If the tone of this paper so far has been to scare you away from this venture and to repetitively drum all the potential risks involved in joining such an operation, that's exactly what I intended. I've tried to lay out the whole operation complete with all the potential problems as straight as I can. So why would anybody in his right mind get involved in such a nutty venture?
The reason is very simple: there's a reasonable chance of making money beyond the wildest dream of an employee in this industry. Products like Wordstar are selling in the $10-20 million per year range today. Bear in mind--this is a product that any of us could write in about two months. We should consider ourselves extremely lucky to be in this business at this time in history. It's a rare piece of luck to have the field you've chosen as your career explode into the hottest growing entrepreneurial arena just as you hit your prime, and we're now at the point that if we want a chance to get involved we have to act immediately. The game has changed and the pace is accelerating very rapidly. The venture capital that remade the micro hardware business 2 years ago is just now beginning to move into the software business: within the last 3 months, Digital Research, Microsoft, Micro-Pro, and Lifeboat have received infusions of venture capital in the $1-10 million range. This business is getting very big and very professional, and within one year the chances of success of a tiny, heavily technically oriented company will be nil. If we move now, if we move fast, and if we react extremely rapidly and work ourselves to the bone, we can grab a chunk of this business before it slips away. We have to pursue our contacts at Lifeboat because that's an open door far too priceless to ignore, and we have to have a credible organization to open that door to further work.
If we sit back and say, ``Well, I'll see how well the IBM makes out'', or ``Maybe after I pay off my car'', or whatever, we'll lose a chance that won't come by again in our lifetimes. I think that with what we've learned from Marinchip and from the industry, that with the marketing contacts we have, with the product ideas we're kicking around, and with the competence of the people we know, we have a real enough chance to make it that it's worth betting everything on. But we have to have real commitment, real performance, real responsibility, and real professionalism to make it. If you're interested in making that kind of commitment, I can't guarantee that we'll succeed, but I can guarantee that together we'll have a once in a lifetime experience as we try.
What it all comes down to is the following questions, which only you can answer for yourself.
Do I really want to be in business for myself?I think that this is it.
Do I want to work with these people?
Will I enjoy it if I participate in this?
Am I likely to find a better opportunity elsewhere?
Am I likely to find a better opportunity later on?
Can I manage the risk, and does the potential reward justify it?
Editor: John Walker