After five heads-down years at the helm of Berwyn-based Boomi, CEO Bob Moul says it was time to be more active within the Philadelphia community.
“I feel like it’s incumbent on us to give back to the community to give back what we learned,” he says. “I feel like a rising tide will raise all boats.”
Since Boomi’s November 2nd, 2010 acquisition by Dell, Moul’s name has popped up on panels and advisory boards all around the city. At a time when most leaders take a long-overdue vacation, Moul has joined the board of Mid-Atlantic Diamond Ventures, become a regular at entrepreneurial events around the city and is organizing a cloud computing event for PACT.
“We’re trying to avoid death by Powerpoint and be more West Coast-y,” says Moul of the conference, which will feature author Nick Carr as a keynote speaker. “We’re doing it downtown and not in the ‘burbs at World Cafe Live.”
Meanwhile, he is still helping to lead Boomi’s transition from an independent company to becoming the vanguard of Dell’s new cloud solutions strategy.
We sat down with Moul to discuss his busy schedule and the bear hugs he gave out when Boomi’s sale to Dell became final.
As always, edited for length and clarity.
We’ve noticed your name popping up all over the place around Philadelphia. What have you been up to?
My absolute number one job is running Boomi, we just had a record quarter so things are going well with our integration into Dell. I’m doing a lot of mentoring and advising at the moment, and that’s one of the things we can improve upon in this town. I’ve also joined DreamIt [Ventures] and I’m mentoring Feedback Trail, and I’m kind of an informal mentor to CloudMine.
I’m also doing a lot of speaking. [Boomi founder] Rick [Nucci] and I are also doing an interview on the Boomi story for Ben Franklin Technology Partners. We’re just trying to help and share experiences.
It’s unusual to see a CEO from the suburbs become successful and then dive into the Philadelphia technology community. Why do you think that is?
Admittedly, The first problem was that we were having trouble hiring for Boomi. I realized that after five years of heads down of running the company, we hadn’t done a good job of building presence in the community. We had some incredible jobs here for cloud architects and developers and nobody knew about them.
At the same time, I feel like its incumbent on us to give back to the community to give back what we learned. I feel like a rising tide will raise all boats. It will create opurtunites and jobs, finding great people for companies like Dell Boomi.
I think it’s a missing link, having more people give back helping mentoring and advising.
What was it like to sell the company?
We were so overwhelmed with getting the deal done, it wasn’t until we got the deal signed and a bunch of Dell people came and I announced it at a full team meeting that it started to dawn on us.
Michael Dell even came. That night we had a happy hour and that’s when [Boomi founder] Rick [Nucci] and I could finally look at each other and slap high fives and bear hug. It was the greatest feeling I’ve ever had in my career.
We just picture you getting a phone call with someone happily exclaiming that Dell wanted to buy you.
They all start out as “let’s partner” and we’re like “cool, lets do that.” After you get into two or three meetings they reveal that they’d liked to buy your company. We had that conversation over half a dozen times from 2009 to 2010 with different entities.
What has you most excited about the Philadelphia entrepreneurial community these days?
The raw potential in the people, the talent, there’s just so much. This city is capable of doing if we can just get out of our own way and start to believe in each other and celebrate or successes more that criticizing them. We have all the raw material: great universities and great talent. I just hope to be able to help that.