Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Online Armor sold to Emsisoft

Mike's final (OA) blog post - a personal note

By the time you read this, the news will be public that Austrian-based Emsisoft, headed up by Christian Mairoll has aquired Online Armor from Tall Emu. There's a been a bit of speculation over the last day or so that "something" was happening.
During the past few weeks, we started to prepare to transfer operational control of Online Armor over to Emsisoft and a few things went live 48h or so before they were supposed to. Oops.

The deal is done, there's no going back and no regrets. Indeed, Emsisoft aquiring Online Armor is the best possible thing that could happen to it. Emsisoft has 20 staff focused on security software. Tall Emu had two (OA developers) - and they just went to work for Emsisoft. I can't wait to see what happens over the next 12 months with Online Armor and Emsisoft Anti-malware.

A lot of people probably have a lot of questions, and I've been asked a few times, so I'll try to answer them here.

Why did you do it ?

There's been many things that have been said about Tall Emu over the last few years; There've been assumptions that we're a massive corporate with unlimited funds, people who think that it's "all just that Mike bloke". As usual, the truth is somewhere in between, although I wish it were closer to the first one, particularly the unlimited funds part.

We're a small company, almost a family company in fact. Our main line of business has always been custom software development. That means, generally speaking, that when the guy that runs a winery needs software, he'd come see us and we'd write it for him. We all have consulting backgrounds - going into businesses, figuring out what makes them tick - and then helping them automate their businesses.

This is the main part of what Tall Emu does - and as part of it, and I hope Christian forgives me the plug - we developed a rather flexible CRM system which is just starting to take off.

Managing multiple customer projects, the development of a CRM system - and then, my consulting work (all of which pays the bills) it was clear that I'd taken too much on personally, and something had to give. There are only so many hours in the day, and I was working most of them.

That's when I called (well, skyped) Christian. I told him the situation -and basically made him a simple proposition - if you want it, it's yours.

Aren't you going to miss it? How can you leave

Absolutely I am. I've met an awesome load of people over the last years, and I'm very sad to be leaving Online Armor behind. Having said that, selling OA lets me focus on fewer things - and to do them better, rather than trying to do too many things and doing them badly.

And that's what it came down to. If you imagine a normal workday, how many different tasks can you really give your attention and focus to in any detail? And that was the dilemma - what to do to ease that situation. For a while, I neglected Online Armor a little - but long terms that would simply have caused the product to slowly die. It wasn't the outcome that was going to work for anyone. Better to preserve it, and regain some semblance of a normal life outside of work than to allow it to die.

Why Emsisoft?

I've worked with Christian over the last year or so I've gotten to know him and there is nobody else that I'd be happy to sell OA to. In fact, we didn't even "shop it around" - we just spoke with Christian. That probably cost us a lot of money, but Christian and I enjoy a special relationship.

There's a lot of trust there, and after spending time with him when he visited Australia earlier this year, I know he'll do the right thing by the product, the customers, the developers who are going to work with him.

What's next ?

The future for OA looks good, and it's going to be an interesting ride - just one, unfortunately that I am a little too tired to go along on. While things might change over time, this forum will stay as it is - there will be no immediate and dramatic changes, but of course change will come.

I'll let Christian speak more to the future, though as I now move to the past, but Christian and I both hope that you'll stay around and be part of the future too.

What I can tell you on Christian's behalf is this:

  • Product editions will stay untouched. Freeware edition will not end of course.
  • Website remains on www.online-armor.com, but we'll have to move everything away from tallemu.* domains soon.
  • Forum remains, but moved to support.online-armor.com
Which kind of benefits does Emsisoft expect from the deal then?
  • As part of a much larger development team (8 at Emsisoft so far), OA development can progress faster. Sharing knowledge internally is a very important factor for speed and quality of the produced software.
  • With the existing marketing and sales force at Emsisoft, we want to spread the name about OA much more. It's a great product, winning tests, but we need to tell everybody about it to make it grow.
  • On the long run, we have plans to create some kind of a suite product. It's gonna be a completely new product most likely. But things are not finally decided yet.

Final thoughts

From me, the final words are simple: Thank you. It's been great. I've appreciated all the help you've ever given, the fun parts and just knowing this bunch of people from around the world. There've been numerous beta testers, admins, volunteers, helpers and just enthusiasts. It would be impossible to name everyone who's helped us, and I'm writing this blog late at night here in Sydney in anticipation of the events to unfold.

However, I'd like to give particular thanks to our admin team, translation team, beta test team, private test team, Catprincess, our forum angel who collectively have helped us, and lots of Online Armor users around the world. I'd also like to offer a word of thanks to the hardworking team at Wilders Security - this is where Online Armor got it's first break, and has been our unofficial "second home" now since then.

Oh, and if you need a CRM system... ;)

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