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Kerley has quit Norkom in wake of the sale to BAE systems

LESS than three months after Norkom was sold to BAE Systems, company founder and chief executive Paul Kerley has quit the company.

Mr Kerley told a venture capital conference yesterday he had severed ties with the financial software company last Friday only weeks after the company agreed to be sold to defence contractor BAE Systems in a deal worth €217m.

When the sale was announced, Mr Kerley said he planned on staying with the company "for the foreseeable future" but he resigned last week to pursue other interests. Mr Kerley, however, is to remain acting as a consultant at Norkom.

He founded Norkom in 1997 and is believed to have earned a €15m windfall as part of the sale, which was confirmed at the end of February. "There is nothing sinister behind my decision to leave the company," he told the Irish Independent. "I plan to start looking at other startups myself," he added.

Speaking at the InterTradeIreland Venture Capital conference in Dublin, Mr Kerley criticised the education system and the country's regulatory process, accusing them of being too complex and unnecessary.

"The agencies do a great job but they are overcomplicated. Do we need 38 county enterprise boards? Why not simplify the process and reduce that number to something more manageable?

"If a company wants to secure funding here there must be over 200 agencies it can apply to. That's unnecessary. Streamline the process and make it more accessible," he said.

"The curriculum in college doesn't work for entrepreneurs. For example, there is no module on how to build a company board, how to take a company public.

"These are issues that entrepreneurs struggle with time and again -- easily avoided mistakes are repeated.


Mr Kerley added the Government needed to help shorten the time before an entrepreneur could sell off their company to a bigger player, known as "exiting".

"Until recently we didn't have the infrastructure for entrepreneurs in terms of angel investing, seed capital and venture capital. We have that now but we have to try to take two years or so out of the cycle. In the 1990s an exit at €20m was good and in the last decade an exit at €50m was the mark. Now we at Norkom were able to exit at €200m but it took 13 years.

"Compare that to the likes of YouTube, where the founders were able to exit within five years with the company valued at more than $1bn. That is the gap we are talking about."

Irish Independent