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Cordys scores $80m for US roll-out

'If you don't grow fast you might as well go home'

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Jan Baan's latest company, Cordys, has scored $80m from the VC house Argonaut to build itself a US sales empire.

Cordys, Dutch-owned - just like Baan (the software company) was - has been around in Europe since 2001 and in the US since last year. It is a combatant in the BPMS or Business Process Management Suite market, an emerging sector that should be worth $1bn worldwide by the end of the year and $2.6bn by 2011, according to Gartner. The analyst firm names Cordys as one of five BPMS companies to watch in 2007, but some rivals such as IBM and Tibco, are much, much bigger.

Cordys thinks its software works better than the rivals as it is designed from the ground-up, as opposed to being stitched together from acquisitions. But that means nothing without the foot soldiers and the channel partners to go out and sell the stuff. Hence the fuel injection from Argonaut, to gain a "substantial minority" stake in the business - i.e. somewhere between 20 and 49.9 per cent.

Mark Olsen, VP of client technology at Cordys US, said: "The market has started to grow very quickly and will grow even faster. In these market dynamics if you don't grow fast you might as well go home. You need the resources to bring in the right people, the right partners and the right technology."

As always in the wacky world of enterprise software, it is easier to nail jelly to the wall than to define what it is that Cordys does. In essence, it offers graphical tools that let users "draw" their business processes. Cordys's software then reaches out to legacy systems and combines this into a working automation system. We think. The company also bandies phrases such as service-oriented architecture and internet-mash-ups - the latter means that its software is good for ISVs to play with. We think. There is no price list, so we must assume that this is a big-ticket item.

Jan Baan and his brother Paul were the founders of Baan Software, a mini-SAP. At its height, the company was worth billions, but in the late nineties, the company was embroiled in an accountancy scandal, which claimed the jobs of both brothers. The company was sold to Invensys in 2001, which sold on the software and brand to SSA in 2003. SSA was bought last year by Infor. ®

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