Please note: The author of this article has requested to remain anonymous. They are NOT associated with midrange.com in any way.
Once upon a time a developer had a vision for making writing software easier. An entrepreneur could see this vision too, so paid for the developer to implement this vision. Thus, was a software product born.
Time passed and the vision grew. In the fullness of time there was a team of developers, testers, support people, documenters, marketers, sales people and services people who all shared the vision. More time passed and the software product grew, diversified and the vision prospered. But then as the entrepreneur aged they realised that the vision could not be totally fulfilled without more capital for marketing and more growth.
The entrepreneur was approached by a corporation that seemed to specialize in re-invigorating software products, and the entrepreneur was assured that the corporation would keep the vision alive and growing. So the entrepreneur, with heavy heart, decided to sell his vision to the corporation, yet happy in the knowledge that the vision was going to be nurtured.
The entrepreneur stayed on with his team for a little while, but ultimately left. This was almost the signal for the real intentions of the corporation to be revealed.
Seemingly by accident it was revealed that only a very small fraction of the various members of the team would be required ongoing. In parallel it was revealed that the nature of the work for the team was also going to change – from the original actual inception, coding, testing, integrating, documenting – to supervising low cost outsourced teams that would do these same things.
The original developer, after getting no answers from the corporation to questions arising from the accidental revelations of the corporation, resigned as they could see the vision dying. Other senior people, seeing what was going to happen with their jobs, also resigned.
The entrepreneur, being even more heartbroken at the treatment given to his shared vision, attempted to buy his vision back but it was not for sale.
The corporation has no room in its balance sheet or profit and loss statements for visions except inasmuch as they translate to customer loyalty, and customer loyalty can be maintained even when the vision has died, as long as a public semblance of the vision remains or the customers are truly locked in.
Unfortunately, this corporation, instead of specializing in re-invigorating software products as it proclaimed, had a playbook of buying up software companies that have a good large base of loyal and / or locked in customers, minimizing costs (read getting rid of most developers and outsourcing), and reeling in maintenance money that diminishes from year to year as customers realise that the semblance of a vision is not the same as an actual vision.
Also, unfortunately, the entrepreneur either was not aware of this playbook or was persuaded by the corporation that this time it would be different.
Thus, do visions die in this modern world.
1 Reply to “Requiem For A Software Company”
I can think of at least five or six companies in the IBM i world that this could have been written about. No doubt there are comparable stories in the mainframe world and elsewhere. Sad – but this is what happens when the next quarter’s profit is the only thing that matters.