An interview with our founders

Ian Goddard

What are the first three things you do when you wake up in the morning?

I wake up at 6am and make a cup of coffee. I read the papers (The Australian, AFR and NYT) digitally, and then the dog and I go for a walk on the beach.

How would you describe Yarris’ culture?

Quality, accountability, respect and caring for people. This means compassion. For example, we look after new parents with generous allowances and we help those who might suffer a major illness with extra leave entitlements.

What brought you to leading Yarris technologies?

I founded the business with Jonathan Hayden back in 1995. At the very start the business was just me and one developer. Over the next few months we expanded to half a dozen people, fitted out our first office and won our first customers. After 25 years I’m still here, currently as the chair.

What is unique about Yarris? 

Yarris Technologies has several distinguishing characteristics.

We have a small team, about 40, but we operate 3 distinct businesses. That’s a huge task, life would be so much simpler if we had concentrated on one business but we were always ambitious.

Secondly, we provide mission critical software to important industries and our customers are very long term. One VC we met said they had never met a company with such long-term customer relationships.

Finally, Yarris was a world pioneer in SaaS. We provided software as a service in 1998. It wasn’t called SaaS or cloud then, it just seemed like the logical thing to do.

How has the landscape of SaaS changed over the last 20 years?

Twenty years ago SaaS barely existed.

Our cloud service began with a small server in a cupboard under the stairs in 1998. Things were a bit hit and miss early on as the industry sorted itself out. Once I recall I kicked out the power cord for the emergency power back up by mistake. If the server failed then we were off the air until we fixed it. I don’t recall us offering, nor being asked for, SLAs. I think it was in about 2000 that we drafted our first SLAs.  

After a year or so we graduated to a third party service and rented a server storage cage the size of a shipping pallet to house our servers. I remember visiting the service at the very beginning. It was a large building in South Melbourne with big empty floors housing just a few cages owned by the few serious online businesses in existence back in the nineties. That space filled up rapidly with other cages as the internet became mainstream.

Our next move was to a sophisticated data center in Williamstown. By now we were spending $50,000 a month on new servers and hiring the staff to maintain them. This was state of the art, but it was expensive.

Some years ago we broke new ground and became an early customer of AWS. We liquidated all that equipment and closed our data center account. This was a huge step change for us. We gained flexibility with low cost that was formerly impossible.

It surprises me to read that even today there are still so many businesses using on premises software. The advantages of cloud are overwhelming, and the capacity and quality of the big cloud providers is immense.

What has changed in the technology space for (Claims Management Software)?

To start with, claims are now managed by software. When we began the industry was paper based. When we launched Arnie over 20 years ago we visited the insurers and the repairers one by one and explained this new concept for managing the repair process.

Today, the claims management systems are linked with the repair management systems and our AI is starting to help predict outcomes and speed up decision making. At the same time the consumers are gaining some control and transparency into their claims.

What is the most exciting thing you do in your role?

I love finding better ways to do things. I detest wasting my time because of inefficient processes. The greatest pleasure is finding customers who want to change with our help.

There are so many old inefficiencies built into industry, commerce and bureaucracy. The biggest frustration is the difficulty of persuading customers to change and adopt a new way, even if it is obviously cheaper, faster and will delight the end customer.

What do you love most about Yarris? 

I love the culture and the way the people treat each other.

Ian Goddard is the Chairman and founder of Yarris Technologies.


Katherine King

What are the first three things you do when you wake up in the morning?

As I put my feet on the floor I remind myself to be grateful for my family and friends, my country, my freedom and the lack of snow. I drink several coffees as I read the Age, ABC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and then a quick check of Facebook and Insta to see what I’ve missed overnight. 

How would you describe Yarris’ culture?

We’re a company filled with brilliant, quixotic, diverse individuals, working together like a family. We share the burdens, the triumphs, the failures and the victories. We join together, ‘pulling the plough’, on this big, happy, successful, messy science experiment we call Yarris Technologies.

What brought you to leading Yarris technologies?

Before Yarris I’d only ever worked at large companies, like the National Australia Bank, Australia Post and St Vincent’s Hospital. I loved those experiences and I learned a lot, but I was attracted to the idea of working in a place that can change and flex quickly, adapt to what’s happening today and not be stuck in one way of doing things. I’ve always worked in some aspect of technology, but never in a software company, so I thought this would be a perfect mix of my background, preferences and qualifications. I wasn’t sure how long I’d stay, but here I am 10 years later, still loving it. 

What is unique about Yarris? 

Yarris is an astounding place. We have three separate software platforms designed, developed and maintained by our people. We built all of this ourselves! Hundreds of thousands of people have used our systems, and more than a billion dollars of services pass through our systems every year. But we don’t really push ourselves into the limelight – we are far too modest, probably to our detriment. 

How has the landscape of SaaS changed over the last 20 years?

Software as a Service (SaaS) was such a great idea. Purchasers subscribe to outsourced software, let the company manage it, then pay a fraction of the cost because they don’t need to purchase or maintain hardware. Initially SaaS was really fraught with security and reliability issues. Downtime was not rare. It was almost a different planet compared to today, where security and reliability are assumed as the lowest common denominator and if you had unscheduled downtime it would be a catastrophe. All the IT cowboys are gone.

Many providers, us included,  went from purchasing their own hardware, to a private cloud, then to a public cloud. I worked with the team while we made all of those transitions. I’ll never forget the day shortly after I joined, when the infrastructure manager told me we had a problem with the storage area network (the SAN) and we’d need to purchase a new one. I said “No worries, we should just go ahead and buy a new one”. He had to pick me up off the floor when he said it was going to cost $150,000. 

One of the best projects we worked on as a team was moving our infrastructure to the AWS public cloud. All of the teams were involved, and it took many months. After that our security posture could really step up, and I slept better at night! 

What has changed in the technology space for claims management software?

Claims management has changed from a fully paper based exercise in futility and frustration to a highly automated process powered by automation, AI and machine learning. It couldn’t be more different, and it’s a lot more fun and interesting for all of the people involved, because they use their smarts to solve the difficult problems, while the system solves the simple problems. 

What is the most exciting thing you do in your role?

I like designing software and thinking about where the products need to go next. What are our customers asking us to create? What are our competitors doing? What is happening in the wider world? I like strategy and product roadmaps the best, because they are the stepping stones to the future of the product and for our company. 

What do you love most about Yarris? 

I love the people, the products and the possibilities! We stand together, walking in the directions that we collectively decide, and if we win – or lose – we’re responsible. It’s a fantastic feeling to hold your future in your own hands.

Dr Katherine King is the CEO of Yarris Technologies and the Co-founder of Dazychain legal matter management platform

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