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Also posted on: The Norfolk Punt
Perforce Software is one of the leading purveyors of Configuration Management tools. The importance of Configuration Management as the foundation of good governance is often overlooked; it deals with the management of everything (all “Configuration Items” or “CIs”) essential to delivering a service and the relationships between CIs and services and other CIs. If you thought that Perforce had been replaced by Git, then you are wrong – Git only does part of what Perforce can do and, in fact, Perforce is often used to manage Git repositories.
Now Perforce has been acquired by a “global growth equity investor”, Summit Partners. Janet Dryer (who retired as CEO of HelpSystems in 2014) becomes Perforce CEO and Christopher Seiwald (see his blog here), Perforce’s founder, remains (I believe) in an advisory capacity. Obviously, access to funds could turn this into a strong growth opportunity for Perforce (which has an excellent customer list including Salesforce, Electronic Arts, NVIDIA, Cisco, Samsung, VMware and more), although there is always a risk to company culture with acquisition.
As you’d expect, people I’ve talked to at Perforce seem cautiously optimistic, although it is far too early to say whether this will be a success or not (Dryer has only been in the job for a week and hasn’t met with UK Perforce, face-to-face, yet) and I notice that it isn’t mentioned in the February 2016 Perforce Newsletter (it wasn’t predicted, unsurprisingly, in the January 2016 predictions either). The general feeling seems to be that more investment and new senior management and board experience will be useful. Dryer’s track record of growth (both organically and via acquisitions) at HelpSystems suggests that she will be focusing on making the company more driven and results-oriented (no bad thing). There are a couple of public interviews with Dryer (here and here), where she is very positive about Summit Partners and talks about the value of culture and company loyalty (so she probably appreciates the Perforce culture), although she also appears to believe in setting a high bar for new employees and has no problem with firing employees who don’t do their bit. These characteristics are probably key to her previous success.
I like Perforce, in part because it sees Configuration Management as something that goes beyond IT and embraces business-level services. I’ll be following its new progress with interest – I do think that Perforce could have a higher profile with the business stakeholders in Configuration Management (many of whom probably don’t realise they are stakeholders yet).