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Data Center Management

Mimecast Chief Swerves 'Frothy' Markets, Plays a Long Game

“The big update on the IPO,” says Mimecast CEO Peter Bauer, “is that it’s Thursday.”

He’s got me again. The poker face and flat South African intonation make up a good combination for winding up the journalists that are always asking him about a float of the London, England-based email and document archiving company. Just as he did last time, except then the big event was to take place on a Wednesday.

Mimecast would be better placed than many new market entrants to try its luck on the public markets but Bauer, like a few others, sees the odd shark in the water.

Speaking at a dinner for media earlier this month, Bauer says Mimecast is pulling in over $100m in annual revenue. That’s a totemic figure for many companies in the US where it has become adopted as the unofficial jumping-off point for a stock offering and accompanying $1bn valuation.

However, the recent marking down of technology (and cloud, especially) stocks has given pause to what had been a giddy period. Also, the NSA/Snowden affair has raised concerns among some IT buyers. Bauer says he has seen “no big slowdown” but some “increased sensitivity” relating to where data travels and is stored.

As Bauer says, Mimecast is “a great example of a British success story” and at the heart of that success is the team of about 100 software engineers led by co-founder and CTO Neil Murray. Mimecast helps companies create secure archives of messages and files, thereby decommissioning multiple point solutions and reducing cost, complexity and risk.

And having that managed information vault is not just for belt-and-braces governance. It also becomes what Mimecast calls the “corporate memory” of an organisation, the place where all knowledge is shared.

As Bauer sees it, there’s a binary dynamic at play.

“The corporate memory exists in two places: the grey matter between the ears of people is probably unreliable if you arrive at work with a hangover or you were in the wrong conversation or in a wrong part of the team when something happened. The other is documents created by people poking at keyboards.”

And the advantage of those documents is that they create metadata that helps IT understand context and mine information. Emails are a particularly rich source, stacked with clues like the trail of a careless criminal.

With its roster of 10,000 customers, almost three million users and healthy spread across regions and industries, Mimecast appears a very healthy organisation well placed to capitalise on the information explosion and need to find gems of data. But Bauer is proud of the “long trajectory and a steady cadence” Mimecast has developed and wary of what he calls “frothy technology markets”. He’s also not sure that if/when Mimecast floats where that would be and notes the red tape implicit in adapting to US accounting rules, for example.

Instead, he’s more excited about additions such as the ability to send large files and ‘Mimedrive’, the name for a project due to be a commercial offering later this year. Mimedrive, already in use internally at Mimecast provides a file server-like snappy experience for remote users, allowing them to click on icons to view files.

“It’s as if I’d been the most diligent filer of information in the world,” Bauer says. “The Favourites folder builds itself automatically through dynamically indexed information.”

He’s sanguine about the rise of messaging apps, file synchronisation and sharing services, anonymous sending and other changes to the way people communicate digitally.

“Our goal is to archive as much as we can in corporate communications and anyway, the more complex the messaging environment is, that builds barriers to entry [for putative rivals].”

He also downplays what I suggest is an obvious opportunity: a consumer version of the service. That, he argues, would be possible only if Mimecast built a tight relationship with a cloud email giant.

The bigger picture is the chance to “go from chaos to metadata-driven order”… and, as a side line perhaps, to put down pesky journalists with their IPO questions.

 

Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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