I’ve written before about the sad fate that befell Novell’s flagship product NetWare. In the list of mistakes and mess-ups made by my former employer I never included the inattentiveness of a CEO. However, I’ve just discovered a sort of mea culpa from our old CEO Eric Schmidt. Mr Schmidt, now CEO of Google, says via a ghostwriter in 2014’s “How Google Works” that “he should have been spending more time on NetWare”.

It’s a startling admission for someone so senior to make. Here’s the full quote from p168, it’s from a section entitled “Spend 80 percent of your time on 80 percent of your revenue” (a piece of advice given to Eric by Bill Gates):

“That shiny new stuff can be much more interesting than the boring old core business stuff, but it’s the core stuff that pays the bills, and if you make a mistake there, you probably won’t be able to recover. Even though Eric thought he was heeding Bill’s advice, in retrospect he should have been spending more time on NetWare. You have to focus on your core business. You have to love it.”


I hope Eric is now “loving” the “core business” at Google a bit more than he was at Novell.


ps – my prediction for NetWare eventually finding a niche didn’t work out too well either. What’s left for NetWare, Open Source?


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