Chris Stone, CEO, StreamServe
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Chris Stone, who was instrumental in Novell's acquisition of SUSE Linux, has been a busy man since leaving the Utah software maker last November to pursue other interests.
Stone, who, as Novell's vice chairman in the office of the CEO, had been responsible for engineering, product management and alliances, spent a good part of his off-time skiing in order to recharge. When he came off the slopes, he surveyed his venture capital contacts in search of a new company to lead.
Those contacts led him to StreamServe, a little-known Swedish company that specializes in enterprise document presentation, an emerging software field in which inventory, pricing and customer data is presented in a readable template.
StreamServe consolidates several digital documents into one detailed item, improving efficiencies in markets, such as finance, production inventory, sales and human resources.
Some call this type of technology "e-forms." Adobe has a similar type of technology and Microsoft is expected to deliver its own e-forms software eventually. IBM recently purchased PureEdge to add new e-forms capabilities to its repertoire.
Working out of StreamServe's Burlington, Mass., headquarters, Stone recently told internetnews.com the company is doing well around the world. But he was hired in April to boost StreamServe's visibility in the U.S., where it has yet to mine the lucrative market for enterprise software.
Q: What led you to StreamServe?
I looked around at lots of opportunities, but I like to get involved with things that have a pretty big challenge, and that need some positioning and messaging. Novell was one of those, too: Turning NetWare into a Linux company. This is what intrigued me about StreamServe.
StreamServe is a 10-year-old company originally founded in Sweden, and it still has 80 percent of its revenues in Europe. It's sort of the inverse, a European software company breaking into the United States. Ninety-five percent of software companies do it the other way around. So, when I was out looking around, I ran into some venture capitalists I knew and they asked me to take a look at this because it's still a very fast growing company.
It's still growing at more than 20 percent, which in today's age is pretty good. But it needed some positioning and messaging about what it does. If you go to our Web site right now, you'll discover it doesn't really tell you exactly what it is that we do. That's part of the issue, and that's what we're trying to change.
Q: What does the StreamServe software application do?
We have 4,000 customers all over the world, and they basically use us as the last-mile presentment. Presentment is how to get an Adobe PDF or XML to an invoice and how do I get this consolidated.
Say you have multiple lines from a phone company. Let's say you have landlines and cell lines -- you get multiple bills, which is pretty frustrating. Why can't they figure out who you are and send you one bill? These are the kinds of things that we do for large companies -- personalizing and customizing how they present themselves to a customer. We take all of the data out of an SAP or Oracle application and we turn it into an invoice. We can take any output -- PDF, XFA, XML, flat files -- convert them, transform them together and generate statements, invoices or utility bills.
Think of the stuff you get in the mail and how impersonal it is. Or if you're a large business, what's the No. 1 document that your customers look at? It's an invoice. Turn it into a marketing opportunity by including more information on it. Consolidation. Do you realize that when you're favorite company goes to ship something to a distribution center, the amount of documents created just to ship a palette is anywhere from 16 to 18 different documents, all coming from different systems?
So you can see it's a complicated business-process issue that many companies have. We end up being a soothsayer of services, consolidate it all down into one and it saves them an enormous amount of money.
Q: So you're consolidating documents into one clean, actionable e-form. Why is this so important to the corporate market?
It's a huge area that never really gets talked about, but it's one of the biggest issues because you have to print it. As a business, you have to figure out how to present it, and whether it's printing it, or it's on the Web, most people seem to forget about that. That seems to be a very hot space all of a sudden. Microsoft has even entered it. They call it Metro. Adobe calls it the Intelligent Document Platform. The space is growing like mad.
Q: What does StreamServe call it?
We're calling it enterprise document presentment. "Enterprise" meaning it's two-way communication. "Document" meaning anything you can generate. And "presentment," of course, is how do you present it? We're going to name it that, create the category and push, so you'll hear a lot about that from us over the next 30 to 60 days.
The real challenge is educating people about this space and showing customers why it is valuable. That's what our goal is now.