PROFILE: Percussion Software

Percussion president and CEO Barry Reynolds (second from left) and his colleagues take a break from work with a game of Foosball in Percussionís headquarters in Stoneham, Mass. Also pictured are Caroline Michaud, director of Domino marketing (far left), and Peter Webster, director, worldwide consulting (far right).
By Liz Garone

Percussion's success in the Notes/Domino market has made the company one of the fastest growing outfits in New England.

While many software companies brag about their growth rates, few have reason to toot as loudly as Percussion Software. In its first five years in business, this Lotus business partner increased its revenue about 157 times, going from $50,000 in 1994 to $7.9 million in 1998, earning Percussion accolades as the fastest growing technology company in New England in 1998, as determined by the accounting firms of Deloitte & Touche and Hale and Dorr.

"What's reflected in the Fast 50 list [compiled by the accounting firms] is the amazing growth we've had in the Notes space with our Notes products," said Percussion's president and CEO Barry Reynolds. "We really believe that we have the best product in every category that we're in. Our interaction is very customer-focused in terms of what people need in the products and how to keep moving the products forward. That, combined with a real service-oriented mentality in terms of making customers successful, is actually what has created that growth opportunity. Plus, we're pretty aggressive about making sure that we're always out on the edge."

One of the hardest parts of starting a business is coming up with a catchy name. But Reynolds, who founded the company in 1994, had a good name in mind from the start. "Percussion" was a name he had wanted to use for a software product at a company he used to work for, but couldn't because the CEO didn't like it; he told Reynolds that it was too "noisy," that customers wouldn't be comfortable with it. So Reynolds tucked the name away, determined to use it one day.

He finally got the chance when he started Percussion. "At the time, we were solely a Notes company," he recalled, "so the whole play of notes and music and percussion made a lot of sense to me, particularly with where we were going with the data integration space. We were talking about the beat of the data coming into the Notes application, and how that beat of data keeps your application going. I thought that was really a nice fit. So I wasn't able to use the name in a previous life, but I thought it was perfect for where we were going with this company."

Percussion's Product Line

From the beginning, Reynolds said, Percussion has worked to develop products that make it easier to develop Notes applications and to administer Notes installations. "Our focus was and still is the same," he said. "How do you take things that are fairly complicated for customers and really reduce them down and make it as easy as possible for people to actually do complex and comprehensive things?"

Percussion Power Tools, which have easy-to-use graphical interfaces and don't require any programming, are the company's answer to that question. Targeted at Domino developers and administrators, the product line includes four applications: Percussion ServerAdmin Plus, for administering large Notes/Domino installations; Percussion PowerFlow, for automating Notes/Domino applications, such as document workflows; Percussion Notrix, for integrating corporate data into Notes; and VB/Link, for building sophisticated Notes user interfaces.

More recently, the company has extended its offerings to e-business and the Web with a product line called Rhythmyx, which includes an XML data server that accesses backend data sources and enables Web developers to easily incorporate data from those sources into their Web pages. By using XML style sheets, Rhythmyx reduces the amount of programming required to create sophisticated Web applications.

Percussion Software


Stoneham, Mass

Regional Offices

London, U.K., Santa Monica, Calif. (opening July 1, 2000)

Number of Employees


Product Lines

Percussion Power Tools for Lotus Domino, which includes Percussion ServerAdmin Plus, Percussion PowerFlow, Percussion Notrix, and VB/Link

Rhythmyx, which includes Rhythmyx Content Management System and Rhythmyx XML Application Server
1999 Sales
$10.6 million

President and CEO

Barry Reynolds


"The beauty of XML is that lots of vendors are supporting it and embracing it, and it's really going to become the lingua franca of the net."

Contact Information

Percussion Software
92 Montvale Avenue, #2100
Stoneham, MA 02180
Fax: 781-438-9955

Percussion was an early adopter of XML, having begun Rhythmyx's development in the spring of 1998. "A lot of people had been talking about XML for awhile, but early on we jumped in and actually started doing stuff with it," said Reynolds, who expects XML to be widely used. So does Tom Austin, vice president and research fellow with the GartnerGroup in Stamford, Conn. "XML will become the lingua franca of the Web," said Austin. "Any vendor aggressively supporting itóand its many important derivativesóis headed in the right direction."

Fast Growth Continues

From its list-topping performance in 1998, Percussion continues to rack up impressive growth. Last year's revenue was $10.6 million, and Reynolds said that the company expects to attain $16 to $18 million in revenue this year.

Still headquarted in Stoneham, Mass., Percussion will soon have 100 employees in three locations. It has an office in London, U.K., and plans to open its first regional U.S. office in Santa Monica, Calif., in July. It considered opening that office in Silicon Valley but was dissuaded by the area's extraordinarily high cost of living. "We knew that we were making a tradeoff not being in Silicon Valley with all of the high tech there," said Reynolds. "But I think we'll be close enough."

By year's end, Reynolds expects to have satellite offices in the Atlanta, Washington, Chicago, and Dallas areas. He also plans to continue developing XML products. "What people should expect is that we are going to continue down this XML path with all of our products. We see that as the key enabling technology for allowing people to bring together all of the diverse components and content across their environments."

LIZ GARONE is a freelance technology writer based in San Francisco, Calif.

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