20th_anniversary_logoDec 13, 1993.  The day Safe Software was officially incorporated, and the day that marks the start of our now 20 year long quest to smash the barriers that stop spatial (and nonspatial) applications from living in harmony.

What a journey it has been! To celebrate, today, for the first time ever, we’re revealing the rather simple set of rules we’ve had guiding us all this time.  Taken from our 1996 Christmas party presentation (done as a handout – no projectors back then – to all 4 attendees – yes, we knew how to party), here they are:

image003#1 – Keep customers happy.  This is not an easy task, and it only gets harder as you get more customers who get ever more trained with your product and who solve ever harder problems with it.  But it still is Job 1 at Safe, and really is at the root of all that we do.  So thank you to all our customers, whether you’ve been one for 20 years or 20 minutes – we pledge to continue working hard to keep your applications singing together and your data moving where it needs to be.

#2 – Juggle consulting with product development. Right from the beginning we recognized the potential tension between selling time and making the best product possible, and have been intentional about building out a partner network of certified FME professionals who can provide expertise to customers who don’t yet have it in house.  This has freed us to focus on delivering the best training we can, for free, and feeding back all the input we get from our network into our product development roadmap.

#3 – Plan, build, and invest for the future.   We’ve always invested heavily into product R&D – taking wherever we can the long term view and placing technology bets that we know may take years to pay off.  For example, back in 1998 we began experimenting with then-new Java server technology, laying the foundation for what we today know as FME Server. Another example: FME 2014 marks the end of a 6+ year sub-quest to rehost our user interfaces on the desktop on a modern technology platform.  This sets us up very nicely for creating an amazing set of innovations that we can’t wait to unveil in the years to come…with the bonus that we immediately get a beautiful new look as well as cross platform capabilities for our products.


20th Anniversary-inspired fan art from long-time FME expert SRG

#4 – Have fun. We do believe in having fun. We’ve even had our office neighbours burst into one of our meeting rooms asking us to keep the laughter down.  (I guess accountants find that disruptive.) The solution – we took over their space.  We refuse to stop having fun. It starts with our splash screens and goes from there.  We are deadly serious about our mission and our work, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time while we execute. Don’t believe us? Come to the FME World Tour in April or the FME User Conference in  June and experience it first hand.

#5 – Have a life.  We believe that life is about more than just work, and try hard to send everyone home after 8 good hours every day.  We’re marathon runners, not sprinters.  We like it that way. So do our families.

So here’s to the next 20 years. May they be as fun, life filled, happy, and rewarding for Safers, their families, and our customers, as the last 20 have been.   And we’re sure they’ll go by even quicker, because “Ain’t it funny how time flies, when the best is yet to come.”


Happy Birthday Safe.


Early Unboxing Picture (Video wasn’t invented yet) of first Safe Software hardware purchase – 21” CRT Monitor


About FME

Dale Lutz

Dale is the co-founder and VP of Development at Safe Software. After starting his career working spatial data (ranging from icebergs to forest stands) for many years, he and other co-founder, Don Murray, realized the need for a data integration platform like FME. His favourite TV show is Star Trek, which inspired the names for most of the meeting rooms and common areas in the Safe Software office. Dale is always looking to learn more about the data industry and FME users. Find him on Twitter to learn more about what his recent discoveries are!


7 Responses to “It was 20 years ago today…”

  1. Sabrina says:

    Happy 20th Birthday! Great photo!

  2. Jason Birch says:

    Safe Software is, hands down, the most customer-centric, responsive, and generally awesome company that I have ever had the privilege to work with. You were Google before Google existed, and I think you’ve perhaps managed to retain the sense of joy and innovation better than they have with growth. I’ve only been here as a customer for the last 11 years or so, but the experience has been consistently great and the products keep getting better. Thank you Dale, Don, and the entire team of passionate and expert folks at Safe!

    • Dale says:

      Thanks for the kind words Jason. Quite honestly, one of the greatest things about the last 20 years has been the opportunity to interact with such an amazing group of wonderful people. I think there is some natural selector that causes the highest quality people to become spatial data jockeys, and it has been a privilege to work with so many of them. So you’re welcome; it’s been amazing to be able to have worked with you and so many other fantastic people.

  3. Peter Laulund says:

    Hi Dale

    I can only agree with Jason, you are doing a great job, even after 17 years it is still fun, and FME still evolves in amazing ways. I will also like to thank you for the way you listen to you customers’, other company’s could learn from that.

    So happy anniversary to you, Don and all your employees


    • Dale says:

      Thanks Peter, it has been a great pleasure to work with you over these years. We’ll continue trying to do our best to listen in the years ahead.

  4. marco fidos says:

    Don, Dale,

    As I mentioned during the last UC, you’ve inspired more than you could imagined… I heard that heroes are not only the brave and strong guys, but also, and most important, those who do the things in the right way, no matter the situation, inspiring people to do the some and make the world better…. you are this kind of hero! (of course you’re that first kind, but only when it concerns XML) Thanks to allow me to be part of your story!

    Marco Fidos

  5. Dale says:

    Thanks for the kind words Marco, it has also been a pleasure for us to watch your business grow and flourish over these past years. It is wonderful to have you as an important chapter in our story.

    All the best.

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