pronounced brand in terms of IT offshoring and has established players, that could easily take up large tenders. Vietnam is another competition. We have competition from local players, too.

Q: So, why the Philippines and not India or China for software development?

A: Indian companies are more focused on larger projects as they have the scale. The Philippines, on the other hand, is a formidable alternative. Communication is an advantage, as English is widely spoken and understood here. We have a very strong affinity to the US, which is still a big market for software engineering projects. On certain occasions, there is also a time zone advantage over India.  We have the supply, if we can sustain it. We have proven that the Filipino engineer can be at par with the world’s top engineers. Our infrastructure here in the Philippines is better than Vietnam, and the economy is thriving.

Q: What is your strategic plan for the next 3 years?

A: From a company standpoint, we always have the mindset of being self-disruptive. If we don’t do it, somebody else will. We want to be able to deliver for today’s enterprises. We want to grow in the markets where we now have started to build our experience and expertise, and these include the Healthcare, Finance and Banking, and Retail markets. And so we will invest in learning new trends and technologies, invest in our people, improve our methodology, and continue to grow our global alliance of technology partners. Our disruption model is about making technology work for our enterprise customers. Our roots in open source software means we can bring global best practices and our deep technical expertise to design the best possible solution for our clients.

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