Almost Perfect – Pete Peterson

imageBoy, what a trip down memory lane.

It’s amazing to me WordPerfect made it as far as it did. They had no management experience, no structure, no advertising or marketing savvy, and did everything in a shoot from the hip mentality. They were more lucky than good. And for a word processing company they had nothing written down. They had no guidelines, no mission statement, no rules, no business plan, no handbook of any sort. They didn’t write down any notes and had meetings where "Pete" expounded his philosophy because no one knew what the company did.

It has some interesting management philosophy, preferring to keep a flat structure rather than layer upon layer of management.

But it was also interesting to remember all the word processors from back in the day. Word was but a babe, Lotus had Ami Pro, there was Wordstar, AppleWriter and dozens and dozens of little startups. It was the wild west, but WordPerfect became dominate despite all their mistakes.

In the end, their ego, vanity and hatred of Windows got the better of them and their Windows version was crap. I remember using it and Word 2.0 for Windows was insanely better. I loved WP 5.x back in the day, but 6.0 for Windows wouldn’t even run right. It complained about low disk space and font problems. Word simply worked. The rest is history.

It’s also ironic that Microsoft had the same story of being more lucky than good. They screwed up left and right in those early days. They were a half-assed software company that really lacked direction.If you remember, Gates bought DOS, he didn’t write it. They made dozens of blunders along the way, but landed on their feet.

According to WordPerfect, MS was a bad and ruthless company. They would dominate the market and make us all suffer. Well, he may have been right about a couple of things.

Microsoft did make some really good software, but now they have massive layers of management that want to take all the glory and shift all the blame. I can’t say the flat structure of WP was right, but less layers is a good thing.

Anyway, an interesting little biography from the guy running the show. It happens to the best of them. One year you’re making $500 million, the next, nobody knows who the hell you are.

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