08:03 AM

Gauruv Dhillon's SnapLogic: Creating The Connections For The Business Internet

I recently had a chance to catch up with one of my favorite Silicon Valley serial entrepreneurs Gauruv Dhillon. I first met Mr Dhillon when I was at the FT and he was CEO of Informatica, one of the top software companies in Silicon Valley.

These days he is founder, chairman, and CEO of SnapLogic, a startup that has built a technology platform that creates data "connectors" between different systems. For example, you could take Twitter data and run it through your business intelligence system, or connect your security system data with your HR system.

There are millions of permutations in connecting different systems and today that figure continues to rise as new APIs are published and as new web applications are developed that integrated multiple flows of data.

If you have the right connector, or "snaps" as the company calls them, you can connect any system and any application.

"When I started Informatica in 1992 we were on the cusp of the client server revolution. Today I feel the same tingle of excitement because there is another software epoch beginning," says Mr Dhillon.

"Whenever there is disruption in a market there is the opportunity to succeed provided you are on the right side," says Mr Dhillon.

He doesn't like to use the term "cloud computing" because it is over used. "It seems cloud computing jumped the shark very quickly and now it is applied very broadly. I prefer to use the term that Marc Andreessen uses "business computing."

Marc Andreessen, one of SIlicon Valley's top VCs and Internet pioneers, is one of the investors in SnapLogic, which last month raised $2.3m for its Series A.

Flying upside down . . .

Mr Dhillon has never been one to follow fashionable trends. "You need to have a true north to guide your business. In Silicon Valley we like to fly upside down sometimes and that's why you need a compass to move your business beyond what's fashionable."

The timing for SnapLogic seems to be very good. There is an explosion of web based application development, and there are huge numbers of legacy IT systems, and integration continues to be an expensive business -- about $10bn a year.

SnapLogic believes that it can make integration a lot easier, quicker, and cheaper -- especially if it can convince developers and consultants to create "snaps" and then sell them through its recently launched "SnapStore," which shares the revenues, with 70% going to the developer.

SnapLogic's revenues also come from licensing its snap building technology for use internally or as a hosted service.

One key challenge will be to convince developers and consultants to create snaps for sale. They already have much of the technology and it would be a simple port to the SnapLogic platform but they make a good living in custom integration projects. Why should they make available the tools of their trade?

"Developers and consultants will create snaps because they will earn a good income and it will also likely lead to new clients that discover them through our SnapStore."

That's the carrot. The stick is that if they don't create snaps for their particular area of expertise, others might do it instead and that will threaten their business.

It'll be interesting to see if SnapLogic can succeed in helping to disrupt the lucrative systems integration business.