The Group was founded in 1993 by Igor Borovikov, a graduate of Moscow State University with a PhD in Mathematics. Since its inception, the Group has grown from a local software reseller in Russia with only 10 employees, to a global IT solutions and services provider with 6,000 employees.
Over the course of its nearly 30-year history, the Group has established a proven track record of successful development and continued growth.
Softline has supplemented its organic growth with the acquisition of a number of IT value-added resellers and solution providers, as outlined below, with the Group’s first M&A transaction completing more than ten years ago. Since then, the company has completed over 10 acquisitions and continues to pursue M&A opportunities to augment its primary organic growth strategies of capability development, geographic expansion and customer acquisition.
Some of the highlights from Softline`s history include:
1993 – Softline is founded in Moscow, Russia with clear focus at scientific software licensing (Wolfram Research, Mathsoft etc) and utilizing a direct mail approach as its primary market strategy.
1993 – 1998 – expansion of software vendors portfolio beyond scientific software with the addition of a key mainstream global vendors (Microsoft, Borland, Symantec, IBM etc).
1998 – the Company becomes the leading software licencing partner in the Russian market. The Group launches the magazine-style printed software catalogue Softline Direct with a circulation of more than 150,000 printed copies per year, and invests heavily in marketing campaigns. Softline signs a formal partnership agreement with Microsoft LSP with a focus on large customers.
1999-2000 – following further vendor portfolio expansion to 500 vendors, the Group secures a position of clear market leader in Russia as a one stop shop for any software products. The Group takes a decision to expand in Russia, to countries in the former Soviet Union.
2001 – Softline opens its first office outside Russia in Minsk, Belarus. The Group founds the Softline Training and Education Center and open Technical support center for clients, as described under “—Products and Services” below.
2002 – the Group opens an office in Ukraine and starts further expansion to Russian regions by opening offices in Khabarovsk and Nizhny Novgorod.
2003, the Company launches AXOFT, a distribution business to serve clients through partner networks. The Group`s subsidiary in Minsk becomes the first Microsoft authorized partner in Belarus.
2004 – Softline establishes the “Microsoft Solution & Competency Center” to develop its services business. It also expands to new countries – Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, while continuing its growth in Russia, opening offices in Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk. The Group launches an ecommerce marketplace solution, Allsoft, which enables software vendors of any size to execute fully automated transactions with B2C and SOHO customers. Softline launches the All-in-One Ecommerce Solution to enable and outsource digital sales on software vendor websites by taking care of customer support, local language and currency, taxation and payment methods.
2005 – the Group launches Softline Consulting Services and expands to Kyrgyzstan. The Company begins to Audit accounts with Moore and Stephens as auditors. Softline achieves Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status.
2006 – Softline expands to Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. Group annual revenue reaches close to US$100 million.
2007 – the Group becomes a leader of software licensing in Russian and the CIS, and further expands into Georgia and Mongolia. The business also takes a decision to start international expansion to other emerging markets across the globe.
2008 – Softline launches in Turkey, Vietnam, Venezuela, Armenia and Turkmenistan. Group annual revenue exceeds US$350 million.
2009 – Softline launches a “software as-a-service” (SaaS) store and executes its first M&A transaction by acquiring ActiveCloud and Active Platform, a Belarussian cloud provider with a strong market position and key IP for Cloud Service Brokerage.
2010 – the Group expands to Argentina, Colombia, Romania and Moldova, and launches the Softline Services department. Allsoft ecommerce reaches a landmark volume of more than 500,000 paid customer orders.
2011 – expansion to Malaysia and Peru. Softline’s annual revenue exceeds US$500 million. The Group is recognized as Microsoft’s Global Partner of the Year in Software Asset Management.
2012 – Softline enters Cambodia, Laos, Costa Rica and Chile, and is being recognized as Microsoft Country Partner of the Year in Russia.
2013 – expansion to Brazil and Mexico. Softline launches e-store for B2B customers to streamline operations and deliver self-service capability for customers.
2014 – the Group opens a subsidiary in India. Softline becomes a Global LSP partner of Microsoft. The Company begins significant investment into Cloud and Services businesses and further diversifies its product portfolio by scaling hardware business with top global vendors in Russia and CEE regions. Softline acquires Novacom in Belarus – one of the leading local System integrators. Softline is recognized in Russia as one of the Top-5 largest companies on the IT market by “RIA News” agency.
2015 – Softline expands to Myanmar, and achieves Premier status with Сisco in 9 countries and LSP status with Microsoft in 19 countries in CEE, LATAM and Asia. The Group’s geographic footprint exceeds 30 countries and 80 cities.
In 2016, Softline raises equity from Da Vinci Capital, a leading independent Private Equity fund, and acquires Compusoftware (a leader in licensing and infrastructural services from Brazil). Softline builds the largest data centre in Eastern Europe, recognised as a “Datacentre Project of the Year” by Russian Data Center Awards 2016 and implements its first internet of things (IoT) projects. In addition, the Group introduces new services in its portfolio, including workplace-as-a-service, hardware-as-a-service and managed services. Softline Georgia is recognized as Microsoft Country Partner of Year. Softline expands to Thailand. Another milestone is reached with 99% of orders in the Group`s ecommerce platform being provisioned within several minutes after payment.
2017 – Softline achieves annual revenue of more than US$1 billion. The Group acquires Enaza (proprietary IP outsourced managed platform to enable telecom customers to sell software subscriptions. The Company also expands into Philippines, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Ecuador. Softline is recognized as Microsoft Country Partner of the Year 2017 in Chili, Cambodia and Kazakhstan. Softline E-commerce expands into several countries in Western Europe, Latin America and Asia. More than 50% of the Group’s Microsoft revenue is now generated outside of Russia.
2018 – Softline acquires a minority stake in Crayon, a Norwegian IT advisory firm which provides software licensing, software asset management and consulting services. The Company expands to Bolivia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia. It also receives a credit rating from Standard and Poor’s and successfully completes its first Public Bond offering. Softline is recognized as Microsoft Country Partner of the Year 2018 in Cambodia for the second year running. The Group launches Softline Digital Laboratory to provide digital transformation services for enterprise clients leveraging cutting edge technologies (IoT, Big Data, ML, VR and others). Launch of Softline Digital Platform for automated billing and provisioning of Cloud Services (Microsoft Office 365, Azure etc), subscription software and other recurring service offerings. The Group`s ecommerce team receives “Best Customer Experience team” from CX World Awards.
2019 – Softline acquires High Technologies Center, a company specialising in custom software development, including design, development, quality assurance and software testing, ongoing maintenance and support, and requirement analytics. The Group also acquires IP Cloudmaster (cloud service for managing of multi-cloud client`s infrastructure). Softline ecommerce platform transaction volume reaches 17 million orders since inception and enables automatic order execution for more than 200 vendors. The Company successfully places its second Public Bond issue. The Group expands to Egypt, Czech Republic, Poland, South Korea and Sri Lanka, and achieves global Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Service Provider (MSP) status (confirming the Group’s world-class expertise in delivering a wide range of project based and managed services around Microsoft’s Azure platform). The Group launches Softline Premier Services, which is aimed at proactively improving the maturity, stability, performance and security of infrastructure that leverages Microsoft solutions. Softline Premier Services aims to guarantee stable risk-free performance and the highest possible return on investment in IT products, offering dedicated expert support and regular on-site support to customers throughout the year.
2020 – Softline opens its new HQ in London, UK. The Group successfully places two Public Bonds and improves its S&P credit rating to B-Stable. Softline Finance is launched; a financial service offering from Softline allowing customers to receive installment payment plans for products and services acquired from the Group. Softline successfully closes three M&A deals by acquiring Embee - one of the leading IT market players in India (recognized as Microsoft Country Partner of the Year 2018 in India), Aplana – a Software Development outsourcing company in Russia with strong international project portfolio, and Softline AG – an IT consulting group headquartered in Germany with subsidiaries in Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK. The Group’s annual revenue exceeds US$1.8 billion.
In 2021, Softline keeps making progress towards its goal of becoming the leading Digital Transformation and Cybersecurity Service Provider with best emerging markets coverage:
Softline Ecommerce has 120+ employees and operates in 30+ countries, serves 10,000 orders per day, handles customer support requests for 1,500 clients per day, and supports more than 25 different payment methods and more than 30 currencies and locations.
Enaza works with more than 40 telecoms companies worldwide.
Softline’s Custom Software Development team has more than 500 employees.
The Company’ e-commerce solution is highlighted by IDC in its Vendor Spotlight 2021 report.
The Group achieves multiple Microsoft Advanced Specializations in Kubernetes on Azure, Linux and Open Source Database Migration to Azure, and Windows Virtual Desktop.
Softline operations in Bulgaria, Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam are all awarded “Partner of the Year” by Microsoft.