By: David Intersimone
Abstract: Listen to the replay of the Monday, December 4th live chat with Ben Smith, CodeGear CEO, and David I
Presented by: David Intersimone and Ben Smith
The inaugural web cast of the CodeGear Community Hour with CodeGear CEO Ben Smith
In November of 2006, Ben Smith was asked by Tod Nielsen, Borland's Chief Executive Officer, to fill the open position of Chief Executive Offer for the CodeGear Business Unit. Mr. Smith is now responsible for providing the leadership, structure and focus for what will be a newly formed and separate business focused on software developers. Mr. Smith, a seasoned technology executive with over 15 years of experience, previously served on the advisory board for Borlands Developer Tools Group (DevCo), prior to it becoming CodeGear. In this role, he worked closely with CodeGears global management team to develop the business model, marketing strategy and product roadmaps that the company is currently executing to develop a growth business. He has also been responsible for advising Borland on the companys corporate development activities over the last 18 months.
Mr. Smith was also an Executive in Residence at Rustic Canyon Partners, an Internet media venture group, where he focused primarily on establishing companies in the new media and next generation software areas. In 2005, he created MerchantCircle (www.merchantcircle.com) with Rustic Canyon Partners. MerchantCircle is an online service dedicated to helping local businesses get more customers quickly, easily and cost effectively. In 2002, Ben co-founded Spoke Software (www.spoke.com) with USVP and a couple of other great entrepreneurs. He remains a member of Spoke Softwares Board.
In his former role as a Vice President at EDS A.T. Kearney management consulting subsidiary, Mr. Smith advised a number of Fortune 500 and emerging technology companies on business and marketing strategies, development and implementation of channel strategies and sales acceleration. He was named one of the 20 most influential global consultants in 2002. While at EDS, Ben led the Venture Development Groups West coast efforts of invest in and partner with upcoming technology companies. After September 11th, he also served the United States government as a senior advisor for strategy and planning to the Secretary of Transportation.
Mr. Smith currently serves on the Board of Directors and on the advisory boards of a number of start-up companies and is an investor in over 20 start-ups.
He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Davis and holds an MBA in Strategy from Carnegie Mellons TepperSchool.
Ben lives in ScottsValley and has two children. In his "spare" time, he loves boating and horseback riding, in addition to being a sports fan -- particularly the Oakland As and the Raiders football team.
jkaster:pglowacki: "Ben, are there any plans of doubling r&d headcount?" - ben: I'm absolutely sure that when we double revenue we'll at least double R&D headcount. We'll continue to grow development resources as finances grow, and point them toward improving the world for developers.
jkaster:aikimark: "Ben, will your sales/marketing approach be more bottom-up (grassroots) or top-down (enterprise)?" - ben: bottom-up. This is about Developers, and last time I checked with my developer friends, they didn't like management telling them what to use. We want to make developers happy, and that will make management happy.
jkaster:bmcgee: "Please put this "no one wanted to buy Delphi" rumour to rest." - ben: You know, that's just crap.
jkaster:aikimark: "Ben, how are you fighting the FUD?" - ben: The most important thing in terms of fighting FUD is delivering great products. You'll see some things in Q1 that should make you more comfortable. We'll also be rolling out marketing for Developers.
jkaster:aolson: "There are a lot of Borland customers who feel this spinoff/divesture of CodeGear is the beginning of the fall of the Borland IDEs. People such as DavidI and Nick Hodges are trying to tell these people that Borland is not in control, not looking over CodeGear's shoulder, and that Codegear is making their own decisions. But, these people simply do not believe it. What can you say to us, your customers, to prove to us that Codegear is viable, on their own, and will succeed?" - ben: Borland's not going to tell us what to do in our products. We're going to make decisions based on hitting our numbers and doing what we need to do in our products. For the things in Q1, there's about only 2 people at Borland who know what we're doing.
jkaster:Michael12: "Ben, CodeGear now looks like virtual institution. Why you still have no website for CodeGear? 3 weeks is anough to build a huge site? It's very frustrating to see this stupid CodeGear:=TCodeGEar.Create; every day! When it will be done and why it's still not online?" - ben: this is all about priorities. We're focused on making products and I'm focused on one in Q1. In my list of top 10 things that keep me up, the website is about 25 on the list.
jkaster:bmoelk: "Has there been a decision made to support dynamic languages within Eclipse or BDS?" - ben: You can't be the "developer company" without looking at the emerging, growing languages. We're certainly going to be in the dynamic language space. We'll embrace Eclipse where that's approrpiate.
