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May 23, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:18pm


By CBR Staff Writer

When Jochen Witte and Dirk Bartels, the two co-founders of Poet Software GmbH, went out looking for an object-oriented technology environment to run on the desktop, they found that no such company and no such product existed. We wanted to get away from the monolithic uniform solutions that are bloated with unnecessary features, Witte says. We wanted to have the best of both worlds ?to offer as many options as possible while keeping the system size slim and manageable. Given the lack of expertise in the market, Witte and Bartels, both of whom are former professional hockey players, decided to take a chance and develop their own product, presenting their idea to the world at a trade show in 1992 and immediately attracting the attention of the venture capital community. Since being established in 1993, Poet, which stands for persistent objects extended technology, has become a market leader in personal computer-based object-oriented database systems. Poet’s products run on a wide range of operating systems including Windows, Windows 95, Windows NT, Unix, OS/2 and the Apple Macintosh. Its the only object-oriented database of its kind, said one customer. Our gut reaction was: Buy. In addition to the database, Poet also offers three object- based software development kits for the programming languages Visual Basic, C++ as well as Java. Part of the Java kit, which is available in mid-1997, is a version of Java Tight Binding – the specification that was outlined by the ODMG Object Database Management Group industry body.

Decided to join rather than fight

One factor in Poet’s favor is that it made an early decision to join rather than fight the industry move towards standards and heterogeneous networks. Poet personnel, for example, sit on several of the software industry’s most important decision-making bodies including the ODMG and Germany’s own Society for Information Sciences. In addition, Poet has strong ties to Novell that focus on making the network operating system NetWare ready for Java. Poet received its first venture capital funding in April 1995 when its subsidiary Poet Software Corp in San Mateo, California received $3.6m in funding and formed Poet Holdings, a move to pave the way for an initial public offering in 1998. Most recently, Novell Communications Corp has joined the gang of Poet’s venture capital companies which include Sigma Partners, El Dorado Ventures, Atlas Ventures, Innovacom and Technologie Holding to take a stake in the Poet for $6.5m. For 1996, Poet says that its revenues were $10m. Worldwide the company has a staff of 110 and an installed base of over 15,000 systems. Its customer list is prestigious and includes Hewlett-Packard Co, Compuserve Corp, AT&T Co, the US Supreme Court, Los Alamos Laboratories, Electronic Data Systems Corp, Nokia Oy, Siemens AG, Fidelity Investments, Sony Corp, and Intel Corp. While Poet faces some tough competition from more established software companies as they all jump on the object-oriented bandwagon, Poet has the great advantage of being one of the first to market. Poet’s shortcoming, however, is that it has limited manpower as well as resources. It’s a company with some growth pains, said one of Poet’s customers, but we decided to stick it out because the product is sheer poetry to work with.

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