Interview with Tim Miller, CEO of Rally Software

Our interview this morning is with Tim Miller, CEO of Rally Software ( Rally is a Boulder-based firm that is developing tools for software developers, focused on the Agile programming technique. We spoke to Tim to better understand the company and how it fits into the market.

Techrockies: What are Rally's products, and how do they help developers?

Tim Miller: Let me talk about the mission of the company from a high level. We all come from a software development background, and we think there is a step function in improvements that teams can have using a methodology called Agile. The company was founded to try to take that methodology and build a product to help teams scale, and get the same kind of productivity if you're workinn with 1, 5, or 10 people or more with teams across an organization, both colocated or distributed. In the end, we're dedicated and focused on perfecting the art of software development.

Techrockies: How big is the market for Agile development tools, and how far along is this market?

Tim Miller: Agile development really started with object oriented programming. From a technology perspective, we started building modular code with object oriented programming in the 60s, 70s, and it became very popular in the 80's and 90's. It's now the predominant programming construct, in languages such as Java, Smalltalk, and C++. The next wave is focused on how people build software. It's focused on teams, and less on the technology, and breaking down barriers to rapid productivity. Agile development has been around formally and in the community since 2001, and it's been growing rapidly. It's at the stage now where we've talking about this now being mainstream. Forrester has a couple of reports out there, large and small, and a year and a half ago talked about two thirds of their clients now adopting Agile software in some form. It's definitely mainstream now, with the largest software companies on the planet doing it. It's a big wave.

Techrockies: What does your tool look like, and how do developers use it?

Tim Miller: It's best to think of, which is who we modeled our business after. sells its product to a sales force within an enterprise. It also connects to the support and marketing parts of an organization. They have a collaboration tool that allows teams to work together. We're doing the same thing for engineering and that part of the organization. We target programmers, IT staff, QA, product management, and product marketing, who are all working with our products to build better software faster.

Techrockies: What's the advantage over tools like Bugzilla, ClearCase, etc.?

Tim Miller: There are a lot of commercial products and open source products that were designed for a functional group to make their job faster and better. We took a slightly different approach and said we want to combine all those functions into one app, so we're not handing off things in software development lifecycle from point A to point B to point C. We have combined them in an iteration so that everyone is co-creating the software. The simplest way to state this is that this is not creating a long document, and spending six to 12 months writing code, and a six month QA and debug cycle. That might cause you to miss a market window. We coach teams and product support to make shippable working code in two week increments. Most of our customers release every month or every quarter. Our customers derive new value from the fundamental, systematic approach to the system engineering process. We've combined them into a single repository of information, which includes a management dashboard that gives visibility into the entire software lifecycle.

Techrockies: So it really sounds like you've really implemented Agile development practices into software?

Tim Miller: We are. It's interesting to note, Agile development has changed the way software is built. The existing software out there does not support that development method. That's why the company was created. The founder, Ryan Martin, worked at a company with release cycles that were getting longer and longer, but which had market pressures to release more sooner. That gulf continues to grow.

Techrockies: Do you offer any source control or build tools as part of your package?

Tim Miller: We've chosen not to go into source code control. We support integrations with those tools, but it turns out those problems have been solved for some time, and are well established. There's not a ton of innovation you can do there. We have Web Services APIs that allow us to couple with those tools.

Techrockies: How far along is the company in terms of customers?

Tim Miller: We closed 2004 with about 10 customers. In 2005 had just over 100 customers. We're on track to add hundreds more this year. That's our kind of trajectory.

Techrockies: You recently received a series B funding round, where did you get the funding?

Tim Miller: We raised a series B a couple of weeks ago. We raised $8 million in a funding from a round led by Vista ventures. Current investors Mobius and Boulder Ventures also continued to invest. We have a product that has been in the market for now almost 2 years, and that's basically our flagship product--our Professional Edition. We also have a Team Edition for smaller teams just getting started, which we released in first quarter of 2006. We also have a product we released a month ago that is a mashup on top and their new OEM program, which we're real excited about. That's been in the market for about a month and getting great traction. We also have another product that we are announcing in the future. Also interesting to note is the great industry recognition we are getting. We won a Jolt award from SD Times two or three months ago, and that positioned and validated we have a best in class application.

Techrockies: Thanks for the interview!