Tuesday, August 4, 2009

WSO2 is 4 years old

Today is our "unofficial" official birthday - and today we celebrate 4 years of life!

Actually there's no one start date .. there was the day we incorporated the US company, the day the Sri Lankan company was incorporated, the UK company, the day we closed the funding (after changing name to WSO2 from Serendib Systems because James refused to invest without that change!), the day the US company bought the LK company, then the UK company, etc. etc. etc.. However, August 4th is around the center of all of that - which happened between July and September basically. Plus it happens to be a (chance) choice day for me .. so I was a bit selfish in declaring August 4th as our birthday ;-).

Its pretty cool to see how far we've come since the old days. Check out our Web site as of Sept. 24th, 2005 (for some reason the banner image at the top of the page is missing though). Compare that to our current site and, um, yeah we have a few more things to offer!

Its been a fun, challenging, entertaining, interesting and everything 4 years. I have no regrets whatsoever in leaving IBM to start WSO2. IBM was an awesome place, but this experience has been several notches better :-).

Working with Paul as my co-founder (going back to a "secret" meeting he, myself and one other person [who ended up not joining but who I hope to bring into WSO2 one of these days] had at his mom's place in London back in December 2004 while all three of us were still in IBM) has been the single most fun thing out of everything in WSO2. Paul and I are a team in every sense - we challenge each other to excel and there's no doubt that everything we've achieved is due to that superb teamwork. Paul's stubbornness combined (and equaled or maybe exceeded!) with mine has made us a potent team ;-). The beauty is that while we're both stubborn we also compromise and do it with no baggage. We believe in challenging ourselves and everyone to make real, pragmatic, hard-nosed, concrete decisions - we don't lie to ourselves about our capabilities or software or customers or anything.

Oh yes, its not been just 2 people who got us here. And that's the really really special gift WSO2 has given me- the chance to work with an amazing set of young and not-so-young people primarily in Sri Lanka but also in the US (with Jonathan and Katie now) and see everyone grow to becoming global personalities. We're now more than 70 strong and have an amazing group of talented, passionate, hard-working and committed people working on making WSO2 become the global success we all believe we will be.

We have people who've been with us nearly the entire 4 years and several of them are now the key leaders in various aspects: Samisa (now Director of Engineering), Hasmin (now Senior Manager of Communications), and Azeez (Architect of Carbon) being some of the key players.

I think more than 20 people have left WSO2 to join various grad schools all over the world to do PhDs in CS and related areas. I expect probably half of our current team (of more than 70) to leave for higher studies over the near few years as well. In fact, from the original group of people who joined WSO2 right at the inception, only Paul, myself and Flora (our office assistant here in Sri Lanka) are left - almost everyone else has gone to grad school!

We're a very R&D oriented company and group of people - we believe in continuous learning, graduate school and every possible way of learning as ways to continually innovate. Its hard to understand the culture of WSO2 from outside but its quite unusual :).

In summary, I will just say to every one of my WSO2 family members: Thank you.

And to our customers: Thank you for placing your trust in us and for giving us the opportunity to show you that the disgustingly corrupt software industry and the complex software it produces are not the only way.

And to our competitors: better buckle up - its gonna be a rough ride. We've only just begun.


Dan Diephouse said...

Congrats on the 4th unofficial official birthday. :-)

Looking forward to being able to grab beers with you guys in the future again... maybe at ApacheCon if I make it.

William Vambenepe said...

To a Frenchman, "August 4th" immediately brings to mind the famous "nuit du 4 aout" ("night of August 4th") which is when, in 1789, the privileges of nobility and clergy were abolished as part of the French revolution.

From here:

"On the night of August 4, the delegates rose one by one to propose new reforms and to surrender class privileges. The manorial system in which peasants were tied to their landlords through obligations and fees were gone, as was the corvee and all tithing to the church. The nobility and the clergy gave up their exemptions from taxation."

It's still an important historical date in France. Just yesterday, there was a piece in Le Monde asking for a new "nuit du 4 aout" to end tax evasion by the richest.

I figured you wouldn't be displeased by this coincidence and its resonance with what you set out to do with WSO2...

Happy birthday.


Sanjiva Weerawarana said...

Dan: Looking forward to beers (something stronger in my case) at AC :).

William: I love the French revolution analogy!

Thanks guys.

Rajith Attapattu said...

Congrats and hope you guys go from strength to strength.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Starting such an enterprise is no small effort. Enjoy!