Aconex co-founder Rob Phillpot on life after a $1.6b sale



A ‘hair-on-fire’ downside

Phillpot and Jasper, who boarded at Melbourne’s Scotch School collectively, began Aconex 19 years in the past to deal with what they noticed as “the inefficient circulate of knowledge between organisations” within the development trade. Their software program digitally connects house owners, builders and different groups to handle information, paperwork and prices throughout all levels of a development venture

Aconex co-founders Rob Phillpot and Leigh Jasper after selling their business to Oracle.

Aconex co-founders Rob Phillpot and Leigh Jasper after promoting their enterprise to Oracle. Credit score:Wayne Taylor

“[The sector] had a hair-on-fire downside round doc administration,” Phillpot says.

“It is type of nearly embarrassing to look again, the answer in its early incarnation was actually, actually easy, nearly embarrassingly easy however that is what you’ve acquired to begin with. You need to begin with one thing that could be a minimal viable product and you then construct on it and construct on it and now we’ve got one thing 18 years later that’s way more refined. However if you happen to tried to construct all of it earlier than you launch, you’d die and run out of cash.”

Aconex, which listed on the ASX in 2014, constructed a buyer base of 70,000 consumer organisations in additional than 70 international locations and was used to handle greater than $1 trillion in initiatives by the point of the sale.


Since beginning Aconex, Phillpot says the development trade has modified considerably however among the similar issues stay.

“It is the identical as it isn’t related sufficient, however it’s completely different as a result of the funding in development tech has actually hit an inflection level,” he says.

In 2008, Phillpot says $US4.5 million ($6.7 million) was invested in development tech startups. In 2013, this grew to simply below $200 million and funding reached $600 million by 2018.

“The one causes funding is ramping is individuals see the necessity [and] development firms are then adopting these bits of tech,” Phillpot says. “It’s type of like a obligatory ecosystem, it is not a push, it’s not a pull, they should co-exist.”

A brand new gig

Following the sale, Phillpot and Jasper each stayed on at Oracle in its development and engineering division. Philpott took on the function of worldwide vice-president of product technique, whereas Jasper is vice-resident of technique and operations.

Phillpot says he is having fun with the challenges of his “new gig” as half of a bigger organisation.

“I used to be doing venture technique at Aconex; now I am doing product technique throughout the entire portfolio of development tech at Oracle,” he says.

“From a private perspective that is wonderful as a result of it’s intellectually stimulating for one, and I get to affect how that works for the trade. Now we’ve got all these different instruments as a part of our kitbag – we’ve got scheduling and portfolio administration and fee administration and all these different issues that we by no means had the sources to do.”

Phillpot will not say how lengthy he and Jasper are required to remain at Oracle.

So long as I’ve extra to contribute and so long as I’m having fun with it, I’ll keep.

“This isn’t about me leaving as a result of I’m contracted to Oracle or not,” he says.

“I’m on this as a result of the explanations I began Aconex nonetheless exist. I care concerning the trade and I wish to remodel it and I wish to make it higher. I even have extra alternative to do that with this greater instrument package.

“Whether or not I’ve a contracted finish date or a hold-back interval or not is type of irrelevant. It’s extra about, have I acquired extra to contribute? So long as I’ve extra to contribute and so long as I’m having fun with it, I’ll keep.”

He is enthusiastic concerning the alternatives in Australia for development know-how.

“Australia is punching above its weight with regards to development tech,” he says.

“Productiveness of the development trade in Australia is among the world’s greatest. It’s pushed by necessity, partly as a result of we’ve got actually excessive labour prices so you need to take a look at revolutionary methods to make use of know-how to get extra environment friendly.

“You’ll be able to’t simply throw individuals on the downside, you need to use know-how to assist that. It is partly our have-a-go nature as nicely, persons are prepared to have a go.”

Cara is the small enterprise editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald primarily based in Melbourne

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