Trivial Pursuits

Staying with the subject of Lotus Development (an IBM company), can anyone else remember who almost bought them once upon a time, back in the Jurassic period of IT history?

Before IBM stepped-in to gobble-up Notes at the beginning of the Internet era (Lotus had overstretched itself against Microsoft), AT&T was a front-running candidate and I have my inaugural Sky News clip to prove it.

The earlier possibility at the end of the eighties, was Novell (remember them too?). I recall attending the party in Boston to celebrate the engagement between Novell's Ray Noorda and Lotus' Jim Manzi but the wedding was abruptly cancelled at the 11th hour. Whether this had anything to do with Novell's strong Mormon influence is anyone's guess and to be honest, I'm getting too old to remember.

I have one memory at about the same time, of sharing a Boston cab with a young man called Ray Ozzie, who, I think, had been attempting to convince the Lotus management team that his Notes product had a great future but they couldn't grasp its potential... that year anyway.

I ended up representing Ray's company Iris Associates in the UK (another story) and today he's running Groove Networks doing revolutionary work in the P2P / collaborative networking space.

The last time I wrote anything about Ray was in my Lotus eBusiness Magazine, (December 1997) when I had him leaving Lotus to start Rhythmix Corporation, a product development company, at the time when (Network Computers) NCs and Java Applets were hailed as "The next big thing", in the shape of Lotus eSuite or Corel's JavaSuite (another blast from the past), which everyone at the time seriously believed might unseat Microsoft's dominance of those big, expensive and clunky PC things on the desktop.

It's sad, from my point of view at least that a good ten years of my own magazine publications, Lotus eBusiness, Microsoft BackOffice Magazine and JavaVision pre-dated the opportunity to publish them on the Web. This means that over fifteen years of comment and analysis on the development of the industry since 1985, is lost and what little remains, is scattered in files around my attic.

Ray Ozzie

As a footnote I should mention that I own Novell shares, by accident rather than design as Novell happened to buy Silverstream Software, for very little and I'm an unlucky ex-shareholder of Silverstream Stock at $35. Somehow I would be surprised if Novell gets back to such dizzy heights.


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