A Fruitful Relationship

Tiny Plumtree was tapped by giant P&G to supply software--and both parties are benefiting

The drops from a leaky pipe in the ceiling were heavy, and loud--enough to make everyone at the meeting in Plumtree Software Inc.'s tiny San Francisco conference room edgy. Especially Dan Gerbus. The Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) executive flew into San Francisco that morning to meet Plumtree's managers for the first time. He wondered if P&G, with annual revenue of $38 billion, was crazy to trust a multimillion-dollar software project to a company with only 10 customers and led by executives who just three years before had been hashing out a business plan in a Berkeley (Calif.) boarding house. Plumtree marketing chief Glenn Kelman picked up on the anxiety of Gerbus and the two P&G managers traveling with him. "You could just see from the looks on their faces that they were wishing like hell they could just buy something from IBM," Kelman says.

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