From 1980, Irene Cara, “Fame”…
The play on words was just too tempting.
Back in my working days, I was a trainer/technical guru/installer/troubleshooter (and just about anything else they needed) for a software company, but you probably already knew that. The company, which wrote and sold mainframe software, built its software around a reporting tool that was practically a direct ripoff of another generic (non-proprietary) reporting tool (it was different enough that they couldn’t sue us). Gradually, we started adding query capabilities which would eventually allow us to rewrite the online inquiry, entry and update portions of our software using that tool. After several years, we were ready to start selling Release 1.0 of the software. We did so wwith great fanfare one Monday… and pulled the product off the market a week later, with no explanation as to why. A day or so later, the CEO fired the president, and the next day, we had a massive layoff where about a quarter of the staff was let go. Those of us who were left were assembled in a movie theater across the street and were told by the CEO about the “new direction” the company would be taking.
None of this made any sense until about a year later, when it was announced that we were purchased by a company who also owned our biggest rival in the software business, who planned to merge us with said rival and let us work out the details. The CEO of our company, who had made a lot of money when the company was purchased, would be the CEO of the new company, with his counterpart in the other company becoming president. (Of course, the first opportunity he got, the CEO fired the president, who had been his biggest rival in the business, and took on the title of “President and CEO.”)
Anyway, we realized we would have to muddle through somehow. Now it would make sense that, if we had a great reporting tool and an adequate online, and they had a great online and adequate reporting, we’d use our reporting and their online, right? Well, no. We were instead told that the mainframe was dead and client-server was the wave of the future, and we would, in the words of the immortal Max Headroom, “catch the wave.” The idea was that we would build a client-server product together, then try to convince our client base (which was quite happy with what they had) that they should migrate to the new product, giving us lots o’ money in the process.
Well, as you can probably imagine, that went over like a lead balloon. Some of our clients decided that they would evaluate other client-server offerings from our rivals and went with them rather than us. Others wanted to know if the client-server products would integrate with the software they already had, and when they heard it wouldn’t, they lost interest. (Of course, we had software that would do it, but for some reason chose not to offer it to our clients.)
I, on the other hand, had time on my hands and a desire to solve some of these issues, and actually produced some prototypes, all of which were met with little interest. I got the message, shut my mouth and did what I was told. The more I think about it, the more I realize I should have taken it as a sign, quit and started my own company to do what they seemed unwilling to do. Woulda, coulda, shoulda…
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