This Satmar Hassid just sold his company to Microsoft
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Founder, president and CTO Shloma Baum at a conference. Photo Credit: FieldOne's Facebook page

Microsoft said the field services management company stood out among its competitors

You know how when you need a cable technician, they tell you he’ll be there between 9-12? What if they could tell you he’ll be there between 9 and 9:30? Wouldn’t that make you happier?

This is one of the reasons Microsoft is purchasing FieldOne Systems for an undisclosed amount.

FieldOne is a field service management software company, meaning that it helps large companies manage their employees who are out in the field, making sure they get to appointments on time and have all the equipment  they need.

“The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. All the amounts reported in the media are wrong,” the company’s CEO, Ilan Slasky, told Geektime.

By way of explanation Slasky provided Geektime with personal example of what field management software does. After Hurricane Sandy, his home near New York City was without cable, telephone and Internet service for several days. He called Verizon, but each time they sent out a team of technicians, they were missing a tool or part. It took four visits to fix Slasky’s problem. “I estimate that cost Verizon $4,000. You’d be surprised how many large companies are still dispatching technicians manually, using work orders with white, yellow and pink sheets of paper.” With FieldOne, the moment the call center receives the complaint, algorithms are figuring out who to dispatch, when, and what kind of equipment they need to bring. “For a large company, there are millions of possible permutations. Our software optimizes the work of people in the field.”

As Microsoft wrote in their blog post announcing the purchase, “FieldOne really stands out, providing enterprises with a comprehensive modern field service solution … including work order, automated scheduling, asset contract, inventory and procurement management, workflow capabilities and mobile collaboration – this gives companies the ability to do things such as adjusting routing on the fly and delivering service arrival estimate times within a smaller window, which is essential for more personal customer engagement.”

One of the largest exits for a Hassidic, or Haredi, company

But FieldOne stands out in another way as well. The company’s founder, president and CTO Shloma Baum is a Satmar Hasid, an ultra-Orthodox Jew from the town of Kiryat Joel, New York. As such, he is part of a growing movement of haredi startup entrepreneurs in both Israel and the diaspora. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are underrepresented in the hi-tech community, partially because they do not always receive a rigorous math and science education and in part because the hi-tech world likes to hire people in its own image: young, male, privileged graduates of elite army units in Israel or prestigious colleges in the U.S. Given Baum’s position straddling two worlds, he has had to think a lot about the relationship between a closed ecosystem (a company, religious community) and the outside world. In addition to FieldOne, according to reports, Baum has also developed a filter for haredi Internet users to help them avoid looking at sexually explicit or otherwise inappropriate sites.

“I hope this indeed becomes part of a broader and significant trend in Israel,” the company’s CEO Ilan Slasky, told Geektime.

He said that haredim in the Unites States are used to working with people who are “other,” and Shloma realized that to grow the company to the point where it would be acquired by Microsoft, he would have to hire the best people, regardless of their gender or religious or cultural background.

Slasky says he hopes that this acquisition will inspire entrepreneurs in the haredi community to aim high.

“I am personally excited about what the potential for this transaction with Microsoft could mean for the tens of thousands of people in Israel who identify with this religious background and who live in a cycle of poverty with little means to extract themselves from it given their lack of education. However, let’s not confuse formal education with motivation. A motivated individual, regardless of his educational or socio-economic background, has the full spectrum of opportunity available to him if he wishes to purse it with gusto.”

Shloma Baum, said Slasky, is a case in point. Growing up in the Satmar comimunity, he taught himself several programming languages as well as the needs of the industry.

“Today, as we announce Microsoft’s definitive agreement to acquire FieldOne, I am grateful and amazed by the journey we are embarking on as a company,” Shloma Baum said in a blog post announcing the acquisition.

“The future is very bright for the field service management software industry. Evolutions in technology are fueling rapid advances in the IoT, cloud, and big data. Companies need to shift from reactive to proactive service mode or they risk losing their customers.”

Featured Image Credit: FieldOne’s Facebook page

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Simona Weinglass

About Simona Weinglass

I’m an old-school journalist who recently decided to pivot into high-tech. I work in high-tech marketing as well as print and broadcast media covering politics, business culture and everything in between.

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