By Kirk Laughlin, NSAM Editorial Director
Quick: Name a Latin American software dev firm that will land on NASDAQ within two years, boasting strong revenue and a world-beating reputation for building slick online social networking apps?
Answer: Try Argentina’s Globant, a classic Latin American success story that has so much upside that India Inc. (major India-based global services firms) has already tried to scoop it up.
Nearshore Americas sat down with Martin Migoya, the energetic chief executive of Globant and one of four founders of the company, recently in New York City, to talk about the firm’s big ambitions to become one of the world’s premiere offshore software development players.
“We are focused on transforming the software creation experience,” said Migoya. “We are convinced it can be an enjoyable experience.”
Globant has a plan called a “Global Manifesto” – and given its short life span and impressive track record of execution – the plan is working. Founded in 2003 by Migoya, CTO Guibert Englebienne, COO Martín Umaran and VP of Innovation Labs Néstor Nocetti, Globant is set to earn about $50 million this year, but the founders expect to be collecting between $300 million and $500 million within five years. Among other things the Manifesto calls for the company to go public on New York City-based Nasdaq in two years, giving the company the same kind of clout a typical US sofware maker enjoys.
About 60% of the company’s business comes from Silicon Valley. An early alliance with Google, where Globant helped promote and manage some of the largest implementations on OpenSocial, an open interoperability standard enabling social networks to interface with each other, appears to have helped influence future business. Clients have included Disney, GAP, Yahoo!, Coca Cola, and Linked-In. The company is especially focused right now on building a social network for Nike, currently in Beta.
Big Game Hunters
Globant’s momentum is clearly making waves, and top tier India-based global services providers, hungry to deepen their footprint in Latin America, are paying attention. In fact Globant’s name has popped up recently in the India press as a prime acquisition target by India Inc.
Migoya said Globant has already been approached by India firms and has turned down offers. “You need to have a consistent, long term plan,” he said. “There is no space to sell the company.”
Having spoke to both Migoya and Englebienne (during a separate interview), it is difficult to imagine how Globant ‘s top execs – at least in the near term – would surrender the passion they inject into Globant. In fact, the actual creation of the company was built on offering an alternative to the software developments practices and philosophies borne from India. “We have focused on changing the equation by having top quality engineers that add real value,” said Migoya. “We have found that many of the Indian firms have had trouble delivering breakthrough products.”
Argentina rates high on the worldwide scale of design proficiency and dazzling visual innovations. The country’s designers are perennial winners of the prestigious Clio Awards, reflecting a thriving talent pool that Englebienne points to as an important contribute to Globant’s unique positioning.
Globant’s founders have spent a lot of time thinking about how to optimize the performance of talented professionals, establishing “studio” groups that essentially act as specialized communities devoted to high-caliber, fluid output in specific domains. There are studios devoted to gaming (the company has a key alliance with Electronic Arts), game testing, consumer experience, transactional strategies and social networking. The typical studio consists of about 150 people, and is lead by a three-member leadership layer, representing operational, technical and business dev functions.
“Our studios are fundamentally designed to make sure the customer is satisfied,” said Migoya, who cites time zone, cultural fit with US and UK clients and strong personal data protection laws as key business enablers.
Not surprisingly, Globant has become an attractive place to work. In April, the company lured a top Latam Google exec, Gonzalo Alonso, to fill the role of operations vice president.
In addition to software development, Globant also has a full suite of IT maintenance services, and continues to strengthen its cloud computing footprint.
Migoya points to people like Michael Marks, former CEO and now chairman of Flextronics, as a key inspirational supporter. Marks was one of the first Silicon Valley executives to anticipate the rising influence of the Nearshore region in IT services.
Migoya admits that Globant is not a well known outside of Silicon Valley and points out that the company has been cautious about which clients to take on. But as Latin America emerges on the word IT services stage, Globant is undoubtedly going to get noticed – and taken seriously.