Local company acquired by Microsoft • Current edition

Nine years ago, Jon Gilman was a consultant for Fortune 500 companies. He noted that they were often sold automated software to solve business problems that typically didn’t deliver what they promised.

Gilman’s solution was to create Clear Software, a Zionsville-based company that Microsoft acquired last month.

“I would mind if companies were spending so much money and time on something that did the opposite of what they promised,” Gilman said. “So I started tinkering around to create an automation platform on top of these systems so that they could actually deliver on that initial promise. “

Gilman started what would become Clear Software at the age of 30 while living in Chicago. It was a side project that occupied its time nights and weekends. He got his first client in 2012 and in 2014 his family moved to Zionsville, where his wife, Lyndsay is from. In 2015, Clear Software became Gilman’s full-time job. Employees have been hired. An office has been rented in town. And over the past year, Gilman said the company began pitching offerings from major tech companies before completing the acquisition by Microsoft on October 22.

Gilman declined to disclose what Microsoft was offering in compensation for the acquisition. Attempts to reach Microsoft for comment were unsuccessful.

“We were approached by Microsoft earlier this year to talk about a partnership, and the more we talked about working together, the more we realized that an acquisition was probably a better option,” said Gilman. “It has a lot to do with what’s going on in our market right now in our space. In the automation industry, everyone is swallowed up. There’s been a ton of acquisitions and mergers, so I think there’s a bit of a fear of missing out on a lot of the big tech companies (that) “If we don’t get this technology now, then we’ll never be gonna get it because it’s gonna be swallowed up.

Clear Software officials were in talks with several companies interested in acquiring the company, but Microsoft acted first. Gilman said Clear Software will continue to operate from its Zionsville office at 112 N. 9th St. until its lease expires in January 2023, then the company will move to Microsoft’s site in Indianapolis, near Keystone Fashion Mall.

Gilman declined to say how many employees work at Clear Software.

“In 2012, I thought I wanted to build this as big as Microsoft and make it a big software company, but I think along the way I realized it would take decades to do it,” he said. Gilman said. “It took decades for all of these companies to get to this, so one best possible outcome I thought of at the time was for us to take it for granted.

“It was either gotten big and (having an initial public offering) or being acquired, so we had one of two positive results.”

Zionsville resident Gilman said the Microsoft acquisition would allow him to spend more time and “be more mentally present” with his wife and their three children: Emerson, Lenore and Graham.

Clear Software and Zionsville Chamber of Commerce employees pause in front of their desks.

A zWORKS success story

After moving to Zionsville in 2014, Gilman started working in zWORKS, a city coworking space. There, Gilman met most of the firm’s biggest investors.

Between the venture capitalists Gilman met at zWORKS and some of the wealthiest people in Zionsville that he met through zWORKS, he estimates that $ 6 million of the $ 7 million the company raised at his beginnings came in a way from connections established through zWORKS.

“When we learn that one of our startups has been acquired or has been very successful in its own way, it confirms why we are here and exist in Zionsville,” zWORKS Executive Director Vickie Hall said in an e- mail. “Our mission and our vision have come true. It gives us satisfaction and a happy heart as we address a need in our community and provide the necessary roots for businesses to thrive here. “

But Gilman said other local organizations, including the City of Zionsville, the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce and individual Zionsville residents, have been instrumental in the company’s success.

What Microsoft has acquired

Clear Software provides a business automation and integration platform with strong connectivity to SAP and Oracle, the two most widely used enterprise, resource, and planning software. The company will now work with Microsoft’s development and product teams to integrate its product into Microsoft’s Power Platform.

“Microsoft’s Power Platform offers a number of different products that allow large organizations to automate business processes to create really interesting dashboards and reports that give them a sense of how the business is doing and tools that allow them to leverage their data to find out where they add customers, experience issues, or internal business process issues, ”said Gilman. “All of these tools are great. The problem is, they really don’t have any connectivity to the system that these clients are actually using. These large companies primarily run on SAP and Oracle for much of their core business and accounting processes, and Microsoft does not have connectivity to these systems. And this is where we specialize.

Microsoft wants to simplify the integration of various systems when building business applications with Microsoft Power Platform, and Clear Software’s platform should facilitate that goal. In a company blog post, Microsoft said that the acquisition of Clear Software “will strengthen Microsoft Power Platform’s integration with external systems and accelerate the way customers leverage the data and processes that reside across the country. beyond Microsoft’s proprietary services ”.

“Organizations depend on their business applications to run seamlessly across many different systems and data stores,” Stephen Siciliano, general manager of Microsoft / Power Automate, said in the company’s Power Platform blog. “Customers should know that their most critical business processes are designed to work best on those systems and data sets, regardless of the complexity of the process. “

Gilman will become the acquired product planner within Microsoft, but he said the product does not yet have a name. It is not known whether this will be a standalone product or bundled with other Microsoft products.

“There are a lot of unknowns right now, and what we need to do is sit all the other Microsoft product owners in one room and figure it out,” Gilman said.

Gladys T. Hensley