Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Pat Romanski, Zakia Bouachraoui, Elizabeth White, William Schmarzo, Liz McMillan

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, CloudEXPO, Inc. and DXWorldEXPO, 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 $200 million. SYS-CON Media was listed three years in a row by Inc 500 and Deloitte and Touche among the fastest-growing private companies in America. Kircaali launched DXWorldEXPO LLC, a Lighthouse Point, FL-based "digital transformation" events company in March 2017.

Fuat completed Bogazici University (ranked among the top 100 universities in the world) Business Administration program in 1982 with a Bachelor's Degree in Istanbul, Turkey. He was one of 50 students accepted to the program out of over 1 million high school graduates.

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.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...