Technopreneur Winston Damarillo strikes again

Michael Alan Hamlin

Posted on April 9, 2008

Morph Labs IPO planned for first half

Not many investors got the opportunity to participate in Winston Damarillo’s early successful startups – Gluecode Software and LogicBlaze – which were quickly acquired by tech heavyweights. Now, there’s a new opportunity. Last week, I spent time with Damarillo and the CEO of his latest venture, David Abramowski as they prepared to launch the first pure-play software IP (intellectual property) initial public offering (IPO) in the history of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

The company, Morph Labs, Inc., provides Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) infrastructure to its global clients. SaaS applications, unlike traditional software that is installed on computer hard disks, are delivered to users over the Internet and licensed for use by customers on a subscription basis. If you’ve heard of Salesforce.com and Netsuite, you know what I’m talking about.

Salesforce.com pioneered SaaS applications with its customer relationship management solution. Today, 41,000 customers use Salesforce.com in 15 languages. Netsuite, which has a development center here, offers a full enterprise solution. Technology analyst IDC recently said disruptive technologies like SaaS will go solidly mainstream in its 2008 forecast. According to a report by RBC Capital Markets, the SaaS industry is in the midst of a five-year period of 43 percent average annual compound growth.

The SaaS model eliminates the need for customers to purchase, install, maintain and upgrade software applications and certain hardware requirements, such as data storage and server systems. According to RBC, SaaS is expected to capture a 23 percent share of the $120 billion US software market by 2010 because it allows users to dramatically reduce IT capital and operating costs, making it particularly attractive to small- and medium-size businesses, according to industry experts.

How does Morph Labs fit in? In a nutshell, the company’s SaaS platform helps SaaS application developers leverage the momentum RBC describes by simplifying and automating the backend infrastructure on which their applications run.

Its infrastructure platform, called Morph AppSpace, allows SaaS application developers to set up the backend for their applications – a task that routinely requires two systems specialists two weeks to set up multiple servers – in just minutes online, according to Abramowski.“By subscribing to AppSpace, application developers eliminate the need to develop and maintain their own SaaS infrastructure,” Abramowski explained.

AppSpace is accessed via an online marketplace for SaaS applications called MorpheXchange. Abramowski told me that over 100 SaaS developers are already using MorpheXchange for deploying, delivering and managing applications globally over the Internet. MorpheXchange also serves as a meeting place for SaaS developers and prospective customers.

“The advantage of the MorpheXchange is that it enables both sides of the supply and demand ecosystem to quickly interact. Through the MorpheXchange, SaaS application developers can quickly develop and market their products and easily find new customers while prospective users have a single site to search for and evaluate new applications,” Damarillo explained. He envisions the MorpheXchange to become the leading global marketplace for SaaS applications.

Morph Application Platform was developed in the Philippines by Filipino engineers for the global market. Most SaaS application developers using the platform are international firms, Damarillo told me. But he believes that Morph AppSpace holds great promise for local developers. “Morph Application Platform will hugely benefit our nation’s software entrepreneurs who can now easily deliver their SaaS applications to their customers regardless of where they are located.”

Damarillo is known throughout the industry for founding three successful technology start-ups prior to Morph Labs. Gluecode Software was acquired in 2005 by IBM and its products were incorporated into IBM’s Websphere application server. LogicBlaze, a provider of open-source, service-oriented architecture technology, was acquired last year by Iona. Another startup, Exist Global, named to the Red Herring 100 Asia in 2006, is a software services company.

In November 2007, the Morph Labs launched its first application, Morph helpME, which facilitates the development of help and training sites. In January 2008, MopheXchange was formally launched and additional application suites such as MorphExpense and MorphHR, under development in 2007, will soon be launched. Currently, Morph has a total of over 120 MorphAppSpace subscribers, over 185 Moph helpME subscribers and over 400 MorpheXchange subscribers.

Last Friday, Morph filed its Registration Statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission formally notifying regulatory authorities of its intent to proceed with an IPO planned for the second quarter of 2008. It filed its Listing Application with the PSE the same day. For investors interested in becoming a little part of history – and in the prospect of a rewarding return – let me repeat myself: Now’s the chance.

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