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Globant, the Argentine unicorn that is fashionable on Wall Street


Founded in 2003, the technology company is worth US $ 6.5 billion and runs after Mercado Libre. Its creators tell their story and upcoming challenges.

Damien Kantor

07/12/2020 - 1:01

  • Clarí
  • Economy

Che, "Gordo", did you already notice the email that arrived this morning?

-No, I haven't read anything yet. What happened?

-They chose us.

Thus, with a barely contained smile, Martín Migoya told “Fat” Guibert Englebienne that Globant, then a software startup, had become the first external Google provider in history . "I got on a desk in the middle of the office and started celebrating with joy," says Guibert, remembering one of the company's key milestones.

It was in 2006, when Globant was just 3 years old . As of today, it has more than 40 commercial offices distributed in 16 countries, it has 12,500 employees and a valuation close to US $ 6.5 billion ; It is the third most valuable Argentine company, behind Mercado Libre and Tenaris (Techint). Quite an achievement, considering that Globant went public on the New York Stock Exchange on July 18, 2014, that is, exactly 6 years ago .

Getting to Nasdaq is another memorable event, according to its 4 founders. Being there marked me , it was one of the most important days of my life. Being on Wall Street with my family, following the traditions of ringing the bell and going up to the balcony. It was all very emotional ”, evokes Néstor Nocetti, another of his partners, today. The 4th musketeer in history, Martín Umarán, considers it as the "entrance to royalty " of high technology.

Globant is at the top of the local software industry. Born in 2003 with a global vocation, it attracted the attention of investment funds and expanded its influence to reach the heart of the Silicon Valley. It is not surprising that today its history is studied as a notable case in universities such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford

Globant is the fruit of the determination and imagination of 4 young native engineers from La Plata . Englebienne clarifies that she lived there until she was 7 years old, but that she grew up in Mar del Plata. Migoya and Umarán had known each other since they were 14 years old, but "we strengthened the relationship at the university and that was where we became friends with Nocetti," Migoya recalled. The idea of ​​forming a company would come later, when the 4 were employees of Tallion, a consultancy located in the Buenos Aires downtown. "At the end of 2002 we used to get together in bars to see if we could do something on our own," says Nocetti.

In those endless after office the matrix of a multinational with 10 development centers located in Argentina emerged and was gaining markets (United States, England, France, Spain, India, Brazil and Colombia, among others). He has bought 15 companies and works for multinationals such as Google, Electronic Arts, Disney, Santander, JP Morgan and American Airlines. Last year he billed US $ 659 million , but they are going for more.

The initial steps were more difficult. Globant took definitive shape at Dow Town Matías, a trendy Irish pub in the late 1990s and located on the corner of Viamonte and Reconquista. "We met once a week to talk about what the company's DNA would be , going out into the world, selling software to the United States and England," says Migoya. The germ was there, Umarán completes, but without defined limits: "The objective was to build the company as large as possible, " he says.

This is how the project started. Among the 4 they made up the initial capital, US $ 5,000, from their savings . They settled in a small office in La Plata and Migoya and Umarán shipped to the US and England to get the first clients. “In those places we had acquaintances, we contacted them and we returned. When I arrived, my wife asked how I had been doing. I told him the truth: we didn't sell anything, ”says laughing Migoya. The first client arrived 5 months later :, a website belonging to EMC, one of the colossi of the industry.

The episode refers to the beginning of the project. His journey, however, was not linear. A year later, in 2004, they installed a company in London to offer services to a specific client. But the first imbalances between costs and profits emerged . “Until 2005, we covered everything with our own funds and the income we had. Umarán (the CFO) was completely stressed, "says Nocetti.

Only in 2006 did they receive the support of FS Partners, an Argentine investment fund. And a year later, they receive the contribution of Riverwood Capital. In parallel, a concrete offer arrives to sell. “It was a lot of money . It took us about 10 years to collect an amount similar to what they offered us, ”says Umarán. However, they rejected it unanimously. “We were convinced that we could grow much more”, completes Migoya.

The startup took flight, but there were times of anxiety. The global crisis of 2008 put Globant on the ledge . "It was difficult, but it was not the only one," said Englebienne. Umarán recalls that "customers were lost" due to the economic impact of the Lehman Brothers crash and the recession. The memory of the episode breaks Migoya's voice: “Google, our biggest client, dramatically lowered demand, just when we were in an investment round. I thought it was the end, that it was all over, ”he says.

But they got over it. The IPO confirmed the course. The share price, in 2014, was US $ 10. Today it is around US $ 163, that is, more than 1,600% of the initial value of the IPO. In 2016, Globant enshrines itself as a unicorn, as the jargon defines companies that are valued or that bill at least $ 1 billion. Englebienne explains that there are other variables to evaluate a company. "Saying unicorn is very successful", distinguishes and that there are other factors to consider.

Englebienne was specially commissioned to measure the number of accumulated hours it required Globant to achieve that category. " If it were a single person, it would take 13,500 years, " he graphed. With this calculation he tried to demonstrate that a company is a great shared effort under a common vision. “The objective, today, is the same from the beginning. Make the company as big as possible ”, the founders agree.

The Globant brand, on the other hand, is not visible to the general public. But it is behind many premium brands, in its connection with its customers. The multinational of Argentine origin was behind the conversion of the Disney theme parks. For example, digital bracelets to access entertainment and also in the smartphone application developed for the same purpose. The journey continues, with the same spirit and objective: to play in the world software league.

Source: clarin

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