There’s a new tech company downtown in the World Trade Center Building at 118 Broadway St., and it’s working hard to become the next high-growth tech company to emerge from the San Antonio tech district.
After a rebranding and relaunch, Assembla, which was acquired by venture fund Scaleworks in May, is a San Antonio-based worldwide Software as a Service (SaaS) company ready to take the local tech scene by storm.
SaaS is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is centrally hosted and licensed on a subscription basis. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software,” meaning users typically access it via web browser. For example, if you have Microsoft Office 365 on your laptop, then you’re using a SaaS cloud-based software service rather than maintaining and updating the software yourself.
A source code repository is a file archive and web hosting facility where a large amount of source code for software or for web pages is kept. Typically, you want to keep your source code safe and secure. Lose or corrupt the source code and you’re in a world of hurt.
This is the market space in which Assembla resides, providing SaaS services for teams that work in the cloud. Assembla services software developers, outsourcers, and service providers working on continuous collaborative relationships with their clients – collaborations that require code developers and project managers for websites or software to be able to work together in a common cloud-based platform.
“Developers are looking for a code repository where they can store and maintain version control of their software but are struggling with the added wrinkle of now having to integrate their project management teams as well,” Vice President of Sales Dax Moreno said. “Assembla allows project managers and developers to coexist easily in the same platform and application.”
There are three main code repositories at Assembla, ones that are commonly held in the industry: GIT (a version control system used for software development), SVN (Apache Subversion is abbreviated as SVN and is a software versioning and revision control system), and Perforce (a commercial, proprietary revision control system). Assembla provides space for these three types of code repositories for its clients.
“We give developers the place to store code for whatever the client is working on, a secure and stable place to store code,” said Curtis Morris, vice president for customer success. “The unique thing about Assembla is that we provide both code repositories for clients and a common platform for project managers and code developers to work on building better software together. This market is migrating to having coders and project management in the same space. Instead of two products, two services, you get one seamless, integrated user experience.”
Assembla workspaces are popular with consultants, outsourcers, studios, and agencies, because teams can start quickly, invite colleagues and clients, and put a complete project in one place. It is home for more than 100,000 client projects and one million users in over 100 countries. The leadership team is headquartered in San Antonio.
Founded in 2006, Assembla is a mature company that is well recognized in its market.
“There’s plenty of competitors in the market, but the way we differentiate ourselves is with the quality of our service and support,” CEO Paul Lynch said. “We have a good foundation for client support and service. It’s what we focus on to set ourselves apart.”
“That is not the industry norm, people typically send an email to a service provider and wait for a reply, whereas we answer all calls no matter when they come in,” Morris added.
With veteran Rackers like Moreno and Morris now in leadership positions at Assembla, that dedication to customer support permeates Assembla’s culture and customer service ethos.
“There are few market leaders and there are 20-30 others that have joined the market recently,” Lynch continued. “We’ve been around since 2006, and we focus on the security and privacy of clients’ data – it’s well-protected, backed up, and only available to them, as we maintain account boundaries.”
Cybersecurity is a key differentiator for Assembla, as a dedicated team handles operations and ensures continuity. Security monitoring is a key part of Assembla’s risk assessment management.
“By moving the headquarters to San Antonio (from Massachusetts), we can leverage the deep pool of talent that’s here,” Moreno said. “There’s a lot of technically expert people who are looking to get into SaaS or into more of an entrepreneurial workplace.”
“SaaS is spreading and expanding internationally, and this growth creates its own challenges as we expand into new markets,” Lynch said. “We need technically fluent people who are also fluent in different languages.”
As for future plans, Assembla is working hard to grow its customer base.
“I’d say we still have 5-10 years to go before San Antonio becomes better known as a tech city,” CTO Jacek Materna said. “The biggest gaps I see are in cybersecurity and application development. As the Houston tech corridor develops and the talent pool of world class technical talent gets deeper here, Assembla will continue to expand its local staff.”
“We anticipate opening a European office in either London or Dublin in early 2017, with an Asia office slated for later 2017 to open in Sydney,” Lynch said.
Materna explained that the last successful tech company exit was 17 years ago, when Cisco bought Wheel Group for $124 million in stock. Wheel Group’s founders then went on to establish SecureLogix. It’s been quiet in San Antonio’s tech space ever since, so Assembla strives to grow into an upward of $50 million tech company and become that next big exit with a successful initial public offering.
“San Antonio needs one big win, where a tech company expands, grows revenue, then exits,” Lynch explained. “That would put us on the map and further attract investors here. That’s our goal – to be No. 1 in our space and help fuel the growth in San Antonio,” Lynch added.
As the new overseas offices are being set up, Assembla is going to need more talent to fuel its growth. With exceptional customer service as its differentiation, solid business development, a compelling local story of a tech company now established in San Antonio’s tech corridor, and solid products, all Assembla needs is to continually build on sales to fulfill its vision.
Top image: Designer Rae Cabello works at the Assembla offices. Photo by Scott Ball.