It’s not exactly a secret any more, but I want to announce that test IO is now a part of EPAM Systems, Inc (NYSE: EPAM).
Before I get into what this acquisition means for everyone, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the founders of test IO who are still working here today, Tommy Grüderich and Jan Schwenzien, as well as the first investors and early leaders Frederik Fleck and Carsten Lebtig--and the business angels who supported them--and finally Dominic Ang and the team at Turn/River Capital. In eight years as an independent company, test IO remained young, scrappy, and hungry, taking in a relatively small amount of investment capital and eventually becoming a profitable and growing business. In a baloney-gorged world where every company is “killing it” right up until the moment they die, these people built a business in a prudent way that feels almost quaint — by developing a good product, selling it effectively, and delivering value to customers every day. We learned from experience and good teachers that continuous optimization--not some deus ex machina idea or seven-figure deal or gaudy fund-raising round--is what drives success. It’s been a privilege to work with the extended test IO team.
Customarily at this point, the CEO says all of the great things that the combination will bring, and we’ll get to that. But first a word about EPAM. When they initially expressed interest in test IO, my first response was, “Who?” I’m by no means an expert in the world of product development consultancies, but at least I’ve heard of some of the big ones. EPAM had never crossed my radar. Then I started to read up on them and found a story to stir the heart of anyone who’s ever worked at a startup. From the initial strivings of an immigrant to the United States in the early 1990s, EPAM has grown metronomically 20-25% every year and is now a public company that did almost $1.84B in revenue last year.
Why had I never heard of them? I’m getting a bit of insight into that now that I’ve worked there for a couple of months. EPAMers are engineers’ engineers. They tackle the hard problems that others run from with the quiet confidence of craftspeople who believe that good work speaks for itself. I have a friend who’s been in the software business since he slept on Bill Gates’ couch in the 1970s--the kind of guy who runs toward code that’s a dumpster fire but isn’t afraid to tell you that the dumpster is filled with toxic waste and the people who put it there are idiots who should be in jail--and he told me, “I have friends who worked with EPAM. I’ve only heard good things.” Replace EPAM with, say, Accenture, and see if that sentence makes any sense.
If you’ve worked with test IO, you probably know that we also let our work speak for itself while others preen and boast. And by necessity we play a bit of a behind-the-scenes role, because most companies don’t want to admit publicly, “We were about to ship code that would have melted your phone, but these guys saved us.” So it’s fair to say that there’s quite a bit of cultural alignment, which Jan and I discovered when EPAM’s CEO Arkadiy Dobkin and Head of Delivery Victor Dvorkin spent seven hours with us over the course of two days last November. Our first thought was, “Why are these guys spending seven hours with us? Don’t they have a $9B business to run?” and our last thought was, “Whoa - these guys are smart, and they have a plan.”
So, what is that plan? I’m not entirely at liberty to say, but they have a very expansive view of how we can bring talented people around the world to bear on challenging problems, and they are very committed to solving ever larger and more complex problems for EPAM and test IO customers.
If you’re a member of our testing community, this is good news. There will be many more opportunities to ply your trade, improve your skills, and measure yourself against really complex and interesting applications. EPAM is seeking to engage the wider technical community around the world, so whether you’re living in Los Angeles or Lagos, Hamburg or Hanoi, or somewhere that nobody outside your country has ever heard of, there are more opportunities coming your way to earn, learn, and advance your career.
If you’re a current customer of test IO, this is also good news. test IO has focused relentlessly on exploratory functional testing for consumer applications, not because we thought this was the only kind of testing worth doing, but because it was the only kind of testing we could be really good at. It was always painful for us when a customer asked us to do more -- automate tests, perform security scans, help with DevOps processes -- and we had to say, “We’d love to, but we can’t.” To those customers who’ve felt they might be outgrowing our capabilities, I want to say, “NOW. WE. CAN!” We’ve joined what might be the world’s most capable software delivery team available for hire. No other crowdtesting company can make that claim.
If you’re an EPAM client (and you’ve read this far), this is great news. You already know the capabilities that EPAM brings, so I hope you’ll take a moment to get to know test IO. We can do amazing things for you: compress a month of testing into an evening, saving you pain by finding bugs in real-world scenarios that your customers would have found later; and, support your business outside the bounds of traditional software QA by ensuring that your processes work as they should for your customers in the real world, end-to-end.
I’m proud of what we’ve built at test IO, but I’m also eager to solve the bigger problems that an organization as capable as EPAM is well-positioned to solve. As one of our young-but-wise colleagues says, we have a lot to learn but also a lot to teach. And so, onward!