Welcome!

API Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Rishi Bhargava, Steven Lamb, Elizabeth White

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
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
Early adopters of IoT viewed it mainly as a different term for machine-to-machine connectivity or M2M. This is understandable since a prerequisite for any IoT solution is the ability to collect and aggregate device data, which is most often presented in a dashboard. The problem is that viewing data in a dashboard requires a human to interpret the results and take manual action, which doesn’t scale to the needs of IoT.
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verizon will acquire Yahoo's operating business for approximately $4.83 billion in cash, subject to customary closing adjustments. Yahoo informs, connects and entertains a global audience of more than 1 billion monthly active users** -- including 600 million monthly active mobile users*** through its search, communications and digital content products. Yahoo also co...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The best-practices for building IoT applications with Go Code that attendees can use to build their own IoT applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Indraneel Mitra, Senior Solutions Architect & Technology Evangelist at Cognizant, provided valuable information and resources for both novice and experienced developers on how to get started with IoT and Golang in a day. He also provided information on how to use Intel Arduino Kit, Go Robotics API and AWS IoT stack to build an application tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...