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February 12, 2010

Exclusive podcast: CEO of Actuate, the open source firm behind BIRT

"I like the Italian family culture... damn sometimes it comes down to arguments and fights - it can get emotional, typically it's passion." Pete Cittadini, ActuateI had a good long chat with Pete Cittadini, CEO of open source business intelligence

By Cbr Rolling Blog

“I like the Italian family culture… damn sometimes it comes down to arguments and fights – it can get emotional, typically it’s passion.” Pete Cittadini, Actuate

I had a good long chat with Pete Cittadini, CEO of open source business intelligence firm Actuate recently. The company is doing somewhere between $120m and $140m a year, having founded and still co-leading the Eclipse Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) open source project.

We touched on the firm’s belief in the open source model and its own take on it, the firm’s potential to expand beyond its North American market where 75% of its revenue is generated today, and how the company has performed against the backdrop of a recession.

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I also asked about the high cost of being a public company considering its size, and whether Cittadini believes the firm can grow into one with revenues in the several-hundred-millions range.

Perhaps the most interesting comments for some listeners though will be around Cittadini’s management style and the kind of culture he likes to foster at Actuate: “”I like the Italian family culture… damn sometimes it comes down to arguments and fights – it can get emotional, typically it’s passion.”

Listen to the podcast by clicking here. Below Pete’s picture you’ll find an approximate timeline of the questions if you would like to skip to a certain segment.

 

 

12_peter_cittadini.jpg

Pete Cittadini, CEO of Actuate: “We’re grappling with [cloud] pricing.”

 

Timeline of questions:

0:18 What attracted you to joining Actuate way back in 1995?

2:05 One of Actuate’s USP is the fact it’s open source. Why is that model important, and what’s your particular take on the open source model?

5:19 75% of your revenue comes from North America. Does the rest of the world hold the potential for the strongest growth?

7:35 2001 was the pinnacle year for Actuate in terms of revenue. Despite revenue being down slightly in your latest quarter margins have remained strong: is that partly down to the open source model? [N.B. this podcast was recorded before the firm’s latest quarterly results were published, which actually saw revenue UP 2% YOY, and UP 19% sequentially]

10:10 The macro-economic climate has clearly not helped. Are you starting to see the green shoots of recovery?

11:58 Actuate tends to get good analyst marks for ease of use. Are you seeing broad roll-outs amongst companies adopting the technology?

14:14 BIRT has a variety of deployment models. Would you say you have a cloud strategy?

15:40 Can a company with revenue in the range of $120m to $140m afford the cost of being public?

17:50 Are you optimistic you can grow into a company with revenues in the several-hundred-million range?

19:15 You’ve been in technology for over 20 years but started with a BA in Liberal Arts. That makes you somewhat unusual as a tech CEO. Do you think that means there are differences in the kind of culture you like to foster at Actuate?

If you missed the link to the podcast, here it is again.

 

Please follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/jasonstamper

 

 

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