2015 Entrepreneur Of The Year® — Northern California

For these game changers, vision is only the beginning

EY has long celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of men and women who have followed and achieved their dreams. Over almost three decades, we have applauded their commitment to innovation and perseverance in the face of enormous risk. They saw a different future and made it happen.

The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® Program provides an enduring legacy to these dynamic leaders, recognizing their vision and impact. By uniting them in a lasting network of peers who thrive where so many others have failed, we have helped to build an influential community of innovative entrepreneurs.

Each June, we host celebrations in 25 U.S. cities to toast the vision and impact of the men and women who are regional finalists. These leaders have changed the lives of countless others by building their businesses and giving back to their communities.

Join us in celebrating their passion, innovation and tireless pursuit of business excellence.

Congratulations to all our finalists!


Ernie Cortes
program director
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year®
Northern California

2015 Entrepreneur Of The Year Northern California

Quick links:

CLOUD SERVICES Keith Krach, DocuSign, Inc. | Dylan Smith, Box | Suhail Doshi, Mixpanel   EMERGING Dheeraj Pandey, Nutanix, Inc. | Rob Bearden, Hortonworks, Inc. | Todd McKinnon, Okta  HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES Jean-Jacques Bienaimé, BioMarin Pharmaceutical | James Schoeneck, Depomed, Inc. | Edward Lanphier, Sangamo BioSciences Inc.   NETWORKING Jayshree Ullal and Andy Bechtolsheim, Arista Networks | David Ulevitch, OpenDNS | Selena Lo, Ruckus Wireless   RETAIL AND CONSUMER PRODUCTS John Foraker, Annie’s, Inc.| Thomas Harman, Balsam Brands | Richard Norgrove, Bear Republic Brewing Company  SERVICES Kenneth Lin, Credit Karma | Kathy Johnson, Ph. D., Home Care Assistance | Mary C. Kariotis, Merrimak Capital Company, LLC  SOFTWARE Marcus Ryu, Guidewire Software Inc. | Jyoti Bansal, AppDynamics | Kirk Krappe, Apttus   TECHNOLOGY Paul Nahi, Enphase Energy | Conor Madigan, Ph. D., Kateeva | Peter Arvai, Prezi

2015 Entrepreneurs Of The Year

CLOUD SERVICES, Award Recipent






Keith Krach
chairman and CEO
DocuSign, Inc.

When Keith Krach joined DocuSign, Inc. in 2009 as chairman, the company had about 50 employees and focused primarily on developing an eSignature platform for real estate transactions. But Krach, the co-founder of Ariba Network and Rasba Corp., quickly recognized the opportunities were much greater than this single vertical market.

He evaluated the existing leadership structure and instilled a new sense of direction focused on three major areas — talent, vision and mission.

First, he built a high-performing team. This included assuming the additional role of CEO. Today, Krach spends about 30 percent of his time focused on talent acquisition and fostering a culture of teamwork and accountability. Krach also understood that part of that included fostering a culture where giving back to the community was important.

Next, he created a clear vision to communicate to employees the future of the company: To transform the business world in how transactions are managed.

Finally, Krach created a new mission for DocuSign that was much broader than its initial focus: Develop and enable a platform where any confidential documents — not just real estate transactions — could be signed and transacted securely at any time on any device. He believed this could change the status quo of business transactions through a signature on a sheet of paper.

Convincing the public to adapt DocuSign’s solution was the biggest challenge Krach faced. But when he partnered with Salesforce.com to use DocuSign to transact test deals, the leadership team at Salesforce was so impressed that they invested financially and integrated the solution across its client base.

That move provided the spark Krach needed to reach a mass market, and today DocuSign serves more than 100,000 enterprise clients worldwide and more than 50 million individual users.

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Dylan Smith
co-founder and CFO

Dylan Smith, co-founder and CFO of Box, found his entrepreneurial spirit early. In high school, he started a tutoring service, and at Duke University, schoolwork took a back seat to starting new ventures like launching a loft-building business selling to incoming freshmen.

In Smith’s sophomore year at Duke, he and co-founder Aaron Levie, CEO, identified an opportunity in the online storage and sharing space, where there were few compelling options.

Box was the first company to syndicate files — file sharing across a server where the user can determine how the content is shared. They promoted their business via tech blogs and captured the attention of Mark Cuban, who ultimately offered them their first funding.

During the economic downturn, Smith was faced with not only having to lay off employees, but friends.

In 2011, Citrix sought to acquire Box, but Smith lead the charge to convince the board that Box had only scratched the surface of its potential.

As Box continued to move toward the vision of becoming a public company, Smith believed the company might need a more experienced CFO. As a testament to his value and the trust he had built, based on the feedback from investors, banks and Box individuals, the board voted to have Smith be the leader to get Box in a position for an IPO.

Box went public on Jan. 23, 2015, with Smith as the 29-year-old CFO.

As the company has grown, Smith has transitioned from being a player-coach to a leader-coach. He is focused on upgrading his team and removing obstacles.

Box places a premium on hiring and retaining top talent. Smith believes that having a top-level recruiter within the first 10 employees of a new company is key to building out a high performing workforce.

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Suhail Doshi

Mixpanel, founded in 2009 by CEO Suhail Doshi, has played a role in defining the market for analytics tools focused on mobile user behavior. It’s helping businesses grow by providing them with deep insights into user behavior and marketing effectiveness that trumps common metrics such as page views and downloads, which often fall short of gauging user engagement and can be misleading. Mixpanel’s analytics enables customers to make data-driven and data-informed decisions about their business and products by providing customers with useful metrics that equate to engagement.

Focusing solely on analytics, with particular attention paid to mobile since its inception, most of Mixpanels’s revenue has been generated through inbound sales leads as the company has forgone an outbound salesforce and does very little marketing. The company, with its 3,000 paying customers and analysis of over 43 billion data points and profiles every month, expects its revenue trajectory to continue and significantly increase in 2015.

Doshi is considered a charismatic and passionate leader who is driven and persistent in his efforts to accomplish Mixpanel’s goals. He spends a considerable amount of time recruiting top talent and on-boarding them to help the company scale and achieve its vision. Within the last year, Doshi hired a chief revenue officer from another fast-growing, Bay Area technology company. He has also recently hired vice presidents in critical areas of the company’s business, including in customer success and finance. Candidates are attracted to Mixpanel’s story and vision, and they stay because of the company’s close-knit culture.

While Doshi expects the company will continue to face difficulties because some of its competitors are of a much larger scale, he embraces these challenges and is focused on innovating Mixpanel’s current products and moving into new areas.

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 EMERGING, Award Recipient






Dheeraj Pandey
president and CEO
Nutanix, Inc.

Nutanix, Inc., headed by President and CEO Dheeraj Pandey, builds simple, powerful and flexible data centers for customers, allowing them to start with a few servers and scale to thousands.

Redefining the data center infrastructure and virtualization market is central to Pandey’s mission. He and his co-founders recognized that developers were moving to democratic infrastructures rather than monolithic boxes that can be expensive to procure and difficult to provision. Seeing this trend, Pandey tried to move his former company into the hyperconverged market, but met resistance. He then convinced his co-founders to quit their jobs and formed Nutanix in 2009.

Nutanix‘s simplified data center infrastructure uses integrated server and storage resources to form a turnkey appliance that is deployed quickly and runs any application at any scale. While the software solution is complex, its consumer-grade user interface is easy to use.

