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October 13, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

On paper, the small French client-server applications development tool maker Nat Systemes SA has become American. Following the purchase last March of 14.76% of the company by venture capitalists Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Arnold Silverman, they apparently told Nat Systemes’ founders, Olivier Dellenbach and Christophe Gissinger that the company would have to make some changes if it expected to win its share of the $250m US market for client-server development tools, which is growing at a combustible rate of 70% per year. The company had to make itself more palatable to often-provincial American tastes before it could hope to float on NASDAQ, the investors said. Thus, Nat Systemes has hired an American chief executive, former Legent Corp chief executive John Burton. Furthermore, the company has legally changed its name to Nat Systems Inc – without the extra e in the French spelling – and has its base in Reston, Virginia. It was clear that if we wanted to make it in the American market, we needed more credibility with someone who knew worldwide software market, which is John Burton and not Olivier Dellenbach, who is the visionary and product creator, said the company. The headquarters of Nat Systems Europe and Nat Systemes France remains in Paris, as does the company’s product development team, which is directed by Dellenbach. Burton, who also announced that he personally invested $500,000 in the company, has his work cut out for him. The 250-strong company, which reported 1994 revenues of some $23m, currently does 80% of its business in France. Its only US customer is Equitable Life, in New York. Nonetheless, Burton, quoted in Les Echos, is forecasting internal growth of 50% per year for Nat Systems, via direct sales and partnerships, such as the one concluded with Cap Gemini Sogeti SA last June. Specifically, he expects to hit sales of $200m in five years, as well as market leadership. And to do that, he said, he must eliminate the perception that it is just a French company, grow it and increase its visibility.

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