IDGNS: A private equity firm bought Epicor and Activant and merged the companies. What benefits have you gained by going private?
Qureshi: The time horizons are longer. Don't get me wrong, we're still focused on hitting quarterly numbers and annual numbers. But there isn't the intense, "I'm going to worry about every penny per share." There is an intense focus on, how can I make this company a better asset, so five years from now or whenever there is an exit, the value of the firm is higher so we provide a better return. My job is to make this company more valuable as an asset than it is today.
IDGNS: Private-equity firms often look to extract cash from their portfolios. Given this, how can customers be assured that you can deliver a long-term road map without making compromises?
Qureshi: I think history is the best assurance. When I ran Activant, it was owned by two private-equity firms. Neither of them extracted cash during the period they held us.
IDGNS: Can you talk about your longer-term SaaS strategy?
Qureshi: The area where we push SaaS explicitly is on the low end [with Epicor Express]. We've just done that in the Americas and we're launching it in EMEA and APAC in the next few months. We have just under 200 customers on that today.
The plan is always to go upmarket. It's always been our plan to offer the Epicor platform, whether standard or enterprise edition, in a SaaS format. Epicor Express is a way of testing our readiness from a hosting center perspective, being able to support the product, pricing and packaging. It's all about seeing how it works.
If today, a customer wants [other Epicor editions] today in a SaaS deployment, we'll make that available for them. But we're not pushing it today.
IDGNS: Epicor has embraced Microsoft's development technology stack and is also planning to extensively use its Azure cloud service, yet you also compete with the company's Dynamics ERP products.
Qureshi: Recognize that when you're talking to large companies, don't think of them as monolithic. With Microsoft, there's the infrastructure side of the house and there's the application side of the house. Our relationship is very close and based on mutual credibility. They value our input, because we do use their stack in a deep way. That's true as far as road maps and specific features.