Significant barriers to entry have existed in the market. But accommodating customers’ current commitments to hardware providers and dated solutions allows Nutanix to make a value proposition that can be difficult to compete against.

After shipping its first Virtual Computing Platform in 2011, Nutanix now owns 52 percent of the rapidly growing hyperconverged infrastructure market. The product’s value to customers has also increased, as seen by its Net Promoter Score, which has grown from 72 just a couple of years ago to its most recent score of 88.

The company’s success can be attributed not only to disruptive technology, but also to its innovation in distribution strategy. It goes to market by leveraging value-added resellers, service providers and technology consultants. In addition, it has a relationship with original equipment manufacturers such as Dell to sell Nutanix software on its hardware. The strategy is an example of how Nutanix ensures the product experience is as strong as possible, while at the same time significantly accelerating its adoption.

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 EMERGING, Finalist






Rob Bearden
chairman and CEO
Hortonworks, Inc.

When Rob Bearden joined Hortonworks, Inc., a publicly traded open source software company, he set out to equip enterprise organizations with a means to tackle their big data challenges and seize opportunities. Bearden, chairman and CEO, recognized that in today’s world data management could not architecturally or financially be captured, stored, processed and analyzed in the same way that legacy transactional data had been. The legacy software model was insufficient for keeping up with the growing data management demands.

To solve these challenges, a fundamentally new architectural approach was required. His vision was subscription-based open source software where customers can customize their IT infrastructure. He believed that enterprises needed to transform their business model from being reactive to their customers post-transaction to being interactive with customers pre-transaction, which required a new way to manage and integrate different forms of data including social media, click stream, Web logs, financial transactions, videos and machine sensor data. Apache Hadoop became the framework that would solve this problem.

His initiative was started at a time where Hadoop was not accepted commercially as an enterprise-grade platform. So while Bearden realized the value Hadoop could bring to enterprise organizations, he knew he couldn’t do it alone. He identified the key founders/architects of Hadoop inside Yahoo!, and convinced Yahoo!’s co-founder, Jerry Yang, that the optimal approach was to spinoff more than 20 of Yahoo!’s core Hadoop engineers and create the only 100 percent open source Hadoop software company focused on enterprise customers.

Four years later, Hortonworks’ Hadoop platform has enabled leading enterprise organizations to leverage their data assets and become more agile, efficient and ultimately more proactive with their customers. The company successfully completed its IPO in December 2014, and is adding more new customers per quarter than any other Hadoop company.

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 EMERGING, finalist






Todd McKinnon
co-founder and CEO

With the motto, “Wildly successful customers lead to a wildly successful Okta,” Todd McKinnon, CEO and co-founder of the integrated identity management service, met with hundreds of CIOs to better understand their challenges with well-established identity management vendors. He discovered those vendors could not deliver solutions designed for cloud and mobile technologies, so he built a cloud-based service that addressed these concerns.

The former head of engineering at Salesforce.com witnessed the initial emergence of the cloud application market while overseeing the teams that focused on cloud applications. He also saw the lack of existing competition and left his position at Salesforce with a mockup and business plan to make his way in the market of cloud identity management, a market that at the time didn’t exist.

Analysts and market experts told McKinnon the venture was foolish, but he had the foresight to see that he could take what was traditionally on-site infrastructure and identity management and offer it as a service as if it were a business application. Competition began to arise, which was hugely positive as it legitimized his vision of cloud-based identity management. Okta could now move away from a focus on proving its value towards maximizing its potential.

As CEO, McKinnon focused first on providing an end-to-end solution that has coverage over any service a customer wants to deploy and manage on its platform. He then worked to provide the highest number and most in-depth integrations, which it achieved through its growing partner base of companies that include Adobe, ServiceNow and Advent, which are fully integrating Okta into their products. Finally, Okta focused on making its customers highly successful. To this end, Okta reaches for the highest level of customer service to garner the trust of customers and ensure the full potential of its products are being realized.

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Jean-Jacques Bienaimé
chairman and CEO
BioMarin Pharmaceutical

After Jean-Jacques Bienaimé joined BioMarin Pharmaceutical as chairman and CEO in 2005, BioMarin brought four of its five products for patients with rare genetic diseases to market. Every product under Bienaimé’s leadership has been approved in the U.S., Europe and beyond.

The company has been able to get drugs to market in less than five years by focusing on very severe disorders. This is significantly faster than the industry standard, and has been done at a fraction of the cost for most biopharmaceutical products.

It was a tumultuous time when Bienaimé joined BioMarin. There was a proxy fight to replace three of the board of directors, BioMarin was running out of cash and the company’s stock was performing poorly.

The outlook was grim, but Bienaimé believed the business just needed better management.

Bienaimé let go of the entire commercial organization that at the time made up one-third of the company, hired a chief commercial officer so the chief medical officer could focus on clinical development and terminated many stalled R&D programs.

Although BioMarin had no international operations, Bienaimé convinced the board to fight to keep the worldwide rights to Naglazyme, the first drug he helped launch. Today, 85 percent of the sales of Naglazyme, the company’s biggest selling product, come from outside the U.S.

Within that first year, Bienaimé oversaw the corporate reorganization, Naglazyme’s launch and a round of equity financing.

The company is built on delivering products that have a large impact on a small patient population, the opposite of most big pharmaceutical companies. Bienaimé has a keen sense of which molecules have long-term potential, allowing the company to streamline development efforts.

Today, BioMarin has a pipeline with 10 products in clinical development, and two to three of those products are expected to gain regulatory approval in the next few years.

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James Schoeneck
president and CEO
Depomed, Inc.

James Schoeneck hit the ground running when he took over as president and CEO at Depomed, Inc., a company that needed to change its ways in a hurry from focusing on research and development to becoming a commercial pharmaceutical business.

Schoeneck set an aggressive five-year goal that represented a significant shift in strategy. Though not all board members supported the new direction initially, Schoeneck’s leadership and charisma sparked a fire in Depomed employees. The opportunities he could see in the company began to come to fruition.

He speaks with admiration and respect for the legal team Depomed has developed and the unbelievably challenging trials faced by the sales and marketing leaders. Schoeneck measures success by more than just financial growth.

He pushes the company to meet strategic goals, grow its expertise in the field and ensure long-term plans are in place instead of short-term financial gain.

Schoeneck’s leadership style is exemplified by a conversation he had with a sales consultant who was preparing to leave the company. They talked philosophy, and hashed out goals and the framework of a corporate culture that they wanted to see. They also thought about components that would breed success and foster growth in the business.

In the end, Schoeneck convinced the man, who ultimately become the vice president of sales, to stay.

Schoeneck thrives where others struggle to see the path.

When he arrived at Depomed, the company had only one product, Glumetza, which brought in minimal royalty income. A lot of companies in a similar situation might buy a drug, increase the price and then resell it for the short-term benefit.

Schoeneck demonstrated a different approach that can be tied back to the company’s belief in adding value to the health care marketplace. The company actually grows its products, focusing on operations and not just looking for pure financial gain.

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Edward Lanphier
president and CEO
Sangamo BioSciences, Inc.

Edward Lanphier, president and CEO of Sangamo BioSciences, Inc., has a vision for engineering cures for debilitating and often fatal diseases. The potential cures are being engineered at the microscopic level through genome editing and gene therapy. If successful, these cures could replace current treatments for these diseases, which rely on a lifetime of enzyme replacement therapy.

