CoreFour was founded by four highly-experienced software developers and entrepreneurs with over 100 years of experience between them. With expertise ranging from operating system development to ultra-high-reliability telecommunication, from shoestring startups to initial public offerings, and from educational software to highly-secure military networks, CoreFour is set to build some impressive products.
The origins of CoreFour go back to the early 1980’s when the founders first worked together at Nortel Networks. These four worked together to create Meridian Mail – the industry-leading voice messaging system that went on to become a global success with over $1B in revenue over the lifetime of the product. The challenge of creating a highly scalable and reliable telecommunications-grade product out of 1980’s-era computing technology was substantial indeed. The limited capacities and performance of processor speed, memory and disk subsystems resulted in enormous challenges. However, the expertise and perspectives that grew through these efforts became the foundation and “trademark” of future product efforts by the team.
In 1989 three of the four CoreFour founders left Nortel to found a company called SoftArc and create FirstClass – a highly successful messaging and collaboration system that is now in use by thousands of organizations and millions of users around the world. The architecture of FirstClass was incredibly advanced at the time as it stored all users’ data in a core server and provided users with true mobility and choice as they could use a wide range of devices (Windows computers, Macintosh computers, web browsers and telephones) to access their digital “stuff” that was securely stored “in the cloud”. Today all modern systems are designed this way; in the early 1990’s this was truly visionary.
The scalability and reliability of FirstClass enabled many very large organizations such as the Open University in the UK, the Danish Ministry of Education and Chicago Public Schools to deploy FirstClass systems with hundreds of thousands of users. The efficiencies created by the architecture enabled organizations to deploy FirstClass for as little as 1/10th the cost of comparable solutions such as Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes.
The unique characteristics of FirstClass spurred its usage in many types of organizations including advertising, media, transportation, health care, and franchise businesses. By far the biggest adoption of FirstClass came in the education sector with school districts around the world choosing it. Schools typically have limited budgets, few IT staff, large numbers of “users” (students and teachers). Schools also the need more flexibility and choice when it comes to how users access the system, unlike in business where each employee is generally issued a standard PC to be used for all computing needs. This focus on education customers over the last twenty years has given the CoreFour team deep insights into the unique challenges and needs of education organizations around the world.
SoftArc went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1999 as Centrinity, following a reverse takeover of a smaller publicly listed company. In late 2002 Open Text acquired Centrinity and the FirstClass business has operated as a business unit of Open Text since that time. The four founders of CoreFour were the leadership team of that business unit and during their seven years at Open Text they continued to help the FirstClass business grow as well as conceiving and leading initiatives to develop highly innovative social media and mobility products at Open Text.
The CoreFour founders left Open Text in early 2010 and started CoreFour in July.