Lotus position: IBM kills the name, but software and founders live on

Electronic spreadsheet created by Kapor and Sachs helped change the world

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Sheldon Laube was not a Lotus Notes founder, developer, creator, or designer, but Ray Ozzie and Larry Moore both credit Laube and Price Waterhouse for Lotus Notes initial acceptance and success. Laube was Price Waterhouse's first CIO, responsible for improving client services through technology. He was the driving force behind standardizing desktop productivity applications on a global basis and solely responsible for the largest software acquisition ever made (at that time). The program was Lotus Notes and Price Waterhouse purchased 10,000 units the day before the official product release. Then, later, Bill Eisner ordered 10,000 copies for the CIA.

Until recently, Laube was the Chief Innovation Officer for the U.S. firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). His team was responsible for inspiring new ideas, reducing barriers that could block the implementation of these ideas, and accelerating these innovations. He continues this work now as a consultant for various large enterprises across the globe.

He left Price Waterhouse in 1995 to become the executive vice president and CTO of Novell where he was responsible for the technological direction of 4,000 plus professionals. In addition, he developed the firm's strategic vision and became the overseer of Novell's R&D labs.

Jim Manzi

Many Lotus players (including Kapor, Ozzie, Moore, and Halvorsen) have commented, in published interviews, that "from an overall Lotus growth perspective, especially as a public company, the most notable leader was Jim Manzi.'' Manzi was president of Lotus from October 1984 to 1995, and CEO from April 1986 until IBM's hostile takeover in 1995. During Manzi's tenure, Lotus 1-2-3 sold 750,000 copies in 1986 (three times its nearest competitor, Microsoft's Multiplan). At one point, Lotus sales represented 17.6% of all software sales in the business world.

"I think my record as CEO at Lotus is well documented already as is my role in leading the company from a desktop software business which faced extreme competitive challenges to a new network-based business at the time that computer networks were just becoming important," says Manzi.

Since 1995, Manzi has had many ventures in the works and been involved (including creation, development, and financing) with many new technology companies. For example; he's been the chairman of StoneGate Capital Group, LLC since 1995; invested in and became chairman of a web and voice conferencing company called Interwise; was appointed to board of directors of Thermo Electron Corporation (2000); then became chairman of the board at Thermo Electron in December 2003. In 2006, Thermo Electron acquired Fisher Scientific and Manzi was chairman of the combined Thermo Fisher Scientific company, a life sciences industry worth $12 billion. He was also named chairman at the following companies: Freshdirect (2011) in New York City; Skyword, Inc., in Boston; and RayV.

In addition, he has served as a consultant, director, or board member for the following companies: Partners Healthcare; Flooz.com; McKinsey & Company; Gather; SOMA Networks; Continental Grain Company; Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston; plus he is as an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a member of the Advisory Committee of Business Breakthrough; and Trustee Emeritus of Colgate University.

"As for IBM dropping Lotus as a brand, this is not something I am going to lose sleep about," says Manzi.

Louis Gerstner

Louis V. Gerstner is another leader in the Lotus/IBM story who has garnered much notoriety and respect from his colleagues for his place and contribution to the success of Lotus Notes. Gerstner was chairman and CEO of IBM from April 1993 until February 2002. He is credited for restoring IBM to its former glory. He laid off thousands, restructured management, reorganized the company's infrastructure, modernized the products (hardware and software), while simultaneously revamping the company's mainframe division. As a result of his efforts, Gertsner grew Lotus products from 2 million users to over 22 million users and re-established Big Blue as a corporate giant.

Before IBM, Gerstner was chairman and CEO of RJR Nabisco (four years). Prior to Nabisco, he spent 11 years at American Express as president of the parent company and chairman and CEO of its largest subsidiary, American Express Travel Related Services Company. During Gerstner's time, American Express membership increased from 8.6 million to 30.7 million.

In 1994, Lou Gerstner co-authored a book titled "Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in America's Public Schools " in line with his "Reinventing Education" program, a partnership with 21 states and school districts. The program uses IBM technology and provides technical assistance to students and faculty throughout these districts to aid and maintain student performance in these areas .

In 2001, Queen Elizabeth II awarded Gerstner the rank and title of Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) for his services to education in the United Kingdom and his contributions to the Internet.

Gerstner was named chairman of The Carlyle Group, in Washington, DC. (a private equity firm) in January 2003 and, in 2008, he received the Legend in Leadership Award from the Yale School of Management. In addition, Gertsner has served as a board of director for many companies such as America-China Forum, American Express Company, AT&T, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., The Broad Center, The Business Council, Caterpillar Inc., Council on Foreign Relations, Daimler Chrysler, Jewel Companies, Melville Corporation, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The New York Times Company, RJR Nabisco Holdings Co., and Sony Corporation.

On May 9, 2013, (during its fourth annual Simon New York City Conference) the Simon School will present the Executive of the Year Award to Lou Gerstner for his landmark contributions in the field of information technologies.

Larry Moore

Larry Moore was another key executive in the Lotus line-up. He was vice president and general manager of the Communications Products Division/Lotus Notes from 1988-1992 and the motivating force behind the release of Lotus Notes, which has generated over $7 billion in sales; that is, about $450 million a year. His colleagues credit his management and marketing expertise for much of Notes initial success. One of his strategies included the creation of the Lotus Notes reseller channel, which had over 6,000 resellers of Notes during its high point. In addition, from 1992 to 1995, Moore managed the IBM/Lotus relationship through its acquisition.

Keeping his Lotus connections alive, Moore and Halvorsen are principals in the Clear Ballot Group, "a company focused on bringing a new class of tools to election officials that lowers the cost while improving the accuracy and transparency of elections in America," says Moore.

On the end of the Lotus name, he says, "Notes was a very special product. Introduced three years before the Internet began to take off and well before broadband, it answered a need that exists today: tools that help people communicate and share information routinely and more efficiently. As to how I feel: a little sad but, in reality, the acquisition was in 1994, so it's probably time," adds Moore.

Alan Lepofsky

Lepofsky worked for IBM/Lotus from 1993-2007. He helped run the Notes/Domino customer council, was part of the product marketing team, worked with the business partner organization, and worked on the strategy team that helped share the future software products. "I made my name within the Lotus community by running the Lotus Notes Hints and Tips blog which I started in January 2005," says Lepofsky.

For three years, Lepofsky was the director of product marketing at Socialtext, one of the pioneering "social business" startups. For the last 18 months, he has been vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, an organization that studies and provides efficiency methods for employees to adopt teamwork strategies to more effectively accomplish job tasks.

On the end of the Lotus name, "I think it' an excellent move and one I was outspoken about for a long time," says Lepofsky. "However, let's not single out the Lotus name; I wanted to see all the Software Group division names gone from public use. The products customers buy from IBM are no longer developed in divisional silos. Lotus, WebSphere, DB2, Rational, Tivoli all these divisions contribute to each other. Customers are not buying from a division, they are buying from IBM."

Sartain is the author of "Data Networks 101" and a freelance journalist. She can be reached at julesds@comcast.net.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

This story, "Lotus position: IBM kills the name, but software and founders live on" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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