Sangamo’s approach to gene therapy involves the use of zinc finger DNA binding proteins to re-engineer a gene. The ZFPs act as a switch for gene regulation, which allows a specific area within a gene to be targeted and replaced with a ZFP. When those altered genes replicate they pass on the change provided by the ZFP, correcting any mistakes in them that otherwise would have given rise to various diseases. Sangamo has incorporated the delivery methods used in cell therapy with a new process of engineering ZFPs to directly target specific areas of genes and modify them without altering other areas of the gene.

Replicating the protected genotype of people who are immune to HIV/AIDS, Sangamo has put the beneficial immunity into people infected with HIV through ZFPs. Sangamo achieved very favorable results in its phase one clinical testing and is now in phase two.

The company’s pharmaceutical partnerships include Biogen Idec and Shire International GmbH, with which Sangamo is developing potentially curative treatments for beta thalassemia, sickle cell disease, hemophilia, Huntington’s disease and other genetic diseases. Multiple delivery methods for precisely targeting a genetic defect are being studied for various diseases, with a focus on commercial and medical utility.

Lanphier’s financial leadership has resulted in the company maintaining a strong balance sheet over its 20 years of existence. Sangamo has executed a diversified business model of out-licensing noncore assets, strategic industry collaborations and proprietary programs designed to maximize the value of the ZFP platform.

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 NETWORKING, Award Recipient





Jayshree Ullal
president and CEO





Andy Bechtolsheim
founder, chief development officer and chairman
Arista Networks

Andy Bechtolsheim is no stranger to the high-tech world. As the founder of Sun Microsystems, Granite Systems and Kealia, Bechtolsheim’s Arista Networks benefits from his keen understanding of what it takes to succeed in today’s Silicon Valley climate: an autonomous and nimble organization that can quickly adapt to effectively compete against well-established industry giants like Cisco Systems.

Bechtolsheim co-founded Arista Networks with David Cheriton in 2004. The company provides networking solutions, and the pair financed the business primarily with their own money.

The financial structure allowed them to spend the company’s early years making their own decisions on growth initiatives without worrying about any outside capital oversight.

This philosophy led to the development of Arista’s signature product, Arista Extensible Operating System — considered by many to be the most programmable networking software stack on the market.

In 2008, Bechtolsheim made another critical decision: He hired Jayshree Ullal as Arista’s president and CEO, allowing him to think solely about improving the company’s solutions.

Under Ullal’s direction, the company evolved quickly. She guided Arista to early profitability, massive growth and an IPO in 2014 — infusing new cash into the company as it continued its global expansion.

As Arista grows in the fiercely competitive cloud networking market, Ullal remains steadfast in her belief about what matters most at Arista — dedicated and innovative employees. She views talent acquisition as the most important ingredient, and one of the biggest potential obstacles to the company’s continued success.

To that end, she puts a premium on culture and ensures that the traits Bechtolsheim, who serves as chief development officer and chairman, established when he founded Arista continue well into the future — an entrepreneurial environment and a creative mindset that results in innovation and a competitive spirit.

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David Ulevitch
founder and CEO

David Ulevitch, founder and CEO of the network security and delivered network security services company OpenDNS, began his Internet career early in life. Before entering high school, Ulevitch worked for a regional Internet service provider. Later, he worked at MP3.com, starting as an intern and eventually working in the content development department during the company’s explosive growth period between 1999 and 2000.

Ulevitch learned about technical support, programming and system administration as well as dealing with customer relations and the hiring process. Most important, he learned that the bad guys need to know only one way to get into an organization’s computer, but the good guys have to know all the ways to stop them.

During his freshman year at Washington University in St. Louis, Ulevitch started EveryDNS to fill the need for Web-based DNS management and help people with domain names. To generate revenue, he set up a donation mechanism on the company’s website. EveryDNS grew from a personal project to a service with nearly 100,000 users worldwide. By the time Ulevitch finished college, EveryDNS was supporting him financially.

Today, OpenDNS offers the largest cloud-DNS service in the world. It delivers predictive security that blocks malware, botnets and phishing threats on any device and detects targeted attacks. Using big data, natural language processing and machine learning techniques, OpenDNS identifies attacks in their formative stages and blocks threats before they impact customers. The company‘s predictive threat intelligence anticipates and blocks attacks before they impact customers, and its unique security platform enables customers to seamlessly integrate threat intelligence from multiple vendors and then use that information to automatically protect users outside the corporate network.

The engineering team at OpenDNS continues to deliver the safest Internet experience possible for its more than 10,000 enterprise customers, including many of the Fortune 50, and each of its 60 million users.

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Selina Lo
president and CEO
Ruckus Wireless

When Selina Lo reviewed the early stage business plan for Ruckus Wireless, she immediately told the founders that they were heading down a path with significant competition, shrinking margins and limited scale. She suggested a change of direction to enterprise Wi-Fi instead of consumer Wi-Fi. She argued that enterprise IT managers often did not fully understand the technology, which led to critical business problems with stability and user consistency. Her ability to recognize a demand that Ruckus could fill changed the path of the company that she came to lead as president and CEO. The supplier of advanced wireless systems for the mobile Internet infrastructure market now has over 48,000 end-customers worldwide and the enterprise market estimated to grow around 20 percent annually.

Innovation has been a large part of the foundation of Lo’s success. She has been able to identify an unseen purpose, and even repurpose products and ideas that don’t appear to have strong market potential. Pairing this with her knowledge of the industry and markets has helped mitigate the risk associated with such change.

While some firms differentiate themselves by being the largest in their market, Ruckus strives to be the last company standing in its industry. The company’s customer-focused strategy realized through its proven response time and personalized client service can be seen as its biggest competitive advantage. Ruckus has learned about its consumers and grown by meeting their changing needs.

Similarly, Lo has made a successful career out of her ability to continually learn and grow from her experiences. She remains humble in the face of the many challenges of being a leader. Recognizing her own limitations, she accepts that no one is perfect and takes the necessary steps to fill in the gaps where needed.

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John Foraker
Annie’s, Inc.

When John Foraker joined Annie’s, Inc. in 1998, he saw much more than an organic mac and cheese company — he saw an opportunity to develop a mainstream brand that could flourish through unique connections with consumers.

Foraker’s vision was to infuse a personal touch into the brand — that of a mother’s love for and connection with her children.

At the time, Annie’s was a small yet growing company trying to find its way. Its products were regulated to the natural food and organic aisle, a product placement decision by retailers, which limited growth potential. Foraker, CEO, recognized that if he could effectively change consumers’ attitudes and create a bond between them and the company, he could pitch a new message to retailers and convince them to shift Annie’s products to the main aisles.

His plan worked, and over the next few years, retailers started looking at Annie’s differently. They moved the company’s growing product line to the main aisles, which sparked significant growth.

Foraker’s efforts led to unexpected consequences: Because retailers suddenly saw organic food through a different lens, the shift in product placement signaled the transition of organic foods from a niche product to a more mainstream consumer category — and Annie’s was leading the way.

This attracted the attention of Solera Capital, which in 2002 acquired a controlling interest in Annie’s. With a cash infusion, Annie’s went into hypergrowth mode. Then, in 2012, after a decade of expansion, Foraker took the company public. Two years later, after two more stellar years of growth, General Mills acquired the company for nearly three times per share more than its IPO price.

