Interview Published March 19, 2001|
Sam Khulusi, Vibex SoftwareSam Khulusi is Chairman, President and CEO of Vibex Software (www.vibex.com), and founder of computer products company Creative Computer (PCMall.com, MacMall.com, eLinux.com, eCost.com, uBid.com). His newest venture is Vibex software, an ecommerce software developer.
BK: What is Vibex about?
SK: In answer to you first question, over the last 14 years as both a entrepreneur, and application software developer I've found myself extremely frustrated at how my business processes and objectives were often held hostage to technology. Because of this, I was forced to compromise my business and marketing objectives to fit the requirements of the available technology solutions on many occasions. Aside from having to compromise on my objectives, I found that the time required to implement and execute these objectives far exceeded the actual time needed by the business to gain a competitive edge or meet customers expectations.
Realizing that the core competencies of businesses are industry specific knowledge, marketing, and sales, and not technology, I developed Vibex Software as a solution for business users to be able to run their businesses and make decisions which were not driven by technology.
BK: Tell me a little bit about yourself -- how did you end up founding Creative Computers and eventually Vibex?
SK: I co-founded Creative Computers with my brother to exploit what we saw was an explosive market opportunity for the sale of PCs. Back in 1987, Creative Computers began selling PCs on the Internet through a catalog posted on a CompuServe bulletin board.
Creative Computers today sells nearly $1 billion of computer hardware, software, and peripherals as well as consumer electronics. Under our leadership, Creative developed the engines to power the company's Web sites, which include PCMall.com, MacMall.com, eLinux.com, and eCOST.com. Also, Creative established uBid.com in 1997 as an online auction for excess merchandise, offering closeout and refurbished products to consumers and small to medium-sized businesses. uBid had a highly successful IPO market debut in December of 1998 and was listed as one of the Top Ten Most Successful IPOs in April 1999 by CNet.com reaching a multi-billion dollar market cap. uBid was acquired in early 2000 by Internet venture company CMGI, Inc.
Over the years, I pioneered the development of cutting-edge technology having founded Eruces, Inc., an enterprise security data protection company developing innovative software applications that provide the highest level of database protection. I founded Denim Software, which won wide acclaim for its Illuminaire compositing program, a powerful video painting, compositing, and special-effects program for the PC and Macintosh. A review published in PC Graphics & Video Magazine stated, "Rarely does the first release of a program exhibit such maturity in design and functionality. Illuminaire is an impressive first release that will only improve over time." Denim Software was sold to Discrete Logic in 1997. Another company was Centaur Development, which created OpalVision for the Amiga Computer platform, a graphics card for one of the most sophisticated painting programs available on any computer.
I founded Vibex Software in late 1997 as a solution for business users to be able to run their businesses, make decisions and establish objectives which are not driven by technology. Today Vibex is a leading provider of complete Web-Commerce automation solutions. Vibex has developed a seamless, customized, integrated and extremely scalable Web-commerce and Web-infrastructure solution. This solution represents a breakthrough in the evolution of Web-Commerce/e-Commerce technology.
As recognized by Microsoft, the Vibex Software solution suite represents a significant new development in the Business-to-Business (B2B), Business-to-Consumer (B2C), and Business-to-Exchange (B2E), Markets. The company's new offering will indeed make it easier for enterprises to adopt a new channel of revenue with their customers. The Vibex Software Suite makes it so easy for business people to finally have a pathway to the B2C, B2B or Business Exchange markets they long for. Even better, the solution is also a cost effective low risk solution. Vibex has developed a superior product, incorporating the best practices of the B2C, B2B, and Trading Exchange markets into a commercial product.
BK: Can you tell me a little bit about where Vibex is as a company? Number of employees, funding, profitability?
SK: Vibex was started in late 1998 and today has nearly 50 dedicated employees. Vibex's mission is to develop an open architecture Web Commerce Automation Solution which we brought to market in November of 2000. To date the company has been funded by a number of private investors. Our business model is such that we can reach profitability quickly.
BK: Do you consider yourself a "serial entrepreneur"?
SK: Well this question is rather thought provoking. I guess I would have to say yes inasmuch as I think that I have most of the traits of other "serial entrepreneurs" that I've read about. After a number of successful startups and the creation of wealth, I'm still hard at work recruiting people, working one on one with our developers to tweak and improve our solution and doing any number of other tasks that go along with bootstrapping a new technology business. Technology is a lot of fun. My hobby is doing new and better things in terms of technology. I work with a bunch of extremely bright people to deliver cutting-edge technologies that will change the world. I enjoy the challenge to try and solve problems and deliver something new. I see myself as a person who helps the right kind of technology to see the light of day. Much like a movie producer making movies, I am a technologist who produces technologies through the vehicle of companies. And as shifts keep taking place in the technology space, I keep spotting different opportunities.
Copyright (c) 2001 by Benjamin F. Kuo. All rights reserved.
May not be reprinted without permission.