SQR Timeline 1999 – 2009

Last week we saw the origin of nine companies that owned or influenced the SQR programming language: Brio, D&N Systems, Hyperion, Oracle, Peoplesoft, Ray Ontko & Company, SQ Software, Sqribe, and Sybase.  We saw the maturation of the feature set and what I called “The Golden Age” of MITI and Sqribe.  In 1999 and beyond, SQR became part of an ever larger and more diverse product line.

Mergers And Acquisitions

1999: SRI Technologies was founded in Sydney, Australia.  It released SqrPlus Workbench, an integrated editor, compiler, and debugger.  Now in version 7.7, SqrPlus Workbench incorporates SRI’s entire product line.

August 1999: Brio Technology acquired Sqribe Software for 13.2 million shares of stock worth about $270 million.  Afterwards, Ofir Kedar owned 17% of the combined company.  Yorgen Edholm and Katherine Glassey shared 16%.  General Atlantic Partners and associates owned 11%.

Kedar became Brio’s chairman of the board.  Brio rebranded the SQR product line as follows and bundled it as Brio.One.

PowerSqribe Brio Report Activator
ReportMart Brio Portal
SQR Brio Report Server
SQR Viewer Brio Report Viewer
Visual Sqribe Brio Report Builder

November 1999: Brio announced Brio.Report 5.2 containing SQR Server 5.2, Personal SQR 5.2 (a single-user Windows based version of SQR Server), Brio.Report Builder 5.2, Brio Report Viewer 5.2, Brio.Report Activator 5.2 (three ActiveX components), and Brio.Insight 6.0.1 (web browser plug-in).

January 2000: Kedar founded venture capital firm Wingspring Capital, based in Pleasanton, California.  Years later, he founded film studio Enigma Entertainment (or Enigma International), based in Los Altos Hills, California.  It co-produced “Loco Love” in 2003.

2000: Brio Technology released SQR version 6.0 and licensed the source code of the compilers and report servers to Peoplesoft Corporation.  Version 6.0 added color printing.

SQR version 6.1.3 and 6.1.4 added support for unicode and bit-level operations, which were not included in the Peoplesoft version.

March 2000: Nuvosoft Inc. announced Rwiz, an automatic SQR program generator.  Nuvosoft was founded in 1998 by France Lampron in Watertown, MA.  Over the years, Nuvosoft developed a line of Human Resources analytical software (Rcomp, Rbenefits, Rperformance).  In February 2007, Nuvosoft was bought by Plateau Systems of Arlington, Virginia.  At that point, Lampron founded Enterprise Information Resources to retain the Rwiz product family and the Peoplesoft consulting & professional services business.

As of March 31, 2000, Brio had 573 employees.

June 2000: Brio moved to a new corporate headquarters in Santa Clara, California.

In third quarter 2000, NEON posted record revenues and earnings by selling software to other companies in exchange for equity in those companies; booking the sales as non-cash revenue.  When this was disclosed, NEON stock dropped over 50% on November 21, 2000.  (Headley, et al. v. New Era of Networks, Inc., et al., reported in Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse in cooperation with Cornerstone Research).  In June 2001, Sybase completed acquisition of NEON in an exchange of stock worth about $373 million – a decline of 91% from NEON’s 2000 high .

January 2001: Brio hired Craig Brennan as president and CEO.  Yorgen Edholm resigned from Brio but stayed on as co-chairman of the board.  Brennan replaced three of the four top executives over the following five months, including Katherine Glassey.  The fourth top executive departed in January 2002.

September 2001: Ofir Kedar was re-elected to Brio’s board of directors.  He resigned within the following six months, possibly upon the founding of Enigma Entertainment, and Yorgen Edholm became the sole chairman of the board.

October 2001: Brio Technology changed its name to Brio Software.

February 2002: Brio made a private placement of almost six million shares of common stock, receiving $14.3 million of equity investment.

Combined SQRiBE’s & Brio’s Financial Results.  Note that the SQRiBE numbers differ from the earlier chart because that chart was based on calendar years and this chart is based on fiscal years ending on March 31.

Year Ended 03/31/ 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Brio

Sqribe

Revenue ($000)

15,945 31,383 26,772

25,123

46,524

39,126

132,036 151,612 111,368 103,066
Brio

Sqribe

Income ($000)

-8,066 -8,624 -8,072

-7,651

-887

1,050

-10,910 -9,650 -25,507 -15,933
Equity ($000) 547 152 -1,264 26,288 28,126 26,367 20,399 1,492
Brio Stock Prices ($) N/A N/A 7.00 – 26.50 11.25 – 64.50 2.63 – 37.06 1.00 – 8.00 0.95 – 3.03

2002: SRI Technologies released SqrPlus Automatic Document Generation, which extracts meaningful comments from SQR programs and collects them in a document.

2003: SRI Technologies released Performance Analysis Tool, which tracks the time each procedure takes to execute.

October 2003: Hyperion Solutions Corporation acquired Brio Software for $156 million in cash and stock.  The price for Brio was far less than the price for Sqribe, possibly because of the intervening decline of the stock market and because Brio was almost bankrupt.  Hyperion was founded in 1981 as IMRS by Bob Thomson and Marco Arese.  It was based in Santa Clara, California.  Hyperion rebranded SQR product line as follows.

Brio Foundation (Brio Portal) Hyperion Foundation Services
Brio Report Activator Hyperion SQR Activator
Brio Report Builder Hyperion SQR Developer
Brio Report Server Hyperion SQR Server
Brio Report Viewer Hyperion SQR Viewer
Brio Reports iServer Hyperion SQR iServer

2003: Kevin Reschenberg, an independent Peoplesoft consultant and former Senior Consultant at Peoplesoft Inc., founded SparkPath Technologies, Inc. in Aliso Viejo, California.

