Christian Gheorghe’s life is a rags-to-riches story worthy of a Disney movie, and no one is more surprised, or grateful, than he is.
He arrived in the U.S. from Communist Romania in the early 1990s speaking no English, with $US26 in his pocket. He lived in a youth hostel and drove a limo for a living.
Today, he’s working on his fourth successful startup, having sold all of his previous ones, including his third one, OutlookSoft, to SAP in 2007 for about $US500 million.
The trajectory of his life — going from Communist Romania to the U.S. — is truly remarkable. In Romania, he made his living selling music records and taught himself a little bit of English by listening to English music like Pink Floyd, he told Business Insider.
When he sold enough records, he bought himself a Commodore 64 knock-off PC, which cost the equivalent of a year’s wages.
“People asked me, are you crazy?” he laughs.
He taught himself to code by hacking into the video games on that machine.
After arriving in the U.S., he stumbled into a job as a limo driver. That’s how he met a man named Andrew Saxe, who would ultimately help him launch his new career. During the ride, Saxe learned about Gheorghe’s interest in computers and told him to come by his office.
Saxe ran a computer software consulting company. He hired Gheorghe, and the two built a company together. That company was one of the earliest that did “big data,” though they didn’t call it that back then.
They sold it to Experian, and Gheorghe found himself CTO for Experian for a few years.
He launched a second startup, TIAN, and merged it with a company called OutlookSoft. Then, SAP came along and bought OutlookSoft. OutlookSoft did a form of big data known as business analytics, where companies slice, dice, report, and predict trends in their business by sifting through their financial transactions.
OutlookSoft was part of a crop of business analytics companies acquired by big enterprise software vendors around that time: Oracle bought Hyperion, IBM bought Cognos, and SAP bought OutlookSoft.
As a result, Gheorghe found himself as a CTO for SAP for a couple of years.
About four years ago, the bug to create a new startup hit again and Tidemark was born. It has all the signs of being another golden venture.
Tidemark also does business analytics/big data, but it’s designed for the modern age: it works on a tablet and runs in the cloud.
More importantly, it is designed to be what Gheorghe calls a “revolution at the edge” with a “Siri-like interface.” That means business folks can use it without help from their IT departments creating pre-programmed reports.
All they have to do is ask Tidemark a question, any question, about how their business is performing like … Why isn’t this product selling? What happens if we assign three more people to this project? What will our sales be next quarter?
Tidemark answers with charts and graphs. It even names the people in the company who could help with the project. It’s like Google mixed with Wolfram|Alpha, personalised for your job, on your tablet.
He’s not the only one creating mobile, cloud-based analysis software. For instance, another hot startup, Anaplan, is doing the same and also doing well.
Still, Tidemark’s approach — ask a question — is different. And it’s already attracting attention. In the first 18 months since his product became available, his company is on track to hit $US45 million in revenue, Gheorghe told us, growing 300% year over year. It has about 45 customers so far, with, on average, 180 business people at each customer using the product.
Tidemark has raised $US93 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, and others.
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