Today, Annie’s is a standalone division of General Mills, and Foraker continues to find new ways for Annie’s to innovate and foster its strong bond with consumers.

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John Harman
founder and CEO
Balsam Brands

Few people have the wherewithal — or constitution — to dream up, organize and go to market with an idea in just four months. Fewer still are willing to bet the house on their ability to succeed. But that’s what Thomas Harman did in 2006 when he founded Balsam Brands.

In March, Harman, CEO, decided he wanted to create ultra-realistic artificial Christmas trees and retail the products exclusively online. In June, he flew to China to design and order the company’s first collection of trees, partnered with a third-party distribution network, established a customer service center and launched the company’s website.

By mid-January 2007, Harman’s idea had become a viable business: He had sold thousands of trees, been featured in national publications and became profitable — all before realistic artificial trees were popular and without any experience in décor, design or online retail.

But Harman wasn’t interested in becoming the next big fad. He wanted to create a sustainable business model that could flex and grow. His goal was to establish Balsam Brands as a national brand, using the Internet effectively to amplify the company’s marketing efforts and contain its hard costs.

He spent the next several years designing and patenting new types of Christmas trees, benchmarking competitors and traveling the globe in search of new inspiration. Harman invested in dynamic consumer website experiences and sophisticated branding. He also developed a flexible staffing model by co-founding an independent third-party customer service company that seasonally scales the team serving Balsam from 10 to more than 200.

Today, Harman’s vision has expanded well beyond trees. Balsam has become the go-to retailer of holiday décor and entertaining products, such as tree skirts, ornaments, snow globes and nutcrackers; and even extended into other sectors such as fall harvest foliage, fireplace screens and hearth accessories, candlelight and outdoor entertainment.

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Richard R. Norgrove
president and CEO
Bear Republic Brewing Company

When Richard R. Norgrove came out of semi-retirement in 1995 to co-found Bear Republic Brewing Company with his son and their respective wives, he had no experience in the then-nascent craft brewing industry. But Norgrove trusted the various lessons he learned during his 20-plus years of experience in the corporate world and the hunch he and his son had about the industry’s potential.

Rather than rely solely upon the success of the brewery — and be at the mercy of wholesalers and consumers who might or might not accept micro-brewed beer — Norgrove opened a brewpub. His goal was to use the brewpub as an outlet to help educate consumers and wholesalers, directly answering questions about what craft beer was through a highly trained staff and top-notch product.

Norgrove’s strategy was effective. Because of his two-pronged approach, the Bear Republic concept — and its craft-brewed beer — took off. Today, Bear Republic employs more than 150 people, including seven additional family members.

Beyond its high-quality beer, Norgrove, who serves as president and CEO, attributes Bear Republic’s success to the company’s inclusive culture.

Employee meetings and one-on-ones with key employees are interactive, creating opportunities to provide ideas and interact with the four owners. He regularly communicates direction and growth of the company, as well as major changes, in an open format where employees are able to understand how they’re personally impacted. And twice monthly on Fridays, employees are served a barbecue lunch where activities are communicated, keeping employees informed on the future vision for the company and its effect on individual positions.

Norgrove’s commitment to fostering this culture has led to strong employee longevity, with several employees working at Bear Republic for more than 10 years. The company also has been named a “best place to work” in the North Bay area.

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 SERVICES, Award Recipient





Kenneth Lin
founder and CEO
Credit Karma

Kenneth Lin saw opportunity in a crowded market space by bringing trust to an industry where consumers were frustrated and distrustful of the existing players.

In 2007, when he founded Credit Karma, his goal was to do what others said they would, but didn’t — offer free credit information. Lin sought to establish new levels of transparency for consumers who wanted to take control of their financial health without forcing them to pay fees or deal with small-print conditions. If they had better access to this information, he believed, he could use its members’ credit profiles to match them with better financial services products, which would in turn help banks target more relevant consumers and eliminate waste from their marketing budgets.

Lin’s timing couldn’t have been better. Credit Karma’s site went live in 2008, the same year the bottom fell out of the economy and consumers’ access to credit — along with their ratings — plummeted as the U.S. economy fell into a deep and long-lasting recession.

For consumers, this economic sea change meant that through Credit Karma they could access for free the information they needed to monitor their financial situation. For lenders, who were suddenly tightening credit and implementing more stringent conditions, better match services were an instant necessity in order to keep the pipelines filled with viable customers.

Since those early days, Lin, the company’s CEO, has expanded Credit Karma’s portfolio. Today, the company offers credit report cards, a credit advice center, financial product reviews, auto insurance scores, free credit monitoring, a range of mobile apps, a free credit report and, as of December 2014, credit information from a second bureau.

Financial services providers have the flexibility now to hypertarget their products to suitable consumers, and that’s provided a dynamic and growing revenue stream for Lin’s company and its 35 million members who use Credit Karma. 

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 SERVICES, Finalist






Kathy Johnson
Home Care Assistance

Kathy Johnson, Ph.D., CEO of Home Care Assistance, founded the company in 2002 to provide seniors with a safe, healthy life at home. The formation of the company came out of her experience trying to find care for her own aging parents, both of whom were bed ridden at the time. Unable to find a company that she felt comfortable trusting her parents to, she recognized the opportunity in the market to provide something better.

Home Care Assistance differentiates itself with its tested proprietary and patented methods for a holistic approach to the care of each person’s mental, spiritual and physical well-being. A handpicked research and development team has created a framework to address dementia and Alzheimer’s, implementing exercises that aim to curb the rate of these mental diseases.

One such program Johnson initiated to improve the brain health of older adults is the Cognitive Therapeutics Method™, a research-based activities program performed one-on-one in the home that helps seniors promote cognitive vitality and stave off mental decline. After two years of research, the program has proven successful in promoting the cognitive vitality of seniors. The company also offers its proprietary Balanced Care Method™, a science-based approach to promoting healthy activity, stress reduction and social interaction for older adults.

Johnson’s investment in advancing positive aging has led her to greater contributions to communities on the national and local level. She has co-authored seven books in Home Care Assistance’s Healthy Longevity Book Series with topics ranging from improved sleep and brain health for older adults to dementia care, post-hospitalization care and live-in care for seniors and their families. Over the past 13 years, she and her company have sponsored numerous resource fairs and events for seniors and participated in local community foundations that address the needs of the aging population.

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 SERVICES, Award Recipient






Mary C. Kariotis
president and CEO
Merrimak Capital Company LLC

As president and CEO of Merrimak Capital Company LLC, Mary C. Kariotis has added over 55 Fortune 500-type accounts and developed a growth trend that could be considered enviable among companies of its type. She has taken the business of equipment leasing and asset recovery and has made each contract specific and tailored to the customer, working with each customer to find innovative ways to save them money while driving Merrimak’s bottom-line revenue.

To do this, she employs open, transparent dialogue in which each party is able to trust that the business partner is acting in their best interest. Kariotis works tirelessly to build these kinds of trusting relationships, and bases her success on their development.

Kariotis took the helm of the company she helped build in the 1990s. One of the biggest challenges she faced during her seven-year tenure happened at the very beginning as she worked to restructure the company to become less dependent on contractor revenue. When she assumed the role of CEO, over half of its lease origination volume came from contractors, which took 40 to 50 percent of the earned revenue for the deals supplied. Kariotis believed this wasn’t sustainable from a revenue or contract standpoint.

