Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"I Can See Clearly Now..."

Many years ago, early in my career, I worked at software powerhouse, Symantec. As they recently announced their intent to acquire Clearwell, I thought I would pass along my insider’s 2 cents on the topic. I became a "Symantian" in 1996 after they acquired a smaller company with a very hot product in a growing market. At the time the company was called Delrina and they made WinFax. You likely had a copy at some point. It was the innovator in using modems to send faxes and make VOIP calls. (I worked on the telephony end - the cooler part!)

In retrospect, the CW deal sounds very similar to the Delrina one and a good example of how Symantec operates. They bought Delrina at the height of its popularity, paying top dollar. Then they decimated the division, laying off more than half the workforce. (I was not laid off, but asked instead to become GM of a division.) They basically never put another dime into development, QA or marketing and rode the product's margins all the way into the sunset until it was obsolete. I suspect they made a fortune as there were few costs beyond the initial acquisition. They picked up the entire user base and locked out all competition. Within 3 years WinFax as a product was gone and it was completely embedded with other Symantec suite products.

Within 12 months, no one will be charging $300/GB to cull with Clearwell. Every client will have it embedded in their enterprise suite and simply perform the culling themselves. 3rd party vendors beware. The Clearwell party is over and the Relativity party is next.