jkaster:jthurman: "Do you think that you can convince a significant number of .NET developers to use CodeGear tools rather than Microsoft? How?" - ben: I'm not going to get in the situation where I'm going to say we're going to be better than MS. We'll be different from what MS offers.
jkaster:Serge_D: "what is your perspective for future marketing efforts? What areas you are going to "atack"" - ben: I'm not going to steal a lot of Lisa's (Lisa Romano) thunder on this in terms of what she's going to do. We're certainly not going to be subtle (smiles).
jkaster:pglowacki: "Is CodeGear going to be active in standarization bodies like Web Services org, OMG etc?" - ben: We need to be at the places where developer standards are being set
jkaster:TomYork: "Don't you think you are spreading yourself to thin? We're still waiting for .NET, Win64, Unicode, etc." - ben: You might think we're doing things we shouldn't be doing, but that doesn't mean we're doing too many things. We need to do the things that provide the most value and impact.
jkaster:aikimark: "How can the user groups help you? (and vice versa)" - (broadening this to "community") Ben: I think providing us aggressive feedback. I absolutely love reading things about revealed preferences in blogs. If you have specific ideas, let's get it into the dialog.
jkaster:pglowacki: "are there plans to popularize CodeGear tools in schools, universities?" - ben: With the Turbo products, we'll continue to push adoption of our low-end products. I'm not sure all the innovation is happening in the schools. The web is where a lot of this new innovation is happening. We want to get to that development community on the web.
jkaster:Michael12: "Ben, there is a rumor that Oracle will buy CodeGear at Q1. Any comments?" - ben: That would be inconsistent with what I just said about building the largest independent developer tool company in the world.
jkaster:aikimark: "How will you shorten the lag between .Net version releases and CodeGear implementation?" - ben: I don't know. That's something the engineering team as they grow more agile. We'll pick the places where we can have the biggest impact.
jkaster:Olaf: "Besides the details of the roadmap, do you agree that one of he most important things is trying to hold the existing market? *Before* going for new markets?" - ben: I agree that we have commitments to the existing Delphi development community, specifically as one case. I don't believe you only focus on the existing community. We have to grow our business by bringing the innovation this group has had for the last 20 years to a broader group of developers.
jkaster:doychin: "what will be the startup cash of CodeGear?" - ben: I don't want to get a lot into the financials, other than to say we don't need cash up front.
jkaster:Serge_D: "Ben, with Delphi Magazine disapearing do you see any value in Printed materials or you see value in web exposure?" - ben: I think there's some interesting web companies doing things in printing, like the coffee-table books you can produce from some of the picture web sites. We're working on getting our content spread widely on the web.
jkaster:jthurman: "Will you describe some of the specific significant changes you plan to make from the past? In other words, what are some specific examples of how CodeGear is going to change from "business as usual" at Borland?" - ben: I'm not going to declare ahead of time exactly what we're going to deliver. We are committed ti simplication, innovation, and expansion. What that means for a specific product perspective, look for more information early next year.
jkaster:jthurman: "I think many of us would enjoy a blog from Ben. Can you find the time to do that regularly?" - ben: There are blogs from me on the web. You'll have to dig around a bit to figure out that they're me. I think you'll see a blog from me some time in the first quarter.jkaster:aikimark: "what is Ben's email address? (for suggestions and the like)" - ben: I'm going to let David think about that ... I spend a lot of time on IM, but for now send things to firstname.lastname@example.org and David can forward things on to me.
jkaster:Michael12: "Ben, sorry for emphazing this again... But if website is not in top10 of your task list, can you please tell what is in this list instead?" - ben: Product, product, product, product, sales, sales, sales, simplification, simplification, ...
NickH:aolson: "A large percentage of the Delphi developers i talk to re: CodeGear are convinced that the IDE line is dead. They are convinced that everything Ben and others are stating is simply PR. They are convinced that Borland is holding CodeGear's hand and controlling 100% of what you do. What can you say in defense?" - Not sure what to say here. We are a standalone company that is making all our own decisions. I'm not sure that there is anything we can say if a developer believes as you describe. I guess ultimately the proof is in the pudding.
davidi:TomYork: "Ben not trying to knock you. But the lack of information to developers is really hurting CG. Is January when CG will be releasing some information that we developers can potentially sell our customers?" - This chat is an example of additional information. The CodeGear web site will be live long before January. The roadmaps will be updated, and we are here working for you. You're right that we need to provide more information and we will.
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