I was reading this post on Quora, “Why did Borland fail” again today and re-thinking the whole Borland Business. The post rