Our History

Part of the Problem

Prior to founding Semantic Arts, Dave McComb was "part of the problem". He started his career with Andersen Consulting (the part of Arthur Andersen that eventually became Accenture). In his 13 years at Andersen, he led a number of large, successful enterprise application development projects, including two custom ERP design, build, and implementation projects (one of which took place in Papua New Guinea, one of the remotest places in the world).

He left Andersen to pursue and promote the adoption of what was then the relatively new discipline of Object-Oriented development. It was in this incarnation that he began to see the semantic light. The process of identifying and designing the "classes" in an object-oriented system seemed so arbitrary and unprincipled. Two early white papers provided the impetus to begin viewing information from the vantage point of meaning.

In 1992, while working with the architects who designed all the Wal-Marts in North America, he led his first semantic modeling workshop and began building Object-Oriented systems around a semantic core.


In the mid to late 1990s, while getting his dot come merit badge, he co-founded Velocity.com, which was a healthcare software startup. One day while drawing a detailed rendition of the architecture on a white board, it occurred to him that lurking in the may configuration files scattered throughout the architecture was a model. This eventually became a semantic model, and not of an application but applications themselves. This led to rebuilding the architecture around this model, which was patented as the first fully model-driven architecture.

Velocity's dot come bubble burst, along with so many others, in the spring of 2000. As the architecture and the patents were caught in the burning wreckage of velocity.com, Dave and some of his co-conspirators postulated that what they had learned in uncovering and applying semantics might form the basis for a professional services consulting practice.

Semantic Arts Is Born

Semantic Arts was launched in the summer of 2000. In 2001, the Tim Berners-Lee article in Scientific American hit the newsstands. It looked like it would only be a matter of time before companies were clamoring for Semantic Technology.

It was a matter of time. A lot of time. For most of those early years the crew bid on and performed traditional IT consulting projects (feasibility studies, requirements analysis, long-range IT plans, architecture designs, and the like). Every project was executed using Sematic Technology, mostly in the background, occasionally surfacing in some deliverables.

Dave McComb wrote Semantics in Business Systems in 2003 and co-founded the Semantic Technology Conference in 2007. And as Yogi Berra has so famously observed, "They stayed away in droves." Finally, the ice began to melt. Companies began asking for semantics. The "O" word (Ontology) could be uttered in polite company. The firm began building ontologies and designing semantic architectures to implement them. And the ontologies and architectures languished on bookshelves.

The firm pivoted. Semantic Arts needed to become enablers, so they built architectures, loaded the architecture with ontologies, and populated it with triples. As with many software companies they built their own internal systems using the approaches they espoused, in the process known as "eating your own dog food." By building their own systems with the technology they recommended to clients, they get an early preview of what works and what doesn't work.

Expansion & Growth

As the years continued, Semantic Arts has grown and expanded. In 2020, Semantic Arts Canada and Semantic Arts UK were formed to better serve our clients and attract top talent from around the globe.

With a team of nearly 30 employees, we are well positioned to continue to serve existing clients as well as new ones along their journey towards a data-centric architecture. With clients of all sizes across multiple industries as well as projects within a variety of business units, odds are good we have the experience to help with any project.

Semantic Arts remains committed not only to serving clients, but also contributing to the greater field as thought leaders and innovators. You'll find members of the team giving presentations at conferences, sharing knowledge with the next generation at universities, presenting trainings to companies wishing to develop semantic solutions, and writing/blogging about current industry trends.