Volume 7, Number 4, 1998

Vinny Smith's quest for ultimate software solution leads to California

When the surf's up at sunny Newport Beach, Calif., Vinny Smith, AS '86, is likely to be found in his office at Quest Software Inc., overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island.

Vincent Coburn Smith Jr. has worked his way up from a software developer fresh out of college to become the chief executive officer of a high-growth software company.

"I was always interested in business," says Smith. "With a major in computer science and a minor in economics, the University of Delaware gave me an excellent base to prepare for the high-tech industry," he says.

With 225 employees and expected sales of over $30 million in 1998, Quest Software <www.quests.com> has offices throughout the United States and international offices in the U.K., Germany and Australia. Smith says Quest also is planning an initial offering to become publicly traded sometime within the next 12 months.

"We have great products in a growing market. Our number-one challenge is
finding great candidates to fill all of our job openings," Smith says. "Recently, we had the opportunity to hire a UD graduate, and we were delighted when she accepted the position."

While still at UD, where he participated in wrestling and rugby, Smith and a friend, Craig Colby, AS '85, also ran a successful computer software consulting company.

"Craig and I are still partners in business. Together, we own 11 restaurants in Delaware and the South Jersey area, including the Ground Round in Newark, Del.," Smith says.

When he graduated in 1986, Smith landed a position with Oracle Corp., then a medium-sized software company. Today, Oracle is the second- largest software company in the world, with over $8 billion in sales. Smith got the job at Oracle thanks to a contact the UD economics department gave him.

Once there, he worked his way up through the ranks.

"In the course of five years, I became a group director in the U.S. sales organization at Oracle, managing over 50 sales representatives. It was an incredible learning experience," Smith says.

It was at that point that Smith decided to go out on his own.

In 1992, he and an associate from Oracle started a Sydney, Australia, and San Francisco-based company named Patrol Software, making a product that monitored Oracle database environments. Two years later, after considerable growth in the company, they sold Patrol to BMC Software. With the acquisition, Smith moved from San Francisco to Houston to help BMC with the transition.

Patrol's software has gone on to become one of the largest systems management products in the industry, making BMC one of the five most valuable software companies in the world, Smith says.

Scouting around for another challenge, Smith came upon Quest Software in 1995. Realizing its potential, he invested in the California firm, which at the time had only 25 employees.

Quest was founded in 1987 by Dave Doyle, now company president, and Doran Machin, now executive vice president. Smith became CEO of Quest in 1996, and he is leading the company into a period of growth that could make it a leader in its category of the software industry.

The company has an impressive customer list, including such giants as AT&T, Boeing, Citicorp, Exxon, America Online and the U.S. Army, and its software solutions enhance a business' database application environment.

"We make products that enable web-based information delivery, utilities for database monitoring, tuning and administration, as well as application 'fail over' systems in the event of a hardware or software problem," Smith says.

All the products are integrated into the Oracle environment. In the future, Quest's products will also support the Microsoft SQL Server database environment.

Harking back to his time at college, Smith says, "I have great memories from my UD days, especially considering that's where I met my wife, Kelly Thornton Smith, BE '87."

One of Smith's most fond memories is his study-abroad trip to Geneva, Switzerland. The semester exposed him to the international world of business in which he is now immersed, he says.

Despite a hectic schedule between family and work, Smith still finds time to surf, play golf and participate in other sports, one of which epitomizes his quest for the peak of the software business-mountain-bike riding.

-Phil Milford