Like many software companies born in the ’90s, Safe Software began in the spare room of a small suburban home (). This is where Don Murray and Dale Lutz embarked on their journey to create the most robust data integration platform.

1993 Don and Dale
1993 Don and Dale
Don

Don Murray

Co-founder and Co-CEO

twt @DonAtSafe

With a love for XML and a never-ending list of “[lack of] hair” jokes, Don leads the Safe team with care and tenacity. Working alongside both the development and sales team, Don’s able to see how things move from start to finish. Throughout this journey and many trips to the beloved water cooler and ice machine, you’re sure to find Don chatting with everyone from co-op students to long-time Safers who’ve now become friends.

Dale

Dale Lutz

Co-founder and Co-CEO

twt @DaleAtSafe

Dale’s adventures from the farm to the city have led him to Safe Software. His passion for understanding how things work and how they fit into the big picture has prepared him to lead the Safe team and oversee development of its core technology. In addition to leading Safe, Dale enjoys getting to know each and every Safer. Catch him in the lunchroom or one of the Star Trek inspired meeting rooms named after Dale’s love for the series.

It All Started with Forestry

While working for a company specializing in geospatial imagery, Don and Dale experienced the challenge of data interoperability first-hand. Exchanging data and maps while working on a project for the provincial government to help with forestry projects was not easy. Since different organizations use different systems that use different data schemas, information was often lost when shared. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. Data systems just weren’t developed to handle these challenges.

But, that didn’t mean they never would.

Together, Don and Dale created a solution. After hours of phone calls and time spent in those ‘90s-style spare bedrooms, Safe Software and the idea of what would become FME began. Safe and FME wouldn’t just help the forestry industry with spatial data -- it would later become a key tool used by anyone using any kind of data.

Safe Software at conference

Why “Safe Software”?

Questions about the name Safe Software are common along with “How did you get the safe.com domain?”, “Do you make security systems for banks?”, and “What happened to your hair?”

Before FME there was SAIF, also known as Spatial Archive and Interchange Format. SAIF made it easy to bring data together in a consistent way and have it be accessible to others who weren't using the same forestry-specific systems. It was the key that unlocked the ability to share and the opportunity to collaborate. Since “SAIF” is pronounced “safe”, Don and Dale chose “Safe Software” as their company name as a playful homage to the early days.

Since this was during the early days of the internet, applying for and receiving the safe.com domain was pretty easy. They purchased the domain for a whopping $50.

Learn About Safe Software right-arrow

So… Why “FME”?

As development continued, something more than SAIF was built: a software system that would read in data, transform its features, and write it out into something new. This software was given the name FME, a.k.a. Feature Manipulation Engine.

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A History of Safe Software

Safe Software Goes Bananas splash screen

From Going Bananas to Going on Tour

Over the years, Safe and FME have seen many changes.

As software, FME has become more advanced every year with increased data support, the introduction of support for APIs, and new automation capabilities. FME has gone from integrating a few spatial formats used mainly by GIS professionals to enterprise integration for multiple teams throughout an organization. There’s been a whirlwind of advancements.

As a company, Safe Software has also changed some of the ways we do things. Since FME is the result of passion and hard work, it’s important for us to actually work with and talk to FME users. Things like live chat and our community are one thing, but our favourite way to interact? Face to face. Or, in this new age, screen-to-screen. So, we organize events for everyone around the world where users can get together, chat, and talk to the team behind FME. After all, what use is it making a product for others if we don’t take the time to learn about who they are?

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Where We Are and Where We’re Going

Here we are, 25+ years later, and Safe Software and FME are doing better than ever. We’ve been helping more and more people around the world with their data, and have grown our team to include many bright minds with various backgrounds. We believe that with more diversity and inclusivity, we will be able to grow more as individuals and as a company allowing us to lend a hand to as many people as possible.

As a team backed by two pragmatic and ambitious founders, Safe has been able to thrive, adapt, and succeed in the tech industry. And, we’ve been able to have a lot of fun along the way.

So, what does the future hold?

It’s hard to say. But, we have no doubt that the team at Safe will continue to work to create innovative solutions, engage with more customers and partners around the world, and strive to give back to our community when we can.

As Dale has been known to say, “Do good when you’re doing good”. So, alongside our endeavours in the tech world, we choose to participate in events that teach youth about STEAM, support those who are less fortunate, and encourage individual Safers to do the same.

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FME Lizard