Her vision was to have complete transparency from the deals they made with their customers, leaving out the hidden terms and conditions, small print and contingencies that could lead to customers second-guessing the deals. She followed a what-you-see-is-what-you-get philosophy that meant no hidden fees or clauses. That strategy led to 40 percent year-over-year growth.

Kariotis makes quick, difficult decisions, tapping her experience to avoid pitfalls that often beset young companies. She has high expectations for her company and its employees, but even higher expectations for herself. Kariotis cares about the employees she works with and spends time developing their careers as well as the business she runs.

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 SOFTWARE, Award Recipient





Marcus Ryu
co-founder, president and CEO
Guidewire Software, Inc.

When Marcus Ryu and five colleagues started Guidewire Software, Inc., they were driven to create a company that would apply technology to seemingly intractable problems, build quality products, do right by their customers and be a meaningful place for people to spend their careers. The company focused on serving the property and casualty insurance industry, creating a modular core system suite that enabled insurers to replace their mainframe-based legacy systems with upgradeable, modular software that allows customers to deploy it in an incremental fashion by functional area and region.

As chief executive, president and co-founder, Ryu has been the driving force behind strategic decisions that have helped shape the company’s success. Those include moving from a single-product company to one that provides multiple products and ultimately a platform; and acquiring Millbrook, Inc. — the company’s first acquisition — which helped Guidewire transition an area of relative weakness in its products into a strength.

The company’s model for charging for its software was innovative when first launched. Today, its product strategy has evolved to help insurers engage digitally with their customers and agents across the insurance life cycle and the need to make better use of data and analytics to streamline decision-making and make better predictions.

Guidewire’s culture is directly related to the values of its co-founders and is based on three basic principles: 1. Value integrity, always tell the truth when communicating with customers, prospective customers, partners, investors and each other. 2. Be dedicated to rationality, strive to communicate through clear arguments and make decisions carefully on the basis of factual evidence. 3. Prize collegiality, work together as professional equals with a minimum of hierarchy.

In the years ahead, the company plans to round out its current product portfolio by offering more extensive support across the insurance life cycle.

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 SOFTWARE, Finalist






Jyoti Bansal
founder and CEO

At 22, Jyoti Bansal borrowed $150 from his father to move to Silicon Valley and launch his career in the tech world.

Seven years later, he quit his job as a software engineer and began pitching venture capitalists for funding to start his own company — AppDynamics.

His idea for a highly flexible and adaptive software that relied on what he called “application intelligence” was met with skepticism, but Bansal, who serves as CEO, persevered. He spent his nights developing the technology and days meeting with venture capitalists in search of the right partners who could share his vision.

Greylock Partners and LightSpeed Venture Partners “got” Bansal’s concept and became early stage investors. The technology swiftly caught on, and companies that relied on portfolios of very complex applications tied to billions of dollars in revenue saw how AppDynamics’ disruptive software could help them.

Today, six years after its founding, Bansal’s company is among the fastest-growing technology companies in the world — employing more than 600 people in offices across 12 countries that serve more than 1,700 customers worldwide.

One of the keys to Bansal’s success has been his unwavering devotion to customer service, which led to the creation of the company’s Enterprise Customer Success 2.0 program, which ties incentives to customer satisfaction. As a result, AppDynamics’ Net Promoter Score of 87 ranks a staggering 68 points above the industry average NPS of 19.

Another key to success has been his ability to adapt the company’s organizational structure as the company has grown. He organized the product and engineering groups into nine innovation teams, each comprised of 30 people. Each team is essentially a startup within the company and reports on revenue, customers and progress of initiatives. Each group is empowered to create its own operations and programmatic style, which allows them to eliminate red tape and continue the company’s disruptive innovation model.

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 SOFTWARE, Finalist






Kirk Krappe
founder and CEO

Kirk Krappe’s moment of realization came after spending half a day apologizing to customers that the product he had sold them didn’t work as promised. At the time, he was employed with a large public company as the head of sales and marketing.

Krappe eventually quit his job and in 2006 co-founded Apttus with two like-minded people who believed that whatever a company sold better work and bring value to its customers.

As a long-time software industry veteran, Krappe understood the pros and cons of a new high-tech startup. He knew if they could focus on building and creating the right app — one that automated contract life cycle management — they could bypass some of the pitfalls by partnering with another company to host, manage and deliver the product to consumers.

Krappe, CEO, forged a deal with Salesforce.com to build the company’s application solutions on its platform, making Apttus the first company to build exclusively this way. This allowed Krappe and his team to spend their time on development and testing, without worrying about whether the delivery method or app management would fail once deployed.

Krappe’s vision for this unique relationship gave Apttus a built-in customer base that could seamlessly integrate its solutions into existing Salesforce applications. It also gave Krappe the freedom to probe its then-growing client base for ways to stretch, extend and expand the initial product solutions.

As a result, Apttus essentially established the Quote-to-Cash and Configure-Price-Quoting category that existing Salesforce customers use today. Apttus has become the top tool for automating and optimizing sales processes for organization that use Salesforce and counts 70 members of the Fortune 500 among its client roster.

And, because of Krappe’s customer-centric model, Apttus has a 96 percent annual renewal rate for its solutions — among the highest in the industry.

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 TECHNOLOGY, Award Recipient





Paul Nahi
president and CEO
Enphase Energy

Paul Nahi does not have his own office at Enphase Energy. Rather, he and the rest of his management team sit in cubicles right alongside the company’s other employees. Nahi, president and CEO, strongly believes that not having individual offices promotes a culture where there are no boundaries between departments. It allows for the cross-pollination of ideas and a greater feeling of camaraderie across all levels and functions.

The philosophy is incorporated into every aspect of the design of the office, from the location of the coffee machine to the completely transparent boardroom and meeting rooms. For a CEO who believes that passion is one of the most important ingredients of his company’s success, open communication is crucial.

The passion and empowerment has led to a young, very successful business, but it wasn’t always easy. When Nahi and Enphase’s co-founders began to discuss their microinverters with the solar energy community, they were told their idea was impossible and that they were going to fail.

Nahi and the others disagreed, and others were soon attempting to replicate Enphase’s technology. But they all failed to duplicate the company’s combination of technology and execution.

The industry Enphase works in is dynamic and always changing — the future of solar power remains an unknown or, as Nahi describes it, “opaque.” To manage this risk, he and his team are constantly analyzing the market and trends. Their current focus is solar, but the larger strategy is inherent in the company’s name — Enphase Energy.

Nahi would like to move beyond just solar power and become an energy innovator that will include technology in energy management and energy storage.

The key to making that happen will be maintaining a culture that encourages collaboration and an attitude that failure is OK if it ultimately leads to a better outcome.

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Conor Madigan, Ph.D.
president and co-founder

Conor Madigan, Ph.D., president and co-founder of Kateeva, realized that while organic light emitting diodes were a great concept, manufacturing OLED devices cost effectively was extremely difficult. Seeing an opportunity, Madigan pioneered the development of an inkjet system that would drive down production costs. The company’s lack of operating history coupled with a radically new technology, however, made the negotiations with large customers extremely difficult.

