Former Halogen CEO Les Rechan resurfaces at Ottawa tech star Solace

Veteran Canadian tech executive Les Rechan is joining fast-growing Ottawa messaging and data-transfer technology firm Solace Corp. as president and CEO, four months after the takeover of his previous company, Halogen Software Inc.

Mr. Rechan, 56, became the top executive of Halogen in July, 2015, shortly after joining the board when long-time CEO Paul Loucks unexpectedly resigned, two years after the human resources software firm’s initial public offering. The Canadian-born, American-raised Mr. Rechan had previously spent most of his 30-year career in executive roles with IBM in Singapore, Chicago, London and Ottawa and served for two years as Cognos chief operating officer before the Ottawa software company’s purchase by Big Blue in 2008.

Halogen had a short life as a public company: it was taken over in a $293-million deal led by Saba Software Inc. and backed by Vector Capital and Halogen co-founder and executive chairman Michael Slaunwhite, one of several takeouts of small-cap Canadian tech companies in the past year.

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Solace, like Halogen, was founded in 2001. Founder Craig Betts, 43, spent seven hard years raising money and building out his firm’s technology, eventually drawing tens of millions of dollars in financial backing during the 2000s from Ottawa tech billionaire Terry Matthews, Teachers Private Capital, Genuity Capital Partners and Tandem Expansion Fund among others. “It was a lot of unglamorous work slugging it out in the trenches,” Mr. Betts said. “It turned out to be in a hot space with incredible technology.”

He described Solace’s technology as essentially a network built over top of the Internet that acts like an ultra-fast cloud-based digital equivalent of a registered mail system for corporate giants such as Royal Bank of Canada, London Stock Exchange and SAP. New York growth equity firm Bridge Growth Partners LLC bought 51 per cent of the company for upward of $100-million in April, 2016. Solace has added 100 people in the past year and now has close to 300 employees. It is believed to be growing at about 30 per cent a year, and industry sources peg annual revenue at more than $50-million.

Mr. Betts, a lifelong entrepreneur who will become executive chairman, said Mr. Rechan had become a mentor and close friend since the two met in a hot tub at Mont Tremblant a decade ago. The founder said he’d previously tried to hire Mr. Rechan a couple of times and said “he’s literally the only guy I’d know and have a decent enough relationship with to trust to be CEO of literally my entire adult life’s work.”

In addition to Mr. Rechan, the company recently hired Mychelle Mollot as chief marketing officer, following similar stints at Cognos and business intelligence software startup Klipfolio.

Mr. Betts said Solace could go public some day but added “we don’t have anything imminent” planned. News of the executive changes will be announced Friday morning.

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