The Download: Sonatype switches coasts

By Steven Overly
Monday, September 13, 2010

So long, California.

Silicon Valley start-up Sonatype has moved to Silver Spring, and brought along with it $11.6 million from investors and a new chief executive in Wayne Jackson.

Sonatype streamlines the software development process through tools such as an open source platform called Maven. Jackson said the infusion of cash will be used to expand that product, including a cloud-based version, among others.

Facebook-backer Accel Partners was behind the deal, along with Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Morgenthaler Ventures and Bay Partners.

Jackson came as part of a package deal with the funding, he said, likely because of his prior success helping start-ups grow. He was the head of Columbia-based Sourcefire when it went public in March 2007. He left in July 2008.

"The root of any of these businesses is in innovation, and the folks who take their eye off that ball expose themselves to a great deal of risk," he said.


Last week, The Download shared how executives from five local companies or agencies define and implement innovation. Well, academics aim to have a voice in the conversation, too.

The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business plans to launch the Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change at a daylong event on Oct. 1.

The center aims to help companies put into practice the research that's been conducted about effective organizational structure and leadership during periods of change and innovation.

"It's not just the new product development firms. It's not just the high-tech companies. I don't think you can name an industry or name a sector where innovation isn't required," said Paul Telsuk, a professor and one of the center's three directors.

But how to lead innovation often proves to be a sticking point, Telsuk said. Sometimes change requires substantial structural modifications, with some companies going so far as to remove conventional job titles and share leadership.

"The challenges that lots of organizations are facing right now are opportunities, if they look at it that way," he said. "The problem is too many organizations look at it and say we'll make systematic reductions across the board."

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