Kateeva’s product helps large manufacturers use OLED technology to develop flat panel displays for cellphones, televisions, lighting panels, printed circuit boards and thin film solar panels that are super-thin, bendable and unbreakable. OLED material, however, is sensitive to water, solvent, oxygen and moisture, and may not survive the traditional process of printing. In order to solve this problem, the company built an IP portfolio around printing in a super-pure environment of nitrogen.

As the company neared the time to commercialize its application, Madigan stepped down as CEO and brought in an external CEO with experience in capital equipment commercialization who could manage sales support and finance functions. Madigan took control of product development, strategic and technical marketing, business development, IP portfolio management and HR. He embraced an outsource manufacturing model to ensure Kateeva could focus on product development rather than diverting the scarce capital to setting up capital-intensive manufacturing plants.

Funding challenges during the recession brought Kateeva to the brink of collapse. Madigan, through strong leadership, was able to convince his investors to continue their support and his employees not to leave. These actions enabled Kateeva to win the business of some of the largest Asian display manufacturing companies, such as Samsung and LG. Today, Kateeva is the leading supplier of inkjet equipment for OLED mass production, with operations in Silicon Valley, Korea and China.

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Peter Arvai
co-founder and CEO

Paul Nahi does not have his own office at Enphase Energy. Rather, he and the rest of his management team sit in cubicles right alongside the company’s other employees. Nahi, president and CEO, strongly believes that not having individual offices promotes a culture where there are no boundaries between departments. It allows for the cross-pollination of ideas and a greater feeling of camaraderie across all levels and functions.

The philosophy is incorporated into every aspect of the design of the office, from the location of the coffee machine to the completely transparent boardroom and meeting rooms. For a CEO who believes that passion is one of the most important ingredients of his company’s success, open communication is crucial.

The passion and empowerment has led to a young, very successful business, but it wasn’t always easy. When Nahi and Enphase’s co-founders began to discuss their microinverters with the solar energy community, they were told their idea was impossible and that they were going to fail.

Nahi and the others disagreed, and others were soon attempting to replicate Enphase’s technology. But they all failed to duplicate the company’s combination of technology and execution.

The industry Enphase works in is dynamic and always changing — the future of solar power remains an unknown or, as Nahi describes it, “opaque.” To manage this risk, he and his team are constantly analyzing the market and trends. Their current focus is solar, but the larger strategy is inherent in the company’s name — Enphase Energy.

Nahi would like to move beyond just solar power and become an energy innovator that will include technology in energy management and energy storage.

The key to making that happen will be maintaining a culture that encourages collaboration and an attitude that failure is OK if it ultimately leads to a better outcome.

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How to partner technology with best practices to create a first-rate process

Tom DeMetrovich, Director, Crowe Horwath LLP

Tom DeMetrovich, Director, Crowe Horwath LLP

Recently a number of corporate tax and accounting professionals were surveyed to gain insight into their tax provision process. They identified three major issues with their provision process:

  • Data collection — the provision model does not contain all of the required financial information.
  • Resource constraints — the tax provision process is very labor intensive.
  • Timing — more than half the companies surveyed reported that they have less than one week to prepare their consolidated tax provision.

The survey clearly demonstrates the need for automation. Corporate tax executives understand an automated system provides the standardized platform to consolidate data, eliminate many of their manual processes and be more time effective.

Tom DeMetrovich, director at Crowe Horwath LLP, says the survey results are indicative of the challenges faced by most corporate tax departments.

“Responsibilities are increasing and staffing trends generally are flat,” he says. “Implementing a Web-based software tool, such as the Thompson Reuters ONESOURCE Tax Provision, can be the solution that most corporate tax departments are seeking.”

Smart Business spoke with DeMetrovich about automating the tax provision process and the capabilities provided by a software solution to address the three major concerns expressed in the survey.

How can an automated solution assist with data collection?

An automated solution allows a company to consolidate the majority of its data into one platform. The software can interface with the existing accounting or financial reporting system and upload the required financial information. The software also is able to roll data forward from period to period. There’s no need to manually update and reconcile multiple Excel schedules for the new year or roll forward Excel workbooks. This functionality significantly reduces time spent gathering data and eliminates many of the errors in the current process.

How can an automated solution assist with resource constraints and timing?

Reducing the need for manual processes frees up corporate resources to handle more strategic, higher value tasks, leading to increased review time and increased time for analysis and forecasting.

An efficient, automated solution also reduces the time needed for processing the provision. The system allows multiple users to access and update the provision calculation in a controlled, secure environment. Therefore, the provision calculation is done more timely and accurately, which allows additional time for analysis, adjustments and reporting.

Can the software be implemented in-house?

Companies rarely implement a provision system in-house. The project generally is undertaken in conjunction with an outside provider, whether an accounting firm or the software provider. Tax departments have knowledge of their current provision process but lack the depth of knowledge necessary to select, install, configure and train their personnel on the new software.

The benefit of using an accounting firm for implementation is that the firm provides in-depth knowledge of the software and has broad-based knowledge of tax and the provision process. The company also has access to the accounting firm’s knowledge of its industry. The firm can:

  • Align software to the company’s current processes.
  • Make sure processes are correct from a technical tax standpoint.
  • Use industry knowledge to provide best practices that can be incorporated into the new automated process.

Once implemented, can tax departments manage the software without assistance?

Once the software has been properly installed, configured, tested and training has been completed, the tax department staff should be able to maintain the software. One of the biggest benefits to a Web-based solution is that the company’s internal IT group rarely has to be involved. Software updates are handled directly by the software provider. And, the tax department will be able to handle updates for changes in general ledger accounts, the addition of new entities and other enterprise-wide changes.

Tom DeMetrovich is a director at Crowe Horwath LLP. Reach him at (214) 777-5272 or [email protected]


More information on tax provision automation.


Insights Accounting is brought to you by Crowe Horwath LLP

How client records, software and the Internet have intertwined

Todd Jolicoeur, Tax Senior, Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC

Todd Jolicoeur, Tax Senior, Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC

In a world where electronic data transfer is becoming the accepted norm, the definitions of such terms as “books of original entry” and “data set” are constantly changing. Check ledgers are being replaced by backup files and seven-column pads by accounting software. Some remote accounting and data storage systems, often referred to as cloud accounting, are virtual in nature.

Smart Business spoke with Todd Jolicoeur, tax senior at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC, to learn more about how technology has affected age-old accounting tools.

What are books of original entry?

When it comes to accounting that still utilizes column paper and a 10-key calculator, the accounting journals kept manually where any financial transaction are recorded for the first time, or originally, are the books of original entry that compile all of the information.

How has this changed with the use of accounting software?

Software has increased the efficiency of most accounting and tax services. Electronic books of entry are different because most data is entered only once. There is no longer the need to make sure each transaction is manually posted to each applicable journal. Because of the nature of software, this procedure is systematically performed and entries are automatically reflected in different accounting ledgers as pre-established by the software.

What is a data set when applied to accounting records?

The data set is essentially all of the information that supports an accounting statement, whether it is a balance sheet, bank reconciliation or general ledger. It is also the documentation that is often used by accountants to prepare other financial statements such as a Statement of Financial Condition or by tax professionals who perform tax services for individuals, fiduciaries and business entities.

One important note related to data sets is that the information contained within the data set is subject to subpoena when legal action is brought under suspicion of wrongdoing regarding finance and financial records.

How is the information stored for these data sets?

