Eric Armstrong


Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 13:55:37 -0700

From:   Eric Armstrong


Subject:   Species survival & open source funding etc.

Thanks for all that the thought that went into that. I followed my vision once before, when I quit my job and started an Outliner company. Paid my own salary for two years. Cashed in everything I had of value, borrowed from every agency or friend who would loan me anything, and wound up $19,000 in debt -- much of it to the IRS, who came and emptied my bank account for me.

I wound up with a really thorough, though extremely expensive education in how *not* to sustain an activity. Things I learned:

The technology we wrote 15 years ago may not have been as advanced as Augment, but it is just as dead. Other than what I learned in the process, there is nothing to show for the time spent on the project.

That experience led to a long period of personal inspection, growth, and recovery. There was no one to blame for what happened. The failure was my own. I had to come to grips with exactly why I failed, and how. I had underestimated my weaknesses, and hadn't utilized my strengths. I thought I would be able to manage people and run a business, when the fact of the matter is that I am a designer and communicator, not a manager. I thought that if we had a great technology, people would want it -- not realizing that what people want is *solutions*, not technologies. And I learned that if you can't condense the message into a tight like package that makes people *want* it, you can't pry money out of customers, and you can't pull it out of investors, either.

It's taken quite a bit of time before I was ready to consider trying again. This time around, I plan to avoid the majority of those mistakes. (I plan to make a whole bunch of new ones...) With any luck, this time around the mistakes won't be fatal...


Eric Armstrong