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Interview: Alfresco prepares for IPO, names new CEO

We caught up with John Newton, the CTO and co-founder of Alfresco, one of the world's largest open source companies, to discuss about the appointment of a new CEO and the company's impending IPO.

Why Alfresco is choosing to go public in the US, and why now?

John Powell, Alfresco's other co-founder, and I made the decision quite early on that we would go public in the US. While building the company, the UK has been an important place for our main headquarters to be located, giving us access to some great engineers. Nevertheless, when it comes to going public, the liquidity for tech IPOs is in the US.

Why Alfresco is appointing a new CEO?

With a view to an IPO in the US, it is important for us to have a CEO who is based there and close to partners, investors and analysts. John Powell is keen to remain based in the UK and decided that, in order to give the company the best chance of conducting a successful IPO, it made sense for him to step down and for the company to appoint a US-based CEO. Doug Dennerline, the new Alfresco CEO, is a 25-year veteran in Silicon Valley. He was most recently president of SuccessFactors, Inc. and has the right experience to move Alfresco towards an IPO. We’re confident that Doug’s experience and impressive enterprise cloud success will take Alfresco through this next phase of growth.

How does Alfresco intend to differentiate itself from its cloud competitors (Huddle, Box, Dropbox amongst others)?

The companies you mention all come from a file-sharing background. Alfresco is much more than that. It is a full enterprise content management solution that supports business processes, manages business-critical content and enables a truly mobile workforce. Our solutions also let customers have a hybrid solution that’s on-premise for critical content and in the cloud for sharing and collaboration. Content is synchronised across both. We believe that no other providers are able to offer this functionality.

How did you built Alfresco and Documentum (which was acquired by EMC)?

I had been living in the UK when I decided to go back to the US to found Documentum with a friend in 1990. At that stage there was no such thing as content management so we more or less invented it. I moved back to Europe about six years later while I was running marketing and professional services for Documentum. After five more years I decided to try something new and became an ‘entrepreneur in residence’ at Benchmark Capital, one of the leading venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. While I was there I came to the conclusion that the old enterprise model doesn’t really work. I realised that open source was where the future of content management was so that was when John Powell, who was the CEO of Business Objects, and I got together and created Alfresco.

What has Alfresco been up to over the past 12 months?

We’ve recently brought on 109 new enterprise customers in 27 countries and had multiple $1 million+ deals in government, financial services and media industries. We’ve also announced significant cloud integrations with Amazon Web Services,, Google Docs and Microsoft Office. All this has resulted in the 24th straight quarter of year-over-year revenue growth and the largest quarter in revenue for the U.S. We’ve also seen strong continued momentum across Europe.

Desire worked at ITProPortal right at the beginning and was instrumental in turning it into the leading publication we all know and love today. He then moved on to be the Editor of TechRadarPro - a position he still holds - and has recently been reunited with ITProPortal since Future Publishing's acquisition of Net Communities.