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Wednesday 25 June 2008

IONA

This morning it seemed a very long time since February 1991 when Annrai, Sean and I started IONA.

In those very early days, one of my mentors told me that the chief responsibility of a CEO to his staff is to improve the CV of each and every staff member during their tenure with the company.

It’s a principle I tried to uphold during my two terms, and 12 years, as CEO of IONA. I certainly don’t claim a 100% success rate, but I honestly feel very privileged to have worked with each IONAian over the years since 1991, and sincerely hope that each and every career immensely benefited as a result. There are, and have been, wonderful people at IONA, and I cherish all those years with unbelievable fondness. The deep experience, and the proud development of each individual’s capabilities, will be something I hope that each person can reflect upon positively for the rest of their life.

When Software AG wrote a formal letter to the Chairman of IONA earlier this year, they triggered under Irish corporate law a lengthy and delicate process which has eventually resulted in today’s announcement. During the process, a large number of companies were contacted, which resulted in a shorter list of potential bidders. These included both trade companies, and private equity houses, who were then each invited to undertake detailed due diligence, including face to face meetings with the executive team and myself as a major shareholder and Board member.

Ultimately, a number of formal bids were made. The IONA Board, after careful consideration and detailed professional advice, have decided to recommend the Progress offer to our shareholders. Many factors weighed on that decision, heavily complicated by multitude of requirements under Irish, European and US legislation. In the thoughtful view of our Board, the Progress offer price - in cash - not only makes sense for our shareholders, but also Progress have the capability to execute (ie complete) the transaction; the acquisition should meet the requirements and expectations of continued service and quality to our customers and partners; and, from what we as a Board were able to discern from the character of the leadership teams of the various bidders, Progress’s values and culture appears to be the closest to our own.

I have known Joe Alsop for many years. I have no doubt that he feels the same responsibility I held when I was (twice) CEO, to improve the CV of each and every staff member during their service with the company.

I sincerely believe that there is a wonderful opportunity in the global enterprise middleware sector, and – assuming the deal is ultimately approved later this year - I fully encourage the combined Progress and IONA teams to (in due course) extremely aggressively compete in this vicious market. I will watch with interest.

4 comments:

Sean said...

Hi Chris -

Congratulations on the deal. Some mixed feelings I suspect, but it's one of those occasions where it warrants saying that it's the end of an era.

For the record: I worked at IONA from '95 - end '99. Some of the most enjoyable, exciting and challenging times in my working life. Brilliant times, great people, killer product. A thrill to compete internationally and on many occasions, win. Also inspirational with regards to doing our own startup post-IONA.

So, "thanks" doesn't cover it, but will have to suffice for now in this forum :-)

Cheers, Sean

Justin Mason said...

Regarding CV improvement -- it certainly worked well for me! ;)
Thanks a million for that opportunity, Chris. Working in Iona from the early days until 1999 was a fantastic experience for a fledgling software engineer like myself at the time -- even more so when it became clear we were making history for the Irish software industry.

Roland Tritsch said...

hi chris,

yes, an unbelievable adventure has reached a remarkable milestone. what a ride!!!

when i joined IONA the company was based on bees as a marketing tool, had a C3 strategy (i was told, originally it was a C4 strategy, but somebody thought this might not sell well) and had not enough space for its 650 poeple.

in any case, i am adding 3 jobs (inside IONA :)) and lots of successes (and some failures/learning experiences) to my CV.

three month ago i moved into my new house in blackrock. the name of the house is IONA (it was named like this before i moved in :)), means i am going to stay in IONA, no matter what.

thanks for the ride.

regards ...
roland

Fernando Ribeiro said...

Thank you very much for IONA. I can only hope Progress consolidates the portfolios right. Good luck going forward.