Roger Sippl is the founder and former CEO of Informix Software. Roger began his career in computer science during the early days of the computer age. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during college, Roger explains how this life and death situation changed how he approaches business.
After the health scare, Roger switched his major to computer science and found a need for cleaner and more efficient database management software. We discuss what the software business was like in the early days and how it has changed over time. Roger has a lot of experience with running public companies and building companies to sell. He shares what he liked about his time in the software business and why he decided to focus more on investing and business mentoring. Roger also has some useful advice for new entrepreneurs who want to build a lasting company.
You will learn about:
- Roger’s business background.
- The cancer diagnosis and how it changed his life.
- Why Roger switched to the software business.
- His goals for the company in the early days.
- Why Informix became a public company.
- What it was like running a public company.
- Why Roger left Informix.
- How the software industry has changed over the years.
- What Roger considers when looking to invest in a company.
- The common red flags Roger sees when he evaluates a business.
- Roger’s parting advice for the audience.
Today’s biggest takeaway is to be aware that every business has a relevance window. Your company’s value will change with the market. Make sure you are prepared to sell your company when it is the most valuable.
Links and Resources
About Roger Sippl
Roger Sippl is a Silicon Valley software pioneer, entrepreneur, and innovator. His 30 years of contributions have helped shape the enterprise software technology landscape of today. In 1980 he founded Informix Software, and was CEO for 10 years, taking it public in 1986. Under his leadership, Informix pioneered SQL relational databases, report generators, screen data entry packages, 4GL application development tools, and scalable OLTP database technology. It is now a part of IBM, after peaking at a $4B market cap as a public company.
Sippl was also co-founder and Chairman of The Vantive Corporation. Vantive became a leader in CRM, became a public company, peaked at a $1B market cap, and is now a part of PeopleSoft/Oracle. In 1993, he founded and was CEO of Visigenic Software, helping pioneer distributed object computing and the concept of the application server (based on CORBA, prior to the J2EE standard) in enterprises. Visigenic was acquired by Borland, after becoming a public company. After the Visigenic IPO Mr. Sippl earned the “Golden Hat Trick Award” from Cristina Morgan at JP Morgan/Hambrecht and Quist for three Silicon Valley IPOs.
In the mid-nineties, Sippl became a founding partner of Sippl Macdonald Ventures. He invested in several successful software companies, including Illustra (acquired by Informix), Broadvision (IPO), SupportSoft (IPO) and Red Pepper (acquired by PeopleSoft). In 2002, Sippl founded Above All Software, a composite application platform that used web services and service-oriented architecture (SOA).
Mr. Sippl has been on over a dozen boards of directors of for=profit corporations, public and private, and has also served on several non-profit boards. Public board service has included Informix, Vantive, SupportSoft, and Interwoven. He was the representative of the software industry on the X/OPEN board of directors and was a founding board member of /usr/group and the Uniform Unix trade association in the 1980’s. Mr. Sippl has also been the Chairman of the Stanford Cancer Council for over 10 years, as well as serving three school boards over the years. He currently serves on the boards of WaveMaker (private), Demand Reports (private), Filtini (private), and Sensitini (private), as well as Fountain Valley School of Colorado Springs.
Mr. Sippl studied Biochemistry, Immunology and Computer Science at the University of California at Berkeley, earning a BS degree in Computer Science in 1977.