Sandra Kurtzig, Founder Of ASK Group, Secures $33 Million For New Venture

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The 80s tech icon returns with a successor to Manman software

Entrepreneur Sandra Kurtzig, the founder and former CEO of ASK Group and one of the early female tech icons, has secured additional $33 million for her new venture – the cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software company Kenandy.

Kurtzig is best known as the woman responsible for Manman ERP software – at one time, an immensely popular solution for mid-sized manufacturing systems. ASK Group was acquired by CA in 1994.

Back with a vengeance

ASK Group was founded by Kurtzig, then a young mother, in 1972 using $2,000 of her personal savings. In 1978, the company came out with Manman (shortened from “manufacturing management”) – EPR software that could run on Hewlett-Packard minicomputers instead of expensive mainframes, and which eventually became an  industry standard.

Kenandy logoThe company went public on NASDAQ in 1981, and by 1983, Kurtzig’s personal stake in the ASK Group was worth $67 million.

However, the company failed to adapt to the personal computing revolution, and its market share was eroded by more agile competitors. In 1985, Kurtzig left the CEO post, to focus on her personal life. On request of the board of directors, she took it up again in 1989, oversaw the acquisition of Ingres Corporation in 1990, and left again a year later. The company was eventually bought for $311 million by Computer Associates, which continued to offer Ingres and Manman under a variety of brand names.

Kurtzig’s new business, Kenandy, develops a cloud-based software suite that helps manage manufacturing, distribution, sales and other aspects of business. The company was launched in 2010 with headquarters in Redwood City, California. It had already raised $10.5 million in the first round of financing, and currently employs around 30 people.

Kenandy is named after named Kurtzig’s sons, Ken and Andy, who are serving as CEOs at tech businesses iReuse and Pearl.com respectively.

The company’s product could be seen as an update of Manman, with the addition of SaaS features. It has attracted investment from Salesforce.com and Lightspeed Venture Partners, among others. Kurtzig told Reuters that the idea for the business was suggested by Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.

The money raised in the second round will go on increasing Kenandy’s sales and marketing efforts. Kurtzig is planning to take the company public within the next two years.

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