In terms of technology, 2013 was the year of memorable moments for iText 5.4.0. We released six iText versions: in 5.4.0 in February, 5.4.1 in April, 5.4.2 in May, 5.4.3 in July, 5.4.4 in September and 5.4.5 in December.
But technology is only one aspect of iText. Let's take a look at was new on the iText business front in 2013. This is the year 2013 in pictures, listing the most memorable moments.
Whoever reads the iText books and examples, knows that we love movies. It shouldn't be a surprise that we actively support the movie industry by participating in different Tax Shelter initiatives. One of these initiatives brought us to Cinecittà in Rome, where we visited the set of the HBO series "Rome" and where we were allowed to take a look behind the scenes of the movie "Third Person" directed by Paul Haggis and produced by Corsan. We witnessed the shooting of a couple of takes featuring Olivia Wilde and Liam Neeson. When we look at the business side of the iText Group, we see that we had plenty of contacts with the Belgian Government in January. These contacts led to a couple of interesting projects.
In February, iText sponsored the Java Dev Room at FOSDEM: iText is very active in different fields of technology. For instance: we were a member of the steering committee of the eID & ePassport Conference. On February 18, we had the kick-off meeting for the conference that would take place in October:
In March, we went to Silicon Valley with two goals:
1.To attend the Open Source Think Tank: 2.To talk to investors and powers that be at different companies about the further professionalization of the iText companies: Back home, we discovered that iText was mentioned in a Flemish magazine:
In April, we went to Paris to talk to a consulting firm, but we decided against working with them. We also took a short break, but apparently we didn't take any pictures of Paris (or at least: we can't find any).
We also had a less pleasant experience: we had outsourced the design and development of a new web site for iText to a web agency, but we were very unhappy with the result. In April, it became clear that the new site didn't meet our needs. In May, we decided to kill the project.
We started the month of May with a company lunch at one of our favorite restaurants: Het Korenhuis. One week later, we were present in Vienna for the ISO committee meetings: On May 28th, Bruno Lowagie presented the lessons learned from his trips to Berlin, Silicon Valley and Paris in Kortrijk. It was the first tryout for a talk, our CEO hopes to give at OSCON 2014. The 20-minute talk was entitled "Control vs. Wealth decisions":
In June, a handful of iText developers went to beautiful Königswinter to discuss the future of PDF: We also finalized the restructuring operation of our companies. Before, the structure of the three iText companies were more or less independent from each other. By the end of the month of June, the new structure looked like this:
By July, the ideas of which direction to take with our companies had crystallized. There is no "foreign money" in the group and, although a couple of VCs were very interested to invest in iText, we decided to scale the group using our own resources. A first step would be to change "1T3XT BVBA" into "iText Group NV". The rules for having an NV are much stricter than the rules for a BVBA. For instance: a board of directors is mandatory for an NV. So We returned to California, first to talk to different candidates for the board, then to talk to potential candidates for the management staff.
After having dinner in a Chinese restaurant, our CEO found this message in his fortune cookie: This is our eldest son, waiting in the lobby of the attorney in San Francisco who helped us restructuring the companies. Once our meetings in Silicon Valley completed, we drove South towards San Diego, with a stop near San Luis Obispo to visit Montaña de Oro:
After his talk at the European PDF Conference in Königswinter, our CEO brought an updated talk at the North-American PDF Conference in Seattle: This is a picture taken during Bruno's talk: Bruno was also a member of different panels: At the end of the month, iText Software Corp. opened an office for iText in the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) near Boston: In the US, we used to work with self-employed sales people on commission. From now on we work with sales people on payroll, just like we do in Europe. We took the opportunity of having an advisory board meeting in Boston, preparing for the upcoming company changes.
Our CEO must have been flying quite some miles, because KLM switched his card from Ivory to Silver (although he flew with Brussels Airlines too this year). Just like last year, we had a booth at JavaOne. The booth was manned by the brand new iText team in the USA and our Belgian lead developer: After killing the new web site design in May, we decided to release a home-made, Drupal-based minimalistic web site. It was a much cheaper solution and although we didn't make an event out of it (we were still licking our wounds after the initial failure), the new site was well received.
In October, a Wikipedia moderator nominated the page about iText for deletion. Fortunately, different people improved the page and the nomination was undone. We're still looking for people who want to translate this page into other languages (because we're not sure if we're allowed to maintain our own page).
October turned out to be a successful month. We obtained the 10th place in Deloitte's Technology Fast 50 in the Benelux. Afterwards, we learned that we're on place 53 in the EMEA Fast 500. Thanks to this event, we received quite some attention from the press and we also received a certificate: In the second half of October, we were present at the eID & ePassport conference:
In November, our CEO did a small roadshow in Belgium, talking about bootstrapping an open source business at the BetaGroup Kortrijk, Rotary Club Vilvoorde, and the Business Angels Network in Antwerp. The talks were a success, so let's hope the proposal for OSCON 2014 gets accepted.We didn't get an opportunity to present this talk for an audience of open source developers yet (and that's the target audience). At the end of the month, we had our traditional "European Thanksgiving" dinner.
December started with yet another ISO committee meeting. This time, the PDF brains met in the offices of the National Archives and Administrative Records (NARA) in New York. While in New York, we took the opportunity to visit some people that could help us with scaling the iText business. For instance: we had a meeting with the people at BelCham, the Belgian Chamber of Commerce that has its seat at the KBC offices in New York: On December 18th, we went to a notary to sign the documents that convert 1T3XT BVBA into iText Group NV. We're one of the bigger IT companies in Belgium now. Let's make it one of the bigger companies in Europe next year.
To be continued...
What does 2014 have in store for us? We'll start by moving into a new office in Belgium, and we'll have the first board meeting of our NV in January. We'll attend the Open Source Think Tank in March. We'll have a second iText summit in June (save that date: June 17, either in Köln or in Düsseldorf). We hope to be selected for OSCON in July. We're 99% certain that we'll get another nomination for Deloitte's Fast 50 in the Benelux, but we'll also try to get nominated for the USA Fast 500. But most importantly: 2014 will be a great year if we succeed in doubling the number of employees. We'll start hiring developers, sales people and senior staff members soon, so keep watching our blog for news. What does 2014 have in store for you? We wish you all the best in the new year. If we've met or done business with each other in 2013, we hope we can meet again and continue doing business with you in 2014. If we haven't met or done business with each other, let's meet and start working together! In any case, we wish a fantastic 2014 to all! P.S. Our CEO has published his personal year in pictures on lowagie.com.