I had the fortune of attending the annual SugarCRM Partner, User and Developer Conference (SugarCON) in San Francisco this week. Although I missed last year's event, it is very exciting to see how much SugarCRM (company and product) has grown and matured since my initial brush with it back in 2005, or even in comparison to the last time I attended in 2009. I wanted to take a few moments to share some thoughts on the experience as a whole.
SugarCRM CTO and co-founder Clint Oram kicked things off on Tuesday morning by welcoming the crowd. The day prior had been spent talking about matters relating mostly to partners on which I won't comment (just for the purposes of omission -- don't read into it). Listening to Clint is always interesting. Personally, I've always enjoyed interacting with him as he is a very down-to-Earth and approachable individual. Clint is always willing to listen and actively solicits ideas from the crowd. More importantly, he is honest. The story was the same when I saw him this year. Talk to him if you get the opportunity.
His welcome was followed by the morning keynote, delivered by SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin. Despite having known of Larry for a number of years -- mostly due to his connection to VA Linux -- I had never had the opportunity to actually be in the same room with him or hear him speak at length about SugarCRM. Not surprisingly, part of the keynote revolved around the themes that have served as the focal point for the development of SugarCRM 6.2, slated for later this year: Global, Mobile, Social. There are some really cool things in the works. Stay tuned.
While features are important, so is believing in one's work, as is the feeling that one is part of something one considers to be special. Some of the comments that Larry made really hit home for me and helped to cement the reasons why I proudly align myself with SugarCRM.
During Larry's keynote, he made mention of building a CRM company that was different; that the market wasn't in need of "another CRM" company/product. Afterwards, he went on to describe the aspects that made SugarCRM different, points which all pointed back to openness, both in access to the code, but more importantly in the company's culture.
This is the number one reason why I proudly associate myself with SugarCRM. It is indeed a different company.
I entered the CRM world by pure chance in 1996 and had the fortune of working at a great company with a great product and great co-workers. It was the type of place many people would hope to have as an employer. Through acquisitions and other popular dealings of the time, it would later be transformed into the type of company more closely aligned to the Dilbert comic strip than an ideal employer.
When I first learned of SugarCRM in 2005, I quickly realized it was a different company. It had a bit of that aura I once experienced in my early CRM days. Six years later, it is still there and Larry's comments really helped cement my feelings.
Their success makes me happy, not because it means more business opportunities for me, but because good people with good intentions are winning.
I barely got back home, but I am already looking forward to next year's SugarCON and everything in between.