Ellis takes the reins from Univa founder
March 13, 2006
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Today, Mike Ellis,
49, will be named CEO of Lisle-based Univa, one of the Chicago
area's most promising tech startups. Ellis takes the helm from
Univa co-founder Steve Tuecke, 38, who continues as Univa's chief
arrival adds a seasoned leader with strong global business-development
credentials. Ellis is a former senior vice president at i2 Technologies,
the logistics enterprise software company. He helped guide i2
from startup, through growth, and into an established global enterprise
software provider. He was responsible for developing distribution
relationships at i2 with technology powerhouses including SAP,
IBM, HP, Accenture, Microsoft and Oracle. Prior to i2, Ellis held
key roles at Oracle. Most recently, he served as managing director
of Ellis Management Group.
Ellis is pumped up
about Univa's prospects: "I've been in the software business
over 25 years. Univa is like no other software startup."
That's more than new
CEO enthusiasm. Univa could affect enterprise computing the way
Google changed search technology.
is grid computing?
"Jim has a unique
combination of sales, marketing and channel experience,"
says Tuecke, who co-founded Univa with Ian Foster and Carl Kesselman.
Tuecke was the chief technology architect behind Univa's respected
Tuecke, Foster and
Kesselman are luminaries in the emerging area of grid computing.
Grid computing was created at Argonne National Labs and the University
of Chicago to bring massive computing resources to bear to solve
complex problems in high-energy physics, brain research and climate
Univa was founded to
help meet the challenges of deploying global technology hardware,
software and human resources in the commercial and public sectors.
While enterprise software solutions like SAP, Peoplesoft, Siebel
and Oracle help knit together large global companies such as Abbott
Labs, Wrigley, Goldman Sachs and Toyota, enterprise-scale computing
remains complex, inefficient and expensive.
Univa aims to improve
the underlying efficiency and effectiveness of global computing
Tuecke compares today's
use of technology in global companies to having outstanding toys.
is, who gets to use the toys and when?" Tuecke asks. "Should
every child get their own toy box chock full of the newest toys?
You can't afford to give every one of those kids their own toy
box with all their own copies."
Yet a lot of global
organizations are doing just that when it comes to technology.
Tuecke adds, "That's
why you have 10-to-15-percent server utilization. Univa provides
a referee in the middle that allows the kids to play with the
toys, but to share them in an organized fashion."
Tuecke's talking about
more than hardware efficiency. Business processes need to be prioritized.
Grid computing assures that a bank puts the right technology resources
on fraud problems or executing critical transactions.
Grid also helps companies
align their diverse platforms of computers and software packages.
Ellis plans to expand
Univa here in Chicago.
"We have no intention
of moving the company," Ellis says. "Chicago is a fantastic
business climate in terms of young companies and growth opportunities."
Ellis and Tuecke report
local business leaders are helping Univa.
"VCs in other
parts of the country told us we couldn't possibly build a tech
company in Chicago," Tuecke said. The reality has been quite
VCs who didn't fund us have helped plug us into the community,"
Univa is backed by
ARCH Venture Partners and New World Ventures, along with Appian
Ventures and OCA Ventures. Tuecke also points to support from
the Illinois Venture Capital Association, the Illinois Information
Technology Association and TiE (the Indus Entrepreneurs), which
helped raise the company's profile and aided in sourcing top tech
and management talent.
Principle author Adam Hartung discusses
the challenges of fostering a corporate culture of innovation
Tuesday night at the MIT Enterprise Forum at Gardner Carton &
Labs global VP Don Patton talks about biotech innovation
and growing the medical diagnostics business Thursday at the Business
Marketing Association at noon at the Gleacher Center.
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.