Chris Barbin, Glenn Weinstein, Mike O’Brien, and Narinder Singh
) Chief Executive Eric Schmidt seemed like a prophet when he began talking up cloud computing in 2006. He wasn't the only one with an early hunch that Internet-based software would be a new way to go, however. That same year, Chris Barbin decided to reunite a group of colleagues from his former employer, webMethods, to start a venture that would help businesses tap into programs and services accessed on the Web. Barbin, who was chief information officer at "Borland Software"
in Cupertino, Calif., pooled $100,000 with Glenn Weinstein, Mike O’Brien, and Narinder Singh to launch "Appirio"
. Based in San Mateo, Calif., with a staff of 200 people, Appirio offers a range of services. It advises medium to large companies—such as "Japan Post Network"
, Dell (DELL
), Starbucks (SBUX
), Cisco Systems (CSCO
), and Flextronics (FLEX
)—on migrating from costly enterprise software to the cloud by using Google apps, for instance. It also builds custom applications for clients to enhance their use of products from partners, including Google, Salesforce.com (CRM
), Amazon.com (AMZN
), and "Workday"
, and manages companies’ IT. Since 2007, Appirio has raised $16 million in funding from such investors as "GGV Capital"
and "Sequoia Capital"
and helped more than 300,000 enterprise end-users move to cloud. In 2008, Appirio’s revenues more than doubled, and last year sales exceeded $25 million, but CEO Barbin, 39, says they’ve only skimmed the market. A recent report by "Gartner"
forecasts that by 2012, one-fifth of businesses will own no IT assets. "Traditional enterprise software is really hard. It’s messy; it’s dirty," Barbin says. With the cloud, new applications can be built on top of existing software in a few weeks or months, compared with years, and at lower costs. "Our goal," he says, "is to build the next generation IBM (IBM
) without the baggage of a hardware business."
—Venessa Wong (posted on Mar. 9, 2010)