Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Larry Alton

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Java IoT

Agile Computing: Blog Post

Success, Arrogance, Rise and Fall

I wanted to share my thoughts with our readers and with the CEO of this software company

New Media on Ulitzer

Last week we were accidentally copied in on an internal e-mail from a software company with a market cap in excess of five billion dollars. As I read through this long e-mail thread, which included references to our company, I couldn't help but reflect on the past. I forwarded this e-mail to their CEO and he acknowledged its receipt. History is repeating itself, I realized, and I wanted to share my thoughts with our readers and with the CEO of this software company.

In 1985-86 I worked at IBM as a market research analyst in White Plains, NY, at the company's Information Systems and Communications Group headquarters. Our big boss then was Mike Armstrong. He often held staff meetings in our building at 44 South Broadway. On the day we found out from the Wall Street Journal that he had been appointed the head of IBM Europe, he held his last staff meeting there, a farewell meeting. Michael Armstrong was a well-spoken man who inspired his staff. We all speculated that one day he would be the next chief of IBM. He didn't get the top job at IBM, but after a long and successful career he took the helm of another giant ship - AT&T - as the chairman and CEO. After a five-year tenure at AT&T, he is now the chairman of Comcast Corporation.

I learned a lot from Mr. Armstrong and tried to apply this knowledge to my life and career over the next 19 years. Ten years ago when I founded SYS-CON Media, one of the rules I had learned was that arrogance could kill any company in any stage of its life. At the next industry conference, if you don't see me handing out sample copies of our magazines on the show floor, please feel free to accuse me of arrogance.

Over the past 10 years as we've served our i-technology markets, we have seen it all. We've worked with giants who were arrogant; we've worked with giants who were focused on their business goals and didn't have time for arrogance. We've worked with very sharp people from organizations both large and small. We've worked with arrogant and stupid people in organizations of all sizes.

What typically happens is that a small startup company comes up with a great new product and gets funding that helps them attain a hockey stick growth curve. In a couple of years they move out of their basement office, go public, and hire thousands of new employees. By all means they deserve their success. What usually goes wrong in the process though is that while the top management remains focused, the company finds itself with a new layer of middle managers. Too young to have an established corporate culture, the new middle managers with fancy new titles are now in charge of implementing the company's vision. In reality most of them have one goal in mind: When can they cash in their newly acquired stock options?

A few years ago, I remember receiving a phone call from a partner contact in Boston. I drove to his office from New York in three hours rather than simply returning his call, only to have the receptionist tell me that my contact was too busy to see me. I remember stepping into his office and seeing him playing Solitaire. He didn't even recall why he'd left me a message. This incident took place right after this company's IPO and right before their stock options lock-up period ended.

Since we have seen this movie over and over again in the last 10 years, here is how the story line usually develops.

The executives and managers and the company they represent are now too good to do what they had been doing before they found themselves in the midst of this incredible success. Arrogance kicks in. They start treating their partners with arrogance. They start treating their customers with arrogance. They start treating the world with arrogance. Arrogance is the beginning of the end. When the company starts realizing that they are the new miracle golden child of their industry, they also start finding out that they are surrounded by giants. If you look at the history, right after the arrogant phase come two options: either the company gets bought by one of the giants, or they experience a long period of decline and then get bought by a giant at scrap value. This rule doesn't change in hardware, software, anywhere.

I'm not implying that behind the mergers and acquisition news of every software company lies arrogance. I'm saying if you can't really afford to be arrogant, don't use the arrogant giants of your industry as your role model. If you analyze the successes and failures of the giants, you will see that most of their failures come from their arrogance too.

If you lose focus on how you came this far, you'll be faced with the two options I outlined above rather than becoming one of those giants you aspire to be. Don't treat your partners and customers who brought you where you are today with disrespect. Don't let your new middle managers lose your perspective. We would like to see you and your company grow to become one of those giants rather than read rumors everyday about which giant fish will be buying you soon.

- F.K. October 28, 1999

More Stories By Fuat Kircaali

Fuat Kircaali is the founder and chairman of SYS-CON Media, Cloud Expo, Inc. and Ulitzer, Inc.

Kircaali came to the United States from Zurich University, Switzerland in 1984 while studying for his PhD, to design computer systems for SH-2G submarine hunter helicopters for the U.S. Navy. He later worked at IBM's IS&CG Headquarters as a market research analyst under Mike Armstrong's leadership, an IBM executive who later ran IBM Europe and AT&T; and Fuat was the Director of Information Systems for UWCC, reporting to CEO Steve Silk (later Hebrew National CEO), one of the top marketing geniuses of the past two decades.

Kircaali founded SYS-CON Media in 1994, a privately held tech media company with sales exceeding $100 million. SYS-CON Media was listed twice by Inc 500 and Deloitte and Touche as one of the fastest-growing companies in North America. Kircaali launched Ulitzer, Inc., a revolutionary "new media" start-up in mid 2009.

Fuat completed Bogazici University Business Administration program in 1982 with a Bachelor's Degree. He was one of 50 students accepted to the program out of over 1 million high school graduates that year.

http://twitter.com/fuatkircaali

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
Digital transformation is changing the face of business. The IDC predicts that enterprises will commit to a massive new scale of digital transformation, to stake out leadership positions in the "digital transformation economy." Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, Oct 31-Nov 2, will find fresh new content in a new track called Enterprise Cloud & Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp emp...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, will discuss how given the magnitude of today's applicati...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...