July 2004: SparkPath Technologies, Inc. released SP Debugger for SQR, an interactive debugger supporting line-by-line stepping, breakpoints, variable and array inspection and modification, a profiler, and other features.    The current version is 1.6.8.  A .NET-based version is in the final stages of development.

December 2004: Oracle Corporation acquired Peoplesoft Corporation for $10.3 billion in cash.  Oracle was founded by Larry Ellison in June 1977.  It is based in Redwood Shores, California.

2005: SRI Technologies released SqrPlus Remote Server Agent, which facilitates SQR development under non-Windows environments.

June 2005: SparkPath Technologies, Inc. upgraded SP Debugger for SQR to alert users to some common coding errors.

September 2005: Hyperion Solutions announced Hyperion System 9, which included Hyperion Production Reporting, which included Hyperion SQR Developer, Hyperion SQR Server, and Hyperion SQR iServer.

April 2007: Oracle Corporation acquired Hyperion Solutions for about $3.3 billion in cash.

Oracle released “Oracle Enterprise Performance Management System Release 9.2.1” containing “Hyperion System 9 BI+ Production Reporting Release 9.2.”

2008: Oracle released “Hyperion Enterprise Performance Management System Release 9.3.1” containing “Hyperion SQR Production Report – System 9 Release 9.3.1.”  Version 9.3.1 SQR can access Teradata ODBC, Progress ODBC, XML, and Microsoft Access.  Its HTML output is compatible with SAP Enterprise, ISM WebSphere, BEA WebLogic, and Microsoft SharePoint portals.  The Reporting Studio has predefined formatting templates and styles.

June 2008: SparkPath Technologies, Inc. upgraded SP Debugger for SQR to be used within SQR Express, an integrated development environment from Business Computing Solutions LLC.

July 2008: Oracle released “Oracle Enterprise Performance Management System, Fusion Edition Release 11.1.1” containing “Hyperion SQR Production Reporting Release 11.1.1.”  There was no version 10.  Version 11.1.1 SQR interfaces with the BI EE semantic layer.  ODBC supports Netezza.  There are new commands for tables and row sets.  It supports Oracle proxies, 64-bit SPARC, and 64-bit PowerPC.  The Reporting Studio supports multiple data sources in a single report (although they must be the same type; ODBC vs. DDO) and has more predefined formatting templates and styles.  There is also richer export to Microsoft Office.

Unanswered Questions

I was impressed and humbled by the number of source documents I could find on the Internet.  In contrast, when I search for myself, I find mostly other people with my name.  So much for cyberspace fame.  But I still cannot answer the questions that matter to me most.

What was the impetus for SQR?  (Someone wrote that it was a commercial version of a Defense Department project, but I have no verification of that.)  How was it written?  (In C?)  How was it designed to be so portable across hardware and databases?  What were the original, version 1 features?  What was EasySQR?

Why does SQR syntax treat array elements so differently from scalar variables?  Why are there no for loops, function subroutines, or return commands?

Why did SQ Software and D&N Solutions sell to Sybase?  Why did Sybase buy them?  Why did Sybase sell to MITI?

If SQR was running on Oracle in 1988, why did MITI need to implement it on Oracle in 1993?  Did this have anything to do with the 1991 SQL Solutions v. Oracle Corporation lawsuit?

Why did SQRiBE Technologies (MITI) lose money in 1995 – 1997 (and almost in 1998) while revenues grew five-fold?  Was it investing in growth, or buying growing by underpricing, or not managing itself properly?  These questions apply to Brio as well, which lost month from 1996 – 2003, while revenues grew seven-fold.

Analysis And Opinions

I’m on the outside of the SQR story looking it through peepholes and opaque windows, but I cannot resist making some comments.

The 1980s were an exciting time for software.  As the number of computers in existence grew exponentially, there was a blossoming of creativity and originality in software.  The 1990s saw the introduction of Microsoft Windows – a mass extinction event similar to the dinosaur die-off.  On the other hand, the 1990s was the decade in which we prepared for Y2K, which made fortunes for companies like Oracle and Peoplesoft, and a profitless sales boom for Sqribe and Brio.

I can’t tell for sure, but it seemed that the strategy for SQR has always been to bundle it with other products; Peoplesoft, Maximo, Essbase, and 40 others.  That may have been necessary; I’ve noticed that after clients spend $1 million for Peoplesoft software and $5 million for consulting support, they don’t want to spend $300 for a text editor, much less $10,000 for an SQR server.

It was also a risky strategy.  There is no SQR community to support an SQR company.  There’s a Peoplesoft community of people who work in Peoplecode, Application Engine, Crystal Reports, PS Query, blah, blah, blah, and SQR.  There’s a business intelligence community of people who work in Essbase, Oracle BI, Excel, blah, blah, blah, and SQR.  And so on.  Sqribe boasted of 7,500 organizations using SQR.  Did it know what they were and who was programming it?

A single product software company turned out to be a tough business.  Business Intelligence turned out to be a tough business too, maybe not a stand-alone business.  Sqribe lost money, Brio lost money, and the combination lost more money.  Hyperion bought Brio for far less than Brio paid for Sqribe, possibly because Brio was almost bankrupt.

SQR seems to be a completed product now.  The Peoplesoft version hasn’t been enhanced in nine years, other than possibly to stay compatible with Windows, Unix, PDF, XML, etc.  The Hyperion version works with more hardware and software, and some of its existing features have been “fleshed-out,” but there hasn’t been anything that seemed to advance the product.  Note that I don’t have any items for the past 18 months.

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