The DaveNet Letter
Monday, February 13, 1995 by Dave Winer.
As an experiment -- let's see what a DaveNet version of PC Letter would look like! I did a little reading and phone schmoozing over the weekend. My report follows...
But, sorry, first I gotta tell you that I mostly lounged around at the mountain home this weekend, went for a couple of walks, paid the bills, and tried to ignore the rest of the world. And yes, I got some flame mail on the last essay. More processing! Listened to a new Bonnie Raitt album. That woman definitely has something to say. She reaches deep inside me. What comes up is pretty moving stuff. Bonnie is a great artist!
According to the 2/6/95 issue of David Coursey's PC Letter: "... did I mention the Common Ground viewer is being integrated with Netscape's client software?"
I give up, David, did you?
Could this be true?
This is not worded as a product announcement exactly. It's a question dammit! This is frustrating...
Anyway, for those who don't know -- Common Ground is a print-to-disk utility with a free runtime, available for Macintosh and Windows. It's most often compared to Adobe's Acrobat.
I asked some people who were at Demo (I wasn't) what's going on here? If it's true it's a total coup d'etat for No Hands. But I wonder why there was no press release on the Business Wire?
If anyone has information about this, please let me know.
According to the Wall Street Journal, at its open this morning, General Magic (NASDAQ GMGC) is valued at $600 million. They went public on Friday.
Investors appear to be very enthusiastic about the technology that Magic proposes to supply.
Those investment dollars might be available to other companies with a stake in online technology.
On the other hand, General Magic is more of a force to be reckoned with now that they have deep pockets. They have lasting power, assuming they don't overstaff, and they ship software that's useful for people with popular client systems such as Windows and Macintosh.
Realistically, it's no longer possible to hypothesize that they'll go away anytime soon. With the coffers full and a $21 million yearly burn rate, they can keep the doors open with zero revenue (effectively what they have) for a couple of years.
It's been a while since I saw their client software for Mac and Windows. I hope by now they have Magic Cap windows opening in windows hosted by the client OS. Implementing the Magic Cap desktop in a single window just doesn't cut it. Take a look at the level of integration in Microsoft Network. It's totally integrated into the file system browser.
Magic should also take a look at the America On-Line client. This is what they will be compared against if they show up on desktop systems in the next couple of years. At least that level of integration is a minimum requirement.
An open server platform would help their story a lot too.
And an open developer program.
For background check out the Sony MagicLink board on America On-Line, keyword SONY.
Everyone knows that Netscape is on the road. Gettin ready for their own smashing IPO. The Netscape guys should be watching Magic closely. My gut says they tap into the same river of gold as Magic. But Netscape's story is more complete, even though their revenue picture isn't much more developed. Netscape is already having impact on the world. They are approaching the technology iteratively. Good strategy. I bet GM has a much bigger source code base. But Netscape overwhelms them in terms of numbers of actual users.
Another advantage Netscape has is a technical visionary who seems to have his feet on the ground. A couple of months ago Wired had an interview with Marc Porat, CEO of General Magic. Sounds like he's still in the Kool Aid business! That may have been appropriate when they were a non-public company with no shipping software.
Anyway, I think there is a faceoff here, and that investors probably wish they were investing in Netscape, if they really understood what was going on...
I read the Jim Manzi (CEO of Lotus) interview in the March Upside. It was very interesting.
Both General Magic and Netscape investors should be informed about Lotus Notes.
I didn't know much about their deal with AT&T. I still don't. The interviewer was so focused on trying to get Manzi to admit that Lotus is toast, that Microsoft is going to eat their lunch, that we didn't get a real picture for where Lotus is headed with Notes.
What did come thru, loud and clear, is that Smart Suite is a $600 million business, it's very profitable. They were definitely interested in acquiring WordPerfect. The word processing app drives suite sales, according to Manzi. Notes is not making money, but Manzi is very confident that it's their next cash cow. What comes next? According to Manzi, it's Totes, or Coats or something like that. Cute! (and coy).
He was also a bit ingenuous at one point. He said "We like our position of being operating-system independent. We're the last of the companies who are..." Well, gee, Jim, Notes sort of seems like an operating system. Maybe I'm missing something?
I talked with a friend who's a former Lotusite over the weekend, who says Notes is a new religion for Manzi. As recently as two years ago, apparently he didn't believe that Notes could carry the company. Now it's the only song he sings.
Notes is beginning to show up everywhere. I'm still trying to figure out what the Apple bundling deal with Lotus means for the shape of the online business for the Macintosh. At least it's only for PowerBooks... Or is it? Do they have a deal with Radius? Other clonemakers??? We don't know.
I got a lot of supportive email after yesterday's "Tough Customer" piece. Thanks to everyone! I know that people are interested. The podium is still standing.
I got one more resignation, and it was a personal attack much the same as the first one. I wish people wouldn't do that! I'd much prefer a polite and respectful resignation.
I want to make this clear: personal attacks are definitely not welcome!
Anyway, an observation -- I find that software-writing and writing-writing are very different.
Software is slow. It sometimes take years before an idea is ready to be appreciated by others.
The written word is immediate. Why?
I guess we all have the runtime in ROM!
PS: As always, if you aren't interested in this kind of stuff, send me email and I'll happily delete your name from the list. And it's OK to forward it or repost it anywhere you like. The list is expanding -- I'm always happy to add new names.