Paolo Juvara is the CEO of OpenBravo, an open source enterprise resource planning (ERP) company. Prior to joining OpenBravo in 2007, he was based in Redwood Shores, California, working for Oracle Corporation in applications development. He held a broad range of development and management roles within Oracle’s Applications business, including positions on the financials, supply chain management, CRM and business intelligence development teams. Paolo also worked in Paris, France, as part of Oracle’s Globalization team. An Italian, Paolo graduated from Politecnico di Milano with a degree in electronic engineering and a specialization in software engineering.
Sramana: Paolo, what is the genesis of your story? Where are you from?
Paolo Juvara: I am Italian and was born in Milan. I went to school in Milan, and after I graduated I knew I wanted to have an international experience. I began working for Oracle in France and was very lucky that I was able to be an ambassador for a new product launched for the French market. Two years later I became the development manager of the product and was stationed in Redwood Shores, where I spent the next 12 years.
After 14 years at Oracle, I realized that either I was going to work for Oracle for the rest of my life or had change my path soon. I decided I wanted to look for other opportunities, and I wanted to move out of Silicon Valley. I had spent a lot of time working with ERP and also found myself attracted to the open source movement, which was really emerging at that time. It was considered a groundbreaking way of developing software.
As I began looking for opportunities, I stumbled upon a small company from Pamplona in northern Spain. I came across the company at a conference in Paris where they announced their existence and their intention to take the ERP market by storm. I was taken aback by these guys from Pamplona! I really wanted to get to know them, so I got in touch with the founders.
They had gotten to the point where they had a small engineering team of six people in Spain. They had a very talented team, but they did not have anyone with past leadership of developing products in a professional manner. They felt that they needed someone who had done that, and they recruited me as the CTO. This was in 2007.
If we flash back to mid-2005, we will find that the company was founded by two students and a professor at a university in Pamplona. They started working for the IT department, and they were PhD students. They developed a campus management system. Afterward they decided they had built enough of a solution that they could use that software to provide IT services to their local region. The implemented a few projects before they realized they could just develop a product instead of trying to do project after project.
The decided to focus on building an ERP, but they did not have an open source concept. From an engineering efficiency standpoint, they decided to implement open source software. In May 2005, they started looking for investors to help them move forward. They found a local venture capital firm that gave them a first round of seed money. With that funding they were able to recruit our first CEO, who had the vision of open source software gaining [popularity] a worldwide basis. He changed the mentality of the company from a small provider of distribution to being something that could have global ambitions.
I joined the company a few months later. The company published its first product in 2006 and had a huge dissemination. SourceForge.net was used as the repository.