Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Kiwi success story

Last week I attend a “wax off” party hosted by Aptimize for their staff and professional advisors.  The atmosphere there was jubilant.  Last month the company was acquired by Riverbed Technology, where it will become the new Web Content Optimization product group.  Aptimize founders Ed Robinson and Derek Watson will take on management positions at Riverbed in San Francisco.

Earlier this year Ed Robinson confirmed in a media article that its first patent filed in mid-2008 gave the company “breathing room” to further develop the company’s products, secure in the knowledge they would not be imitated.  He went on to state:
“Patents help protect an invention against imitation and also add value to the technology from the point of view of an investor.  If intellectual property is adequately protected, it is more likely to attract investment to aid its further development and marketing.  At the end of the day a patent is an asset, more secure than the brains and skills of development staff, who may leave”.
The company has drawn criticism from a small but vocal number of armchair critics.  I have seen disapproval of Aptimize’s pro-patent stance, unenlightened comments on the validity of Aptimize’s intellectual property, and even comments purporting to downplay the role intellectual property played in Riverbed’s acquisition of the company.

Concentrate’s Owen Scott points out the downstream benefits for our economy of the acquisition in his article “Fertilising our technology tall poppies”.  He states that:
"most of the Aptimize team, including some of the shareholding owners, will move to San Francisco, picking up more knowledge and skills about operating in the US that can be shared with our technology industry.  In my experience successful Kiwi tech entrepreneurs are incredibly generous in doing this."
A Riverbed spokesman confirms the company is “also open to finding other promising start-ups in the [Australia-New Zealand] region … As a global company we are very comfortable with managing distributed engineering and product teams”.

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