August 24, 2011

The 15 Year Old Startup


Perforce just celebrated its 15th anniversary at a party that I hope everyone enjoyed as much as I did. As with many people who have put on a few years but still feel young, it's hard to imagine that Perforce has hit 15. In many ways, we still feel like a startup.

15th Anniversary Party

You always feel young until you start to add up your experiences and realize they couldn't all come that fast. We've been through two big busts and two big booms (with a third brewing); we remember Google and Amazon when they were babies, and we have ridden the Internet wave since it was just a swell and still miles offshore.

Today, we have the mark of respectability and are very responsible in many ways. Many household-name customers are using Perforce as the trusted warehouse for their intellectual property. Still, everything else about us is startup-like expansive: we're developing product this year that in ways doubles what we've done so far, we're expanding business into markets and countries we'd never even heard of before, and we've got that startup buzz and excitement around the halls because so much is going on.

Somewhere along the way, a fellow CEO said of Perforce (but not to me) that we were "underperformers". It's hard to deny that there have been meteoric successes and huge shifts in the industry since we started, while we're still no bigger than your average half year old, 1999 dot-com startup. But success is always relative, and while we never experienced the startup pop, we are solid, strong, and still here. That other CEO's startup folded.

Our eye has always been on the product, knowing that what's best for it will be what's best for our customers and best for us. Forcing the company to mature faster might have brought us quicker riches -- or quicker doom. But the slow burn has produced a great product, one that we're very proud of, and one that we're excited about as a platform for our 15 year old startup.