Dresdner worked on the proof of concept to develop its own inhouse product, but it has now abandoned that effort in favor of Propero's workSpace, according to Crewe, as the bank concentrates on its core business, not developing software infrastructure. Dresdner's New York operation will go live with workSpace in February 2006 with 1,500 users, Peskin said, with the software being rolled out over the coming year to all 7,000 users.
Back in 2000, Crewe and Peskin took the virtualization software idea to 3i Group, the largest early startup venture capitalist in Europe, and to Catalyst Fund Management & Research, a U.K. VC focused on the financial sector. The companies funded what became Propero, a Latin verb meaning to accelerate. To date, Propero has received £11 million in funding from 3i and Catalyst.
Last month, Propero opened its U.S. headquarters in New York. "We are potentially looking at U.S. investors," Peskin said. "When we gain traction in the U.S. market and we start to scale rapidly, we'll begin to look at financing options." The company currently employs 35 people, with seven in the U.S. Peskin expects headcount to double over the next 12 to 15 months with all the growth taking place in the U.S. "The U.S. represents 60 to 70 percent of the potential market for us," he added.
The startup already has a strong partner in IBM. The IT giant is also a workSpace customer, having deployed it to 4,000 staff in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. IBM is in the process of setting up what it terms a "human grid" across its Integrated Development Centers, according to Peskin, so that any employee can support any customer.
Propero has seven customers to date, with the other publicly named firms being H.J. Heinz Co. with 5,000 workSpace users in 23 European sites, and American Express Co. with 6,000 workSpace users in Europe.
Looking ahead, Propero is investigating how best to provide virtualization to facilitate access from non-PC devices including PDAs (personal digital assistants) and mobile phones, according to Peskin. The company also intends to make a P-to-P (peer-to-peer) announcement next year, Crewe said.