The year 2000 was probably not a bad time to be leaving software giant Computer Associates (CA). Sales had begun their downward slide and a row about a big compensation package for the top brass was raising questions about CA’s governance practices. For Peter Malcolm, a developer with an entrepreneurial streak, it was time to start out on his own once again.
Malcolm joined CA in the mid 1990s via a circuitous route. He had founded a storage software company, IQ International, which was acquired for $11 million by Cheyenne Software – which was subsequently swallowed up by CA. IQ was prized because it enabled businesses to back up files that were open and in use.
His big idea this round was to develop a package that could manage and monitor corporate email, web mail and instant messaging. The technology uses a keyword tagging system to check and track messages for corporate governance purposes. It also ensures that valuable data, such as trade secrets and company accounts, do not leak out.
Malcolm’s timing – at least in terms of technology – could not have been better. By the time his new company, Orchestria, released its first products in 2001, email management and corporate governance had become hot topics.
Of course, Orchestria is not the only company with products in this hot market. But Malcolm claims that the company has few direct competitors, and that rival products tend to lack at least one part of Orchestria’s offering, he says. For example, Orchestria technology is uniquely able to monitor the content of instant messages as well as incoming email, he says.
Not everyone agrees that the technology stands out from the crowded email management sector, however. “Orchestria’s technology is very advanced, but I don’t believe it’s unique,” says Sara Radicati, president of analyst company Radicati Group. The renewed focus on corporate governance has encouraged many suppliers to introduce similar products, she says.
The technology might be advanced but it does not come cheap. That makes the financial sector Orchestria’s primary target market. Radicati says the price will have to come down if the software is to reach a wider market. Or perhaps, like IQ a decade before, it will find its way into a larger suite via an acquisition.