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Thu 03 Apr 2003
Conversations with Visionaries of the Digital World
Category : Commentary/visionaries.txt
I've been looking for my book, "Candid Conversations with Visionaries of the Digital World" by Rama Jager and Raphael Ortiz. I've found its link at Amazon. I'm recommending this for people thinking of starting their own companies.
Among the people who contributed their thoughts about technology, leadership, and management were luminaries like Andy Grove (Intel), John Warnock and Charles Geschke (Adobe), Charles Wang (Computer Associates), and of course, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They each had a unique voice and an original vision. The editors did a nice job of preserving their cadences (eg., Charles Wang on making deals : "If you lay down with dogs you get fleas.")
Jager and Ortiz were in search of an answer to the question, "was it just luck?" that allowed all these people to become successful. The answers we get acknowledged the role played by luck, but there was much that was humane, insightful and passionate and, surprisingly considering the egos here, not a lot of hubris.
For myself, I was actually in search of something more. For example, listen to Bill Gates : "Take PC ownership cost as an example. It's too high today. A PC is too hard to install. We must work a lot to make sure that PC cost of ownership is low and that the PC is a great appliance... We have too many stores of data today. We have file systems, message systems, directory systems, database systems, and all sorts of different software that optimizes all those things. That just isn't going to cut it. When you say to a small business, "Hey, get a server," they're not going to pick a database, a mail package, a communications package, read about them, install them, and learn about them independently. They are going to need one integrated thing that hides all those differences."
But there are businesses like Symantec that depend on the PC being hard. Listen to Gordon Eubanks at Symantec: "Having books about your products didn't mean the product was deficient, but it just helped the product's market. Our business adds value to operating systems. It's the most proven software business in existence. We add value to knowledge users. We have a tremendous infrastructure that works closely with Microsoft. This is a tremendous barrier to competition..."
So there is a diversion between statements of ideals and business realities. I'm actually trying to understand technology leadership or, "Why did something so difficult to install, manage, and use (Windows) become so popular in the face of something that is so much better (Mac)?"
Does it always have to be so? At stake is the question, "How do we do right by our users?" How do we make money and still do good and know that we had not neglected a better way?