A Smart Bear Makes All The Difference

*Editors note: thanks to all who have viewed, liked, shared, or commented on my previous post titled The Graveyard of Ambition. We are currently at 40,000+ views over the last 2 weeks and counting. More importantly I’ve received 50+ resumes from the post, a testament to Galwegians across the globe and how strongly they feel about their hometown.


SmartBear – that is a quirky/confusing/fun/stupid name, how on earth did you guys come up with that?

That is a quirky/confusing/fun/stupid name, how on earth did you guys come up with that?

Earlier this week I was out to dinner with a team of executives from a US based software company evaluating Galway as a potential location to expand their presence internationally. We had a very engaging conversation around the pros and cons of the various locations they were reviewing (I tried my best to limit my overwhelming enthusiasm towards Galway so they didn’t think I was pulling the hard sell). Towards the end of the meal their CEO looked at me, somewhat puzzled, and out of nowhere asked, “How did you come up with the name SmartBear?” Thankfully in my time at the company I’ve been asked that same question, with various levels of confusion, approximately 62,476 times at last count. After rattling off my response he looked much more enthusiastic and said, “That is such a great story, it must be on your website right?” While we have a great About Us page, it does leave out a few of the more interesting pieces of the story. But look no farther inquiring minds, I’ve decided to post the story here. The following is your history lesson in the name behind SmartBear.

It all started with Insight Venture Partners, a group of super smart bankers in New York. Well, sort of. It actually began with a group of super smart Russian developers. Well, that’s not really true either. The name SmartBear truly started in Austin, Texas by the super smart entrepreneur Jason Cohen (who has a fantastic blog titled http://blog.asmartbear.com/). But before we get to Jason we need the New York bankers and Russian developers first.

In 1999, AutomatedQA was formed in Tula, Russia. Makers of the test automation tool TestComplete. Fast forward to 2007 when the company was seeing fast growth and increased market penetration against the likes of HP and IBM, and the group of super smart bankers from New York acquired AQA as an investment to further penetrate the software quality market.

Just a few months later the same group of super smart bankers in New York came across the company SmartBear out of Austin, Texas. Founded by Jason Cohen, his team built a first of its kind peer code review tool called Collaborator. Realizing the two companies were very complementary in the software quality space, Insight decided to pair them together and recruited a new CEO in Boston to take over and ramp growth through building an inside sales team and leveraging next generation inbound marketing techniques.

About 18 months later, in 2009, the group of super smart bankers (yes there is a theme developing here, bankers in New York are smart) bought Pragmatic Software out of Denver, Colorado, makers of the test management tool QAComplete, and folded it in with AutomatedQA and SmartBear.

At this point our executive team realized we had a problem. Internally we were one company, selling the idea of ridding the world of buggy software through the various products we had acquired over the previous few years. But to the outside world we were three different companies with three different websites, brands, etc.

Through an extensive market study it was decided we would rebrand all three under the name SmartBear, and in the summer of 2010 the company was re-launched. From the three choices it was decided that SmartBear was the least product/industry specific, but also had a fun/quirky/memorable ring to it. (But the name itself SmartBear, where exactly did that actually come from you ask? Jason was a fan of John Irving’s novel Hotel New Hampshire, where the reader is told repeatedly towards the end of the story that “a smart bear makes all the difference.” Not what you were expecting was it?) For the extended story behind the name SmartBear check out Jason’s blog here, http://blog.asmartbear.com/pick-company-name-brand.html

By combining all three companies into one name not only did we firm up our brand but we also created a platform where we could fold in future acquisitions (the bankers in New York have not stopped working).

In 2011 we added two more companies: eviware out of Stockholm, makers of the API testing tool SoapUI, and AlertSite out of Florida, makers of the industry leading web monitoring platform. And most recently at the end of 2013 we acquired Lucierna out of Barcelona, makers of an industry leading APM solution.

So there you have it: AutomatedQA + SmartBear + Pragmatic + eviware + AlertSite + Lucierna = SmartBear, the leading provider of user centric application quality and performance management tools for software professionals. We are obsessed about software quality and helping the world build better apps.

If you take one thing away from this brief history lesson, it’s to read more John Irving and make friends with a group of super smart New York bankers. Who knows what the future could bring for you.

It is now September 2014, and the new supercharged SmartBear Software is poised better than ever to completely disrupt the world of software quality forever. Did I mention the new EMEA HQ we opened over the summer where we are currently building the next great inside sales team to capitalize on this momentum? If you fit the mold of the below job description, give me a call. We have exciting things going on in the west of Ireland.




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