Need for speed creates global success story

Demand for faster internet provided niche for NZ firm Aptimize

"Necessity is the mother of invention" has been attributed to various writers as far back as Plato. Aptimize CEO Ed Robinson has a modern take on it: "Our invention came from having to survive."

The invention of the Wellington company is its Website Accelerator, which has found favour amongst the global ICT community.

Robinson started a software as a service (SaaS) company back in 2007, but it soon became apparent that the further away the user the longer their web sites took to connect -- mainly because of New Zealand's broadband limitations. New York, for example, was taking 30 seconds.

The company began working to improve the time lag and got it down to four seconds.

"It soon became apparent that our side invention to speed up the site was, in fact, a better commercial offering," he says.

Capital was raised and Aptimize was launched late in 2008. NZ Trade and Enterprise and Tech NZ have contributed funding.

Aptimize's first New Zealand customer was Trade Me. Two years on, the worldwide customer list includes Disney, Microsoft.com, Google, the US army and other military sites, Dell, Vodafone in Europe and, in New Zealand, Gen-i/Telecom, Mainfreight and Zespri.

"We're also starting with some of the big US banks," Robinson says.

Aptimize has been awarded international patents for the Website Accelerator.

The Accelerator optimises web pages in real time, with a simple software installation on the client's web server. There is no extra hardware, no code or browser changes. Page load times are reduced by up to 75 percent.

For a company like Google, that means more page impressions and more advertising revenue. US company BuyOnlineNow, which delivers more than 30,000 office products, increased its top-line revenue from web site sales by 3.33 percent after installing Web Accelerator, saving 26 percent in bandwidth costs and $6300 in hardware costs in the first year. The US company says that Aptimize paid for itself in just six weeks.

It is also effective for enterprise intranets. Robinson says the cost saving for one of Aptimize's large US accounts is $11,000 a month. There are 2500 employees, each viewing eight pages a day on the intranet. By reducing the load time of each page by four seconds, 22 hours of time per day are saved.

Web Accelerator is licensed per website. A typical sale is between $20,000 and $50,000.

With 97 percent of revenue generated from exports, Robinson spends a lot of time travelling the world. He is well connected in the US, having spent six years there with Microsoft, initially as a programme manager with the first version of Visual Studio, then latterly working on SharePoint, which figures prominently on Aptimize's web site.

Citrix has signed a partnership agreement with Aptimize as an international distributor, though Robinson says sales are still predominantly over the web.

The company also recently signed another partnership agreement with Compuware, which specialises in performance management and improvement.

"We are using Compuware's Gomez to find the problems and to also concentrate on building capability as part of our analysis phase," he says. Gomez is a SaaS-based application performance management solution that provides visibility from the datacentre to the end user. It allows organisations whose business depends on web applications, to quickly assess the business impact of a problem to determine whether the cause is at the datacentre, on the internet, with a third-party provider or with the user's browser or device.

It brings together enterprise and internet application performance management.

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