I was with a group of consumer and tech journalists having dinner last week at The Globe restaurant in San Francisco. The Globe is at ground zero of the dot-com meltdown, and as the wine flowed, talk turned to those execs we felt did the best and the worst job at handling the digital downturn. This discussion soon evolved into naming the 10 best and 10 worst execs from Silicon Valley.
Id like to be able to reveal the whole list, but, truth be told, we never got past trying to establish the rules for our dinner contest. Could an exec who had a great idea and a goofy idea qualify for both lists? Yes. Could someone who really blew through some serious money on the third or fourth iteration of an already-defunct idea capture two or three spots on the list? Yes. Were journalists eligible for the best list? But of course. What about the worst list? No way. After all, we were making the rules.
It was good fun and a fitting way to finish talking about the dot-com meltdown. After all, its already old news, and in this business, last weeks news is ancient history. Rather than reflect on past errors, better to find the new products, services and marketing strategies that make sense for customers to invest in for the current economy, not for some imagined economy. For example:
Management software. As Paula Musich reports in this issue of eWeek, management software for taking control of the IT infrastructure is enjoying healthy growth in an uncertain world. Why? First, after the network equipment spending spree, IT managers must now figure out how to keep track of the infrastructure. And, second, senior execs want to make sure they are getting full network utilization before investing in more equipment. Management software answers both those needs. Answering those two needs adds up to a strong business model.
And not one, but two Analysts Choice awards from our Labs analysts. Believe me when I say these guys are hard to please, and seeing two awards in one week is by far the most positive sign Ive seen of a revived economy. Analyst Tim Dyck awarded Samba 2.2 his top choice for the open softwares ability to be a free alternative to Windows NT Server 4.0 for file and print services. Samba is one of the first examples of open software finally hitting enough revisions to make it a strong corporate contender. Analyst Jason Brooks designated an Analysts Choice award to HandEra 330 for its larger display and higher-resolution alternative to other Palm-based devices.
Add in IBMs well-timed and intelligent purchase of Informix to revitalize database competition and Intels purchase of three optical networking companies, and maybe vendors have returned to a time of sensible acquisitions rather than speculative bets. Maybe it means that at my next dinner, it will be a lot easier to pick those top 10 execs.