Bob Newman, a co-founder of JD Edwards, was the catalyst in the formation of what is now referred to as the Colorado Technology Association. JD Edwards (now owned by Oracle) and other Colorado-based software companies were members of a national software trade association based in Washington DC that is now known as Information Technology Association of America (ITAA).
At many of the ITAA national conventions, there was always a break-out session for Regional Software Associations. Bob attended these breakout sessions and was impressed with how active some of these associations were including Massachusetts Software Council and Silicon Valley Software Association. Clearly these regional software organizations were important to the building a local infrastructure that assisted software companies in their region to collaborate, network and build a stronger industry base.
By 1990, Bob determined that software companies based in Colorado would be at a disadvantage to those from states where a structure for education, sharing, and creating a robust business climate was being fostered by a regional or statewide software trade association. At the time, no one really knew how many software companies there were in Colorado, but the idea of researching the actual size of the industry and economic impact of the industry and forming a statewide software association was an idea that seemed worth pursuing.
Back in Denver, Bob Newman met with Gene Nightingale, a neighbor, who was Director of the State Office of Planning and Budget, at that time the state agency responsible for economic development in Colorado. He asked if the State of Colorado would be interested in seeing a statewide trade association be organized and, if so, could they help front some seed money to get a statewide software association started. Bob was told that the only way to help get funding for his idea was to ask Governor Roy Romer.
Gene Nightingale also suggested to Bob that the best way to talk with the governor in an informal situation. So Bob waited in a hallway while Governor Romer was speaking to a business group at the Inverness Hotel and caught him as he was leaving after his speech was completed. Running alongside as Governor Romer briskly walked to his car, Bob gave him his 30-second elevator speech and asked for his help to fund a new statewide software association. Governor Romer said he liked the idea. He was not able to provide funding, but offered to let Bob use his name and state letterhead for announcing a formation meeting of the organization.
So Bob followed up by calling 10 other software executives he knew. Some were very good friends, some just professional acquaintances and one or two he knew because they were active ITAA members. He offered to buy lunch if they would agree to come over to JD Edwards and discuss the idea further.
The original group of 11 software executives included:
Each person Bob called thought the idea had merit and agreed to his invitation to discuss it over lunch at JD Edwards. In typical fashion, The group consensus was to learn more about how other statewide and regional software associations operated and to find out what worked and what didn’t. Don McCubbrey, Ray Mueller and Bob Newman volunteered to investigate the idea further by talking with and visiting several successful regional software associations.
Collectively, Don, Ray and Bob talked to a half dozen regional software associations. They got the most help and assistance from Peter Generoux, Executive Director of The Utah Software Association which was 40% financed by the State of Utah, had several large corporate sponsors including Word Perfect, 200 company members and a paid staff of 3. They went to Salt Lake City to meet with their staff and Board members. Their organization's articles and bylaws were used as a model to form a statewide software association in Colorado.
Each of the original group of 11 agreed to fund a membership drive. Some contributed $500. Some gave less. Each of the 11 founding members also contributed a variety of mailing lists. The group then agreed to hire two students from the University of Denver to combine each of the mailing lists into a preliminary data base. They came up with 1200 software companies large and small located throughout all of Colorado that they could send a direct mailing to. The group then used state letterhead that Governor Romer had offered to announce a formation meeting. About 50 companies responded and Peter Generoux, the Executive Director of the Utah Software Association agreed to speak. The formation meeting happened in the later months of 1993.
At the end of first meeting, it was agreed to form the Colorado Software Association (CSA) as the 25th regional software association in the country. Since CSA didn't have any state funding, those in attendance opted for an all volunteer structure, assisted by a meeting planner for mailings and meeting arrangements. Richard Custard, who, at the time, worked for Bob Newman at JD Edwards became very active with the organization and eventually became CSA’s first paid Executive Director in 1995. Cathy Ewing served as Executive Director of the organization from 1997-2002. Su Hawk led as President 2003-2013. The current CEO is Andrea Young.
Early on, a corporate sponsorship fundraising effort was undertaken. The original four Founding Corporate Sponsors included JD Edwards (later purchased by PeopleSoft and then Oracle), PriceWaterhouseCoopers, StorageTek (later purchased by Sun Microsystems and then Oracle) and Cooley Godward (now Cooley Godward Kronish). Three of the original four founding sponsors have continued through the years as major investors.
The Evolution of Our Name
The founding name for the association in 1994 was the Colorado Software Association (CSA). In 1999, the CSA modified it's name to include "internet" to encompass this major technological transformation, becoming the Colorado Software and Internet Association (CSIA). In 2005, the CSIA adopted the tagline "Colorado’s Technology Association" to reflect it's expanding charter to serve both technology companies and technology departments within non-technology companies. In 2011, the association elevated it's tagline to replace the name CSIA, essentially naming the association the Colorado Technology Association to simplify and more clearly embrace the Colorado Technology community being served.
Continual Transformation to Deliver Value
Over the years, the Colorado Technology Association has provided hundreds of roundtables and seminars for thousands of industry executives, helped create awareness of the economic impact of software and technology businesses located in Colorado, assisted with relocation efforts and startup of new software and technology employers in Colorado, spawned a community foundation and served as a public voice of the industry.
Today, the Colorado Technology Association is the leading technology industry organization in Colorado. Through public policy and advocacy work, the Colorado Technology Association represents the more than 5,500 technology companies in the state (including software, hardware, storage, semiconductors, etc.), and thousands of technology professionals. The Colorado Technology Association is proud to have more than 90 dedicated volunteers who serve on any of the nine active committees/task forces, and more than 750 companies directly engaged in the Colorado Technology community. Major events draw between 600 and 1,000 people to each event, with more than 25% at the Director, VP or C-Level.
The Colorado Technology Association also provides a variety of compelling programs offering C-level insight into today's business and technology issues. And, the association presents opportunities to network on key initiatives, allowing members to create and expand business relationships with other software and technology member companies. We work directly with elected officials, governmental agencies, higher education representatives, economic development and business leaders in Colorado to effectively represent the interests of the technology industry.