A Brief History Of SugarCRMOver the past decade, SugarCRM has gone from an open source project to one of the most popular CRM vendors in the world. That growing popularity has provided SugarCRM with sixteen consecutive quarters of revenue growth, with 80% year-to-year growth.

That growth has made SugarCRM a serious contender in the CRM marketplace. In a show of confidence, the multinational investment banking firm, Goldman Sachs, recently invested $40 million dollars in SugarCRM. That money is earmarked to help expand the global reach of SugarCRM.

Given their increasing popularity, phenomenal growth, and investor confidence, it’s worthwhile to take a look at where SugarCRM started, and where they are now.

Company Founding

Building on their experience at companies like Hewlett-Packard and IBM, Clint Oram, John Roberts, and Jacob Taylor started a project called Sugar Open Source. The project was hosted on SourceForge, a development repository for free and open-source software. By June of 2004, the success of the project allowed them to found SugarCRM and raise $2 million in venture capital. A month later, on July 3, 2004, Sugar Open Source version 1.0 was released. By October of 2004, more than 25,000 people had downloaded the software which had been upgraded to version 2.0.

Critical Reception

Aside from some rumblings from the open source community, SugarCRM was well received. Those rumblings had to do with SugarCRM’s decision not to use a software license that had been approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI). Some community members felt that SugarCRM’s licensing was too restrictive to truly qualify as “open source.” However, SugarCRM put those complaints to rest in 2007, when Sugar Community Edition 5.0 was released under the GNU General Public Licens (GPLv3)—an OSI-approved license.

Company Profile

Of the original founders, only Clint Oram remains at SugarCRM. As a privately held company, SugarCRM doesn’t release specific revenue numbers. It’s also difficult to pin down a precise number of employees. One estimate puts their revenue in the ~$100 million range, with employees numbering more than 350. These numbers aren’t current, supported, or guaranteed to be accurate. Suffice it to say, SugarCRM is growing by leaps and bounds, and likely has the revenue and staffing to prove it.

Customer Base

SugarCRM claims over 1.5 million end users (a large portion of which, many industry analysts assume, are using the free Community Edition), and is used on 26 languages across 120 countries.

Part of SugarCRM’s success comes from the variety of options they offer customers. SugarCRM can be installed on-site, on a multitenant cloud hosted by SugarCRM, or on any other cloud of the client’s choosing.

Major Clients

SugarCRM provides services to a variety of well-known organizations. Among those are uShip, a shipping marketplace featured on the hit television show “Shipping Wars.” They also provide support solutions to Loomis, the secured transport service (armored cars, to us laypeople). Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life chose SugarCRM as its platform for communicating with members, beating out rivals salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Finally, Men’s Wearhouse, the nation’s largest supplier of rental tuxedos, uses SugarCRM to track and manage all of its tuxedo rentals, as well as leads and fitting appointments. These are just a few of the many companies, governmental organizations, and non-profits that use SugarCRM.

Market Share

According to our own U.S. CRM Market Share 2013 study, Sugar CRM ranks eighth with 1.6% of the overall share. Other reports rank SugarCRM as third overall, globally. SugarCRM backs this claim, though, without specific details, it’s hard to know what metrics are being used to support the claim.

Current Products

  • Sugar Community Edition: This free version of SugarCRM is intended for developers who want to gain a better understanding of the SugarCRM platform. It operates under the GNU Affero General Public License.
  • Sugar Professional: The basic version of SugarCRM bills annually, at a cost of $35 per user, per month. At this price point, users get access to sales automation and forecasting, marketing and support automation, SugarCRM Mobile, and more.
  • Sugar Enterprise: Their middle-of-the road edition, Sugar Enterprise provides all of the features of the Professional edition, as well as enterprise forecasting, customer self-service portal, private cloud option, and more. Sugar Enterprise also bills annually at $60 per user, per month.
  • Sugar Ultimate: The “Cadillac” of SugarCRM, Ultimate adds 24×7 support, a dedicated technical account manager, private cloud, and 250GB of storage, in addition to all of the features of the other versions. This version runs $150 per user, per month, billed annually.

Things to Come

SugarCRM continues to exceed earnings expectations, and is attracting the attention of big-name investors. Their current alliance with IBM points to positive growth for the foreseeable future. If they can remain focused, and continue their expansion into new markets, SugarCRM should remain one of the CRM vendors that other vendors wish they could be. The upcoming SugarCon in 2014 should give everyone a good idea of the direction SugarCRM has chosen for the future.

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