A team of e-business developers who found life inside Mincom too stifling have attracted $40 million worth of backing for their ideas outside the company. Their achievement highlights the wealth of talent locked inside Australia's largest software developer. It also lends weight to critics who ask why Mincom has not moved more decisively in recent years to raise badly needed capital by spinning off internal business units.
The breakaway group was associated with the evolution of the LinkOne electronic parts catalogue, now the heart of Mincom's Innotech Solutions division.
Frustrated by what they saw as a lack of support within Mincom, the entire 11-person LinkOne team left during a two-and-a-half month period last year. Less than six months later, a company using the team's skills floated on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market for 15 million pounds ($40.5 million).
Ten of the 11 now work for the research and development arm of NRX Global in London, where the company was floated in November. The president of NRX Global Australia Nick Ruddock, is a 10-year Mincom veteran and former general manager of the LinkOne business unit. Also with NRX Global is Gerry Berger, the 17-year Mincom staffer who created the LinkOne product in 1990.
While inside Mincom, the team felt their efforts to grow the business unit were not being supported. They claim the situation did not improve following the arrival of new CEO Frank Berger in February last year. Within five months of his arrival, the entire business unit left. They reassembled as Gengis, a company focused on developing e-business software on a contract basis. Their first customer, Canadian mining exchange hopeful NRX, offered to buy Gengis. The idea was to turn it into a listed vehicle, providing electronic links between equipment makers, dealers and operators of asset-intensive operations.
The deal went through in nine weeks and NRX Global now has 52 employees, and a 15-person application development group in Brisbane.
Ruddock said NRX Global had actively approached Mincom with proposals for co-operation but had been rebuffed.
A Mincom spokesperson said NRX Global "may be hypothetically operating in some of the same space", but was not regarded as a direct competitor to Innotech Solutions, LinkOne product.
The spokesman said there were "some legal matters" between the two companies, but declined to specify their nature.