The oldest method is paper format. This includes things like checkbooks, receipts and other documentation. The prevailing new method is maintaining the records electronically. Firms are often digitizing and electronically storing any original documents required to perform accounting and tax services. Regarding electronic books of entry, firms have been transitioning for years to accounting software. The use of software not only expedites the work flow by requiring single entry of information, which flows to all appropriate journals and reports, but also when corrections are required you only need to make one correction, as opposed to making that same correction on several ledgers. Accounting records that are kept utilizing software are also easier to backup and create a copy of the data set for transfer to any parties that are authorized to receive such records.

What is cloud accounting?

The term simply refers to the remote storage of this information, as if it were stored in a cloud in the sky that can always be accessed. This is a relatively new concept that it is becoming more popular with the proliferation of technological gadgets. The use of electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets in business has increased the need for information to be stored on servers that allow for remote use. Whether this means using apps and remote connection to financial reports or accessing archived data and documentation, the need to use the Internet and these cloud resources is growing.

How can these changes in the process help my business?

You may want to speak with an accounting professional to determine the most advantageous way to perform your accounting function and store information as it relates to your needs for information recall and use.

Todd Jolicoeur is a tax senior at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC. Reach him at (248) 540-5760 or [email protected]


Cendrowski Corporate Advisors blog: Learn more from the experts on business accounting topics.


Insights Accounting is brought to you by Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC

How electronic grants management systems assist with the grants life cycle process

James Joseph, vice president, government services, HTC Global Services.

Joseph Rodrigues, director, projects – Electronic Grants Management and Administration System, HTC Global Services.

The federal government provided $600 billion in grants in 2011 for more than 1,000 programs. It takes considerable time and paperwork to apply for and monitor these grants, which is where a grants management system can help keep everything organized and on track.

“Automation really allows grant-giving organizations to focus more on the actual content and performance of the grant rather than get bogged down in the administrative and manual tasks of the grant process,” says Joseph Rodrigues, director, projects – Electronic Grants Management and Administration System at HTC Global Services.

Smart Business spoke with Rodrigues and James Joseph, vice president, government services, at HTC Global Services, about grant management systems and the advantages of automating the grant process.

What are the benefits of automated grants management?

Among the benefits of automation, the most important is that the grant administration staff can provide quality services to their grantees and focus their efforts on the core aspects of grants performance and monitoring as opposed to spending considerable time on administrative tasks, such as paper management, manual verification and validation. The second most important benefit is timely completion of the various steps in the grant life cycle process. Other benefits include consolidated repository of grants data that enables timely and effective information retrieval, analysis and reports.

Automated review process enables accuracy and consistency of reviews across reviewers. Automation of post award processes and notification ensure compliance and timeliness.

What are the challenges faced by grantors in automation of grants?

The biggest challenge is to find a truly configurable grants management software that can be configured to automate all the grant programs in an agency. Most grant giving agencies give out multiple grant programs that have varied requirements in terms of regulations and business rules. Most grant automation products available may address a specific grant program or a specific kind of business rule set. The most cost effective and efficient solution is configurable software that can automate all the programs that an organization has to offer through configuration rather than expensive and time consuming customization.

How does automation benefit grant applicants?

The biggest challenge that grantees face is submission of a complete and error-free grant application by the submission deadline. This is enabled through an online application that is intuitive, has context-sensitive help and validation features with recommended corrective actions.

An automated system assists grantees in identifying potential grant opportunities, based on eligibility. The application process enables multiple grantee staff to work on the same application, thus facilitating collaboration. In addition, it also provides transparency of status, online progress reporting and improved communication and responsiveness.

Good automation software is user friendly, does not require any third party software or plugins and caters to all levels of computer proficiency.

How does a grant management system cut down on inappropriate payments?

The reduction and eventual elimination of inaccurate and inappropriate payments is one of the major goals of the federal grantors. Automation has been identified as the primary strategy to ensure that payments made are accurate, appropriate and verifiable.

Automation verifies that payments are spent in the approved expense categories. When payments are made, they are normally made against the budget specified in the application. If an award of  $100,000 is made, the award may be spread across several expense categories such as salary and wages, fringes, supplies, etc. When expenses are booked, they can be submitted only against the approved expense categories and/or within any deviation limits, if applicable. In the absence of an automated system, the grantor would have to manually match these expense categories and ensure that the expenses do not exceed what has been requested in the budget, which may lead to errors. With an automated system, all the validation and cross-verification is done by the system, thereby saving a lot of time, avoiding errors, overpayments and payments misapplied to the wrong categories.

What is the future of grant management systems?

The federal government has been trying to mandate transparency in grants. With the paper process through which the grants are given out, it’s very difficult to maintain transparency because it’s lost in the paper. If you have a system, it is possible to make the grant process transparent and minimize inappropriate payments. This is possible only through automation. The expectation is that the federal government will start insisting that a higher degree of automation is utilized in the grant management process.

With the proliferation of tools such as tablets and smartphones, grantees will demand that they can apply for a grant using these devices. Enabling mobile devices for grant management will be a trend in the future.

State governments will increasingly use software to automate the grant-giving process, submit their reports and help get all the grant money they can. Some already have. In addition, Software as a Service would be the preferred acquisition model.

JAMES JOSEPH is vice president, government services, at HTC Global Services. Reach him at (248) 530-2528 or [email protected]

JOSEPH RODRIGUES is director, projects at HTC Global Services. Reach him at (248) 530-2554 or [email protected]

Insights Technology is brought to you by HTC Global Services.

Knight trading loss shows cracks in equity markets

NEW YORK,  Aug 3, 2012 – The software glitch that cost Knight Capital Group $440 million in just 45 minutes reveals the deep fault lines in stock markets that are increasingly dominated by sophisticated high-speed trading systems. But Wall Street firms and regulators have few easy solutions for such problems.

Automated trading can handle massive volumes of transactions in milliseconds, something human traders could never do. But the benefits come at a cost: stock markets have become a jumble of exchanges, market makers, high-frequency traders, and investors using different systems that can interact in unexpected ways.

The May 2010 ‘Flash Crash’, in which U.S. stocks inexplicably sank in a matter of minutes, illustrated how technological problems can cascade. These sorts of problems may be more likely given that many market participants are under pressure to cut costs – including technology spending – as trading margins narrow and regulation costs increase.

Since April, a series of embarrassing and costly technology issues have rocked markets and shaken the confidence of investors.

BATS Global Markets, an exchange, was unable to complete its own initial public offering because of a technical problem. Nasdaq botched the market debut of Facebook due to technical glitches, costing it tens of millions of dollars, while UBS AG lost more than $350 million in trading Facebook shares and is blaming Nasdaq.

“The structure just may be too complicated to work,” said Larry Tabb, founder of Tabb Group, a consulting firm that focuses on capital markets.

Business software IPOs hope to trump market woes

NEW YORK, Fri Jun 8, 2012 – Data analysis software company Tableau Software and developer tools maker Atlassian are among several small, business software firms preparing to go public in the next 12 months, hoping a growing market for cloud computing will shield them from the aftermath of Facebook’s botched IPO and Europe’s woes.

Sources familiar with the situation said others include: AppSense, whose user virtualization technology allows people to use different devices; Marin Software, which offers an online advertising management platform; Rapid7, which makes network security software; Rally Software, a provider of project management tools; and CollabNet, which offers web-based software development tools.

