MIT, Stanford and Harvard may have written case studies about his company but Martín Migoya, CEO of Globant, an Argentine-based design- and innovation-focused technology service provider, is not big on business plans.
In fact, he and three friends hatched their vision for the company, in which leading communications group WPP recently bought a 20 per cent stake for $70m, in a bar in Buenos Aires with no business plan in sight.
Instead, they had two central ideas: to provide innovation, drawing on a pool of creative Latin talent; and to focus sales on America and Europe, rather than Latin America. A business plan eventually became necessary, Migoya concedes, once they needed to raise capital, but “nothing replaces a clear concept. There’s no business plan that can better that.”
Globant turns 10 this year. It may not – yet – be a household name, but chances are, you’ll have had more contact with the company than you think, or at least your children will. It has worked on development of popular video and online games, including FIFA, Godfather II and Kung Fu Panda World, for example, with big name partners including Electronic Arts and Dreamworks.
Indeed, it boasts an impressive list of clients, among them Google, Cisco, JP Morgan Chase, Travelocity, Coca-Cola, LinkedIn, Moneygram, BBVA, National Geographic and American Express. Its website, like the company, makes technogeekdom look cool, where a quirky cartoon of a jet-propelled surfer shows how it can help companies “surf the technology wave”, illustrating more clearly than thousands of words of corporate IT-speak about “solutions” exactly what Globant offers: innovative software products appealing to global audiences.
The obvious next step for a company which trumpets its grand ambitions – “Think Big” is one of its six core values (“Have Fun” is another) – is an IPO, something the company has been talking about for a while.
A stock market float would make it the first transnational Latin technology company, but Globant is biding its time, waiting for the right market conditions. “It’s always on our radar… we think it would be really important,” says Migoya, though he adds: “I can’t talk in detail.”
Globant, which has garnered financial backing from Riverwood Capital, FTV Capital and entrepreneur promotion group Endeavour, has, meanwhile, been expanding. “I’m a fanatic of organic growth,” Migoya says, adding that coming acquisitions will be “strategic and very focused” – like its recent forays into Brazil and the US.
As a privately-held company, Globant does not detail its finances. But it says turnover in the first half of 2012 was $56.9m, after $90m in 2011.
In October last year, Globant bought Brazil’s TerraForum, a software and innovation company with a similar corporate ethos, in a deal Migoya said at the time meant Globant was “moving forward towards our goal of building a multinational company, opening and conquering markets all over the world”.
In August 2011, it bought San Francisco-based Nextive, beefing up its mobile applications division and ticking another globally aspirational box – creating job opportunities in the US as part of its drive for a company fostering talent worldwide.
The WPP deal “shows where we want to go” says Migoya, in making Globant a much more integrated company, and expects it to help raise the company’s profile.
It has learned a lot from Google, one of its oldest clients. Just as Googlers staff the search engine and web company, Migoya employs some 2,500 “Globers”, whose open-plan office boasts a ping-pong table in the canteen, inspiration areas like a pit filled with colourful balls, a chill-out room complete with electric guitars and whiteboards for scribbling ideas should inspiration strike. “Creative people need creative spaces, happy spaces,” Migoya chuckles.
Not everything has worked out. Migoya mentions deals done by Globant in Asia, which didn’t go well and lacked scale. In Mexico, another big Latin American market, meanwhile, the company still has only a small presence.
But as well as eight locations in Argentina – it is committed to spreading talent within countries as well as internationally, allowing its staff, say, to return to their hometowns to work – it also has operations in Montevideo, Bogotá, San Francisco, Boston, Austin and London.
“Globant wants to be a global player and to be the best in the world,” Migoya says, simply. And his corporate logo proclaims: “We are ready.”
Corporate Watch file, beyondbrics