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Ever since he could remember, Leonid wanted to become a scientist.  In the first grade, he wanted to be astronomer. Later camethe dream of becoming a mathematician. Winning a competition in Ukraine (population of 50 million) provided the encouragement needed to pursue his dream. After struggling for years in the Soviet system, the time and dedication required to learn new languages, and a lot of hard work, he became a tenured professor. Over time Leonid became frustrated because he felt disadvantaged – both because he believed he was not good enough and the research students at the Faculty of Engineering in Tel Aviv University were not good. Leonid first got involved with business as a consultant: working on a project of hydrodynamic stability of salt gradient solar ponds. At a later stage, encouragement from friends in the business world led me to commercialize his ideas in algorithms of parallel computers. The idea was to create software that can port serial code to parallel computer or a grid of computers. The founders, Leonid Shtilman, Arkady Belostocky and Lev Zaidenberg raised a substantial amount of money and founded MuTek Solutions. After two years of development it became clear that it was not feasible to develop an universal software product for such porting. The company released many employees and started to develop a Bug Trapper, which was software designed for instrumentation and debugging. At this stage, the key technical people L. Shtilman and D. Barboy left the company to establish a new startup while MuTek (renamed to Identify Software) used the instrumentation of Bug Trapper for development of BlackBox, an application problem resolution software for Microsoft environments. The company was later acquired by BMC and yielded a good return on investment. 

The new company XOsoft started in 1999 by L. Shtilman and D. Barboy,  aimed to compete with Akamai by delivering dynamic (database) content to users. After two years of development it became clear that it would not be feasible to compete with Akamai. As CEO, I had to execute a difficult decision to release 70% of employees and to use XOsoft’s core technology of database synchronization and reinvent its purpose as a  high availability solution for servers. The reposition was successful and the company was acquired by CA (formerly Computer Associates). 

After a year with CA, L. Shtilman, G. Rapaport and D. Barboy founded a new company – Viewfinity. The original idea to create software that could automatically virtualize computers was found not feasible and the company repositioned to a system management software solution provider.  A few years later, the company embarked onto its second repositioning related to privilege management. As CEO, I had to spearhead this new direction and led the company to its successful acquisition by CyberArk.
The main lesson that I learned was to not be stubborn. If the idea isn’t working out, don’t bother with small changes – go for dramatic changes.


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