These business software companies join other tech firms that are also looking to go public. Cloud-based phone systems provider RingCentral is close to picking bankers, sources familiar with the situation said. Ruckus Wireless, which supplies Wi-Fi products to mobile operators, has chosen Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs as its lead underwriters, the sources said.

All the seven business software companies offer products for the software as a service, or SaaS, market, in which software and associated data are hosted on remote servers, or the cloud. This segment of the market has been increasing in popularity because it is viewed as less costly and easier to implement than traditional hosting methods.

Tech behemoths including Oracle Corp, SAP AG and IBM Corp have spent billions to buy such companies in the past two years. The overall market for enterprise software grew 9.5 percent to $267 billion in 2011 and is expected to top $288 billion this year, according to Gartner.

That means these companies may form one bright spot in an otherwise moribund market for initial public offerings. U.S. IPOs, excluding Facebook, are down 53 percent this year, according to Thomson Reuters data. Facebook’s IPO last month further added to the chill as market problems at debut and the subsequent fall in its share price burned scores of investors.

Oracle software sales rise offsets weak hardware

BOSTON, Wed Mar 21, 2012 – Oracle Corp. beat Wall Street’s earnings estimates as new software sales came in at the high end of the company’s forecast, offsetting a sharp drop in hardware revenue.

The software maker’s stock rose 1.5 percent after the news, in sharp contrast to the sell-off three months ago when its second-quarter profit missed analysts’ forecasts for the first time in a decade.

“The software business bounced back,” Citigroup analyst Walter Pritchard said. “If you look at where the value is at Oracle, it would be the software business.”

Oracle estimated that new software sales this quarter will range from a 2 percent drop to growth of as much as 8 percent, translating into $3.6 billion to almost $4 billion. The midpoint of that forecast, of 3 percent growth, is a sharp drop from the 19 percent increase in the fourth quarter of last year.

Yet Oracle Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz suggested on a conference call that the outlook may not be so grim. She said she had been “somewhat conservative” in calculating that forecast.

Still, shares in the company run by billionaire Larry Ellison pared half of the gains made earlier in the extended trading session. They had rallied 3 percent shortly after it posted earnings that beat Wall Street’s lowered expectations.

Analysts worry that something’s amiss at Oracle software maker

BOSTON, Fri Mar 16, 2012 – Oracle Corp. may soon run out of excuses to feed Wall Street.

When the world’s third-largest software maker missed earnings estimates for the first time in a decade back in December, it blamed an unpredictable global economy. It seemed plausible at the time.

But growing evidence suggests the company is suffering due to challenges that have nothing to do with the macro economy: mounting competition from traditional foe SAP, the loss of a key IT partner in Hewlett Packard, and a hardware business that is becoming a thorn in its side.

Analysts have become increasingly worried that the hardware business Oracle acquired in 2010 with its $5.6 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems has turned into a liability, with sales falling short of expectations.

The company’s bread-and-butter database business – Oracle is the world’s biggest maker of database software – may face off against competition from a re-energized SAP before the end of this year. And Oracle’s highly touted new generation of business management software, released in 2011 after years of delays in development, has been slow to take off.

While this is happening in a still-shaky tech-spending environment, Oracle’s rivals do not seem to be feeling the same pinch. SAP, International Business Machines Corp., alesforce.com and VMware recently released relatively strong results and bullish outlooks, causing investors to question whether something is amiss at Oracle.

CEO Larry Ellison will deliver his latest report card on the state of the business on March 20, when Oracle releases quarterly results. An increasingly skeptical crew of Wall Street analysts will be parsing his words and pouring through the numbers for signs of fundamental business problems, regardless of whether the company meets expectations for the period.

“Oracle is a company with some issues right now,” said long-time Oracle watcher Rick Sherlund, a Nomura Securities analyst.

Those issues are reflected in its stock price, which has gained just 3 percent since the company reported quarterly results in December, compared with a 17 percent rise in the Nasdaq Composite Index.

Oracle officials declined to comment for this story.

Blytheco infuses charity at fundraising events ― and even at the office coin jar

Stephen P. Blythe, CEO, Blytheco LLC

Medical Mutual 2011 Pillar Award
for Community Service — Columbus

If employees at Blytheco LLC have an idea how to help the American Cancer Society and the Relay for Life, they really don’t even need to ask for permission from Stephen P. Blythe. Rest assured, permission will be granted, and Blythe’s enthusiastic and passionate support will be offered toward making it a complete success.

It’s a spirit of giving that the CEO regularly promotes at the company.

Among the ideas, a snack basket containing a variety of healthy snacks that employees can purchase in the company kitchen. There are pizza lunches, ice cream socials, build-your-own salad bars and partnership with local restaurants that add to the contribution Blytheco, a business software company, can make to the effort to fight cancer.

Even the coin jar that sits at the front desk at Blytheco and collects loose change that employees may have in their pockets or in their purse is a little bit more that can be contributed to a great cause.

Blythe himself encourages employees to be passionate about their efforts by living his passion for piloting aircraft and making it a part of the reward for employee contributions.

“Charitable flights are a terrific way to contribute to the community while doing something you love,” Blythe says.

Blythe is a part of LIGA International, which helps those in need in Mexico by delivering goods through the air.

“Through LIGA, I get to contribute the skills I developed in my business life ― accounting and business background, website development, business systems ― while at the same time engaging in areas that provide a personal reward for my contribution, my passion for travel and flying.”

The spirit of giving is something that Blythe encourages and enthusiastically supports at each day at Blytheco. The result is a team that is always ready to do more to help those in need.

How to reach: Blytheco LLC, (404) 841-6240 or www.blytheco.com

Oracle results shock investors, shares take rare plunge

REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. ― Oracle Corp’s. earnings fell short of Wall Street’s forecasts for the first time in a decade as software and hardware sales sputtered, sending its shares down more than 10 percent and stoking fears a global recession will hurt tech spending.

The rare slip-up by the world’s No. 3 software maker raised questions about the health of the technology sector as many companies in the industry gear up to close deals before the end of 2011.

Oracle joins a growing list of companies, including some of technology’s biggest and oldest names, whose results and earnings forecasts have raised alarm bells about worsening business conditions.

They include Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc., Red Hat, Intel Corp., Texas Instruments and NetApp. Shares of HP and Dell were down about 1 percent in after-hours trade, while two of Oracle’s fiercest rivals in the software world, Salesforce.com Inc and Germany’s SAP, were down 2 percent to 4 percent.

Oracle was among the first major technology companies to report results for the quarter spanning November, offering the latest snapshot of the state of worldwide IT spending.

The results were disappointing across the board. The company missed targets on profit as well as hardware and software sales, and offered weak current-quarter forecasts.

Oracle played down the long-term impact of the miss, blaming increased scrutiny of technology investments by cautious customers.

Some clients began requiring that purchases be approved by more senior executives than in recent years, prolonging the time it took to close sales, Oracle President and Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz said in a conference call.

That prevented the software maker from securing some deals during the crucial closing weeks of the quarter, she said, adding that Oracle has adjusted its forecasts to accommodate a lengthier approval process and expects results to be “significantly better” in the current period.

Yet analysts warned that the heightened scrutiny may be a symptom of a more serious issue: that businesses are cutting back on tech spending.

“Companies around the world are slowing their approval process for projects,” said Fred Hickey, editor of the High-Tech Strategist investment newsletter. “That’s what happens in downturns. Companies slow their spending. They slow their approvals.”