Where does the time go? This time five years ago, Workday announced it had acquired Cape Clear, a provider of Web services integration technology I founded with David Clarke in 1999. I am still here, as is most of the original team. My co-founder still looks the same:
While “self-praise is no praise,” this anniversary presents an opportunity to reflect on some of the positive things over the last five years about the merging of both cultures and the technologies themselves.
I’ll start with the culture. Most software M&As end with the founding team departing pretty quickly. Workday’s acquisition of Cape Clear is very unusual in that more than 90% of the original team, including the founders, is still here. It could be claimed the reason we’re all still here is a lack of ambition or alternative employment in recession-struck Ireland ☺. That would not only be churlish, but also wrong. The reason we’re all still here is that Workday is a really interesting and fun place to be. Being part of a company that is redefining the enterprise application space is the sort of industry changing opportunity that doesn’t come along very often and is a magnet for entrepreneurs like us.
Back in 2008, Workday was a much smaller company. I was employee 215. We were the first employees outside California. Today, the Dublin, Ireland office is the biggest office outside our HQ in Pleasanton. We have product development, quality assurance, testing, support, operations, finance, and administrative staff here. The Dublin office is an integral part of our overall success.
There are some specific reasons as to why this five-year journey has worked out so well. We knew there was a good cultural match up front because Aneel Bhusri was on the Cape Clear board since 2001 and we had a good partnership in place. Right after the acquisition, Aneel and Dave Duffield insisted that every Cape Clear employee fly to the U.S. for a week of meetings and also to attend one of the (legendary) Workday company meetings. This was an important bonding exercise and laid the foundation for many successful professional and personal relationships. In fact, many of the U.S. team thought the Irish were so much fun that they’ve found many reasons to make the return journey to Dublin—for work of course ☺. In short, the willingness of the teams from both companies to make this acquisition a success has been the critical ingredient from the cultural perspective.
On the technology side, the integration of the Workday and Cape Clear technologies has probably exceeded our expectations. Initially, we focused on the Cape Clear Enterprise Service Bus as being the engine behind our cloud-based integrations. Over time, that has evolved to the point where it is very hard to draw the line between the original Workday technology and Cape Clear technology. The two have matured together in a very powerful way, resulting in the Workday Integration Cloud, comprised of an integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) that allows all application integrations to run in the Workday Cloud without a customer having to use on-premise middleware, as well as pre-built connections we offer for integrating to third-party applications and services. The Cape Clear technology is also the origin of much of our internal “grid” capabilities, which has helped our scalability by, for instance, reducing payroll processing time by a factor of 10!
Shortly after the acquisition, we got to work on what we could do to make the integration problem simpler for our customers. At the heart of the task was the notion that we wanted to blur the boundary between the “application” and the “integration.” The internal goal was to “make Workday the easiest” in terms of application integration. Five years on, 97% of Workday customers use our integration technology, running more than 150,000 integrations per month. This shows we have come a long way down the path we set forward. Furthermore, we think there is yet more we can do to make Workday integrations even easier.
I think I can speak for all Cape Clear people when I say that the last five years have been deeply satisfying. We’ve helped build a meaningful product that not only leads the industry in terms of innovation, but more importantly, simplifies the integration problem for our customers.