Things couldn’t look any brighter nor the sky any higher for iManage and its co-founder and CEO Neil Araujo.
Araujo leads the management team that bought enterprise content management company iManage out from under the weight of HP. HP, we should note, acquired iManage when it purchased Autonomy (2009). And Autonomy inherited iManage via its acquisition of Interwoven (2004).
Talk about getting buried in the infrastructure of a megafirm. But no more.
The Dawn of a New Day
“We now have an opportunity and the freedom to reimagine what we do. And in the context of today’s market,” Araujo told CMSWire. “There are forces like the proliferation of devices, Cloud and open source,” he added, which didn’t exist in 1995 when iManage was founded.
Twenty years after he and co-founder Rafiq Mohammad first hung iManage’s shingle, Araujo sounded as excited and energetic as one of today’s young entrepreneurs, take Palmer Luckey of Oculus Rift, Drew Houston of Dropbox, or Aaron Levie of Box, for example.
While Araujo already has more than a half of a decade of experience leading a publicly traded company (iManage was independent from 1995 to 2004), has proven that he knows how to turn a profit over the long term, and how to keep and satisfy customers, there’s no way he’s going to rest on his laurels.
There are too many interesting things to do, too many ways to create new solutions and services around content. And now, for Araujo and his team, there’s the freedom and the resources to do it.
An Incidental Step Child No More
“You could say that in recent years we had become like the youngest brother, the third of three in a family. We didn’t get the attention (from HP),” said Araujo. “But just because we weren’t in the spotlight, it didn’t mean we weren’t great at what we do.”
And few would disagree. iManage’s list of nearly 3000 customers, which tend to be professional services firms (legal, accounting and financial) and the clients they serve, have been loyal throughout. And iManage’s brand hasn’t been tainted, according to Alan Pelz-Sharpe, an analyst at 451 Research.
But not only that, today’s news is creating reignited excitement among customers and industry insiders.
“It’s nice to see them reemerging out from under HP,” said Priscilla Emery, president of e-Nterprise Advisors which provides records management consulting. “Anytime a company gets acquired its customers, and their needs, don’t necessarily get priority treatment”.
And though Araujo said that iManage operated pretty much independently of HP, he doesn’t deny that they held the purse strings and, some significant power. Now that that has changed, an era of innovation promises to unfold, so much so that Mohammad who parted ways with HP last year, is one of the investors in the renewed iManage. He has also returned to the company as its Chief Scientist.
Most of the company’s employees, many of whom have worked at iManage for a decade or more, will remain with the firm.
“One can say for sure that the company's founders and team are passionate about their purpose and direction,” said Pelz-Sharpe.
And while their fervor might have been muted, the would have, could have, should have’s lists Araujo’s team was making at HP may soon say “done”.
What About the Money, Honey?
There will no doubt be onlookers who say that HP dumped iManage, but Araujo insisted that the decision to spit was mutual, that they were never a good fit and that HP’s forthcoming split-up simply offered a great opportunity.
“iManage serves a specialized market, it isn’t not a one-size-fits-all solution (in the way that most of HP’s solutions are),” he explained.
That being said, it’s unlikely that HP sold iManage for pennies. “It certainly wasn’t a fire sale. iManage is actually profitable and growing within HP,” said Pelz-Sharpe.
Araujo won’t even hint about what his team paid. “It’s somewhere between one and 100 billion dollars,” he said, adding that iManage executives own most if the company.
And while control is important, there are other assets the iManage team also holds dear. “We have the best people, a healthy, profitable business, access to cash (via a partnership with the Bank of Montreal) and our imaginations, “said Araujo.
There seems to be no doubt in his mind that the company can now unlock its corporate assets and deliver for its customers like never before.