Last night we announced the sale of Zeus Technology to Riverbed for $140m. This exit is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people over a long period of time. My involvement with the company dates back to 2004 when I led a recapitalisation of the business and there was eight or nine years of trading history before that.
I think we can identify a couple of characteristics of Zeus that contributed heavily to the success of the business in the period I was involved.
Firstly (and most importantly) the product has always been fantastic. We weren’t always selling a lot of it, but with very few exceptions the customers we had were very happy, mostly because the software worked really well. As former Chairman and CEO Paul Brennan used to say ‘it does what it says on the tin’. It was also very easy to install, so we had no headaches with complicated implementation projects or big professional services teams.
Secondly, we kept the business lean until the market was ready for us. Zeus competes with a number of much larger businesses and our unique selling point is that we sell software vs the competition’s hardware. That difference only became important to large numbers of customers when cloud computing took off.
There are many ways to build a successful business. This is the way that worked for Zeus.
It is common to joke that success has many fathers, but in the case of Zeus the list of people who deserve credit is indeed long. Key contributors since 2004 in the role of chairman or CEO were Paul Brennan, Paul di Leo, Michele Fitzpatrick and Jim Darragh. At different points over the last seven years each of them played a critical role in moving the company forward. I also want to thank the key members of the exec team who pushed the business forward to exit over the last couple of years: David Day (CTO), Charles Hobley (CFO), Kosten Metrewelli (Head of Marketing), and Pal Kosten (Head of Sales).
I hope I get the chance to work with all of you again.
Finally, I should mention the founders Adam Twiss and Damian Reeve who wrote the initial Zeus code when they were undergrads at Cambridge and ran the company during its early years. I didn’t get to work with Adam at all and only for a short while with Damian but their contribution was the most important of all (kind of obvious, but needs saying).
UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who has sent a note of congratulations. It means a lot, even if I don’t reply in person.