Macadamian boss 'handing off the keys' after Gatineau software firm bought by U.S. company

Fred Boulanger
Fred Boulanger is the co-founder and CEO of Gatineau software firm Macadamian. Photo courtesy Macadamian

A well-known figure in the National Capital Region’s tech scene is moving on from the software company he helped start nearly 25 years ago following the firm’s sale to a U.S. enterprise.

Macadamian Technologies co-founder and CEO Fred Boulanger said Thursday he’ll be “handing off the keys” of the Gatineau-based firm after a short transition period. 

“I see opportunities everywhere,” Boulanger told OBJ in an interview after the company announced it has been acquired by emids, a digital health-care services provider headquartered in Nashville. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“I’ve actually got to calm myself down,” he added. “That’s going to be a big job for the next little while, to just chill. At some point, when you do something for 23 years, you don’t know what’s noise from signal anymore. I want to figure out a bit of that before I make any next move.”

Boulanger launched Macadamian in 1997 after spending four years as a development manager at pioneering Ottawa software company Corel.

Over the next two-plus decades, his bootstrapped firm grew to more than 150 employees as it developed user-interface software for hundreds of customers ranging from fledgling startups to Fortune 500 clients such as Siemens. 

Major pivot

A major turning point for Macadamian occurred about five years ago, when the firm pivoted from working mainly with clients in the telecom sector to focusing almost exclusively on customers in the burgeoning health-care space. 

Today, more than two-thirds of Macadamian’s revenues come from designing apps and other mobile technology for clients that offer remote and digital health-care solutions.

“That’s what has been our winning horse,” Boulanger said. “Emids would not have sought us out if we hadn’t been health-care experts.”

A global company with more than 2,300 employees, emids specializes in consulting, engineering and app development services for health-care providers, insurance companies and life sciences firms. 

"That’s what has been our winning horse. Emids would not have sought us out if we hadn’t been health-care experts."

CEO Saurabh Sinha first put out feelers about a potential acquisition to Boulanger and his team nearly a year ago, before the novel coronavirus was widespread in North America. He was looking to boost emid’s brain power on the interface design side of the operation and felt Macadamian could be a good fit. 

“We don’t do any design stuff,” Sinha explained. “If you look at our core strengths, that’s the match.”

Boulanger, who noted he’d fielded more than his share of previous inquiries from potential suitors over the years and rejected them all, was intrigued. 

As the true magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis revealed itself, he said, it became clear that the digital transformation of health-care services was only going to accelerate. Boulanger felt the time had come to hitch Macadamian’s horse to a more powerful wagon that could deliver its products to a wider spectrum of customers in more markets.

“COVID has made one thing clear to everyone ​– meeting face to face to get care doesn’t have to happen as much anymore,” he said. “The floodgates are going to open to so many more things.”

'It just clicked'

Both entrepreneurs to the core, Boulanger and his U.S. counterpart didn’t take long to “get” each other, Sinha added.

“The vibes were positive,” he said. “It just clicked for both of us.”

For now, Macadamian will retain its head office in Gatineau as well as software development arms in Armenia and Romania. Whether it remains a separate brand will depend on how its products are integrated into emids’ offerings over time, Sinha said.

While the only leader Macadamian has ever known is preparing to hand over the reins to a new boss, Sinha sought to reassure both its local staff and the capital region’s tech industry at large that the U.S. firm has no plans to scale back its local operations. 

In fact, he said, the goal is quite the opposite.

“I think Canada is a very good talent base for the work we do,” Sinha said. “We’ve got to buckle up, because we're going to grow.”