Jive Software Opens The Scotch And Celebrates Its IPO

Jive software scotch opening
Jive cofounder Matt Tucker watches as boardmember Bill Lanfri opens the good stuff.

[credit provider=”Matt Rosoff Business Insider”]

Last year, we toured Jive Software’s Palo Alto headquarters and were introduced to the bottle of 1952 Macallan scotch they kept behind glass for a “material public event” — an IPO or sale.Today, Jive had its first board meeting since the company’s successful IPO in December, and Business Insider got an exclusive invitation to watch as boardmember Bill Lanfri broke the bottle out for the executive team and the board — including Google Chrome leader Sundar Pichai, former Facebook exec Jonathan Heiliger, and former McAfee CEO Dave DeWalt.

The rest of the company joined in with 21-year-old scotch and champagne, taking a break from the business of building and selling software that lets big companies communicate and share information internally and with customers — a mission that they often liken to building a Facebook for the enterprise.

“Lots of companies claim to be Facebook for the enterprise,” explained Tony Zingale, “but being a public company sets a very high bar.”

About that scotch: Lanfri explained that founder Matt Tucker once told him he’d never drunk scotch older than 21 years. So Lanfri made it his mission to find an older bottle, and eventually secured one from England. He brought it into Palo Alto and kept it under lock and key for this moment.

Tucker poured carefully — a bottle like this runs more than $5,000 — then told us about the 11-year road to Jive’s public offering.

Jive software scotch pouring
Jive employees and board members watch as the scotch is poured. Don’t spill it!

[credit provider=”Matt Rosoff Business Insider”]

In 2000, he and Bill Lynch packed up from their childhood home in Iowa, where the company was first incorporated, to set up shop in New York.Every night on the road, they stayed in a motel with a fireproof safe. They used it to store three things: Jive’s incorporation papers, a CD-ROM with the software source code, and a copy of Quickbooks to keep track of finances.

Tucker and Lynch arrived on September 1, 2001, and immediately set up a meeting with Dave Hersh, who had done some consulting for them and would eventually become Jive’s CEO for almost nine years.

“The day Dave was going to meet up with Bill and I was September 11th,” explained Tucker. “Bill started commuting from the east side, then went back around the west side and saw the second tower fall.”

Tucker continued, “That was the context of Jive back in the early days: crazy hard economic times with the collapse of the dot-coms, then New York right after September 11th, and by the way doing the least-cool software market possible back then, which was community software — we didn’t have the word ‘social,’ it was way before Facebook, it was way before Friendster and MySpace.”

But the founders loved what they were doing, and eventually grew it into a bootstrapped company. “It would have been impossible to take funding because the market was so crappy,” says Bill Lynch.

In 2004, they decided to move to a cheaper place where they could scale their business. The Bay Area was out — it was just as expensive as New York and engineering talent was spread thin.

They ended up in Portland, Oregon. Why Portland?

“It was a Goldilocks process,” explains Tucker. “We visited Seattle, Portland, and Boulder, Colorado. Seattle felt a little bit too big, Boulder felt a little bit too small, and Portland was just right….You start turning over rocks and you find a lot of great engineers, and people love to live there, it’s a great city to live in.”

Jive still has its biggest office in Portland, but moved its headquarters to Palo Alto in 2010, and replaced Hersh with CEO Tony Zingale. With the addition of some high-profile board members in March of last year, the company was ready to go public.

So what’s next? The founders didn’t want to give any secrets away, but felt very confident that Jive would become the dominant company in social enterprise software. Eventually, they hope Jive is mentioned in the same class as Salesforce.com or even Microsoft.

“We think the market will support a company that is at that stage and size, and that doesn’t come along every often. Every once in a while there’s a great new market opportunity. And usually there can be one new company that becomes a leader in that market. That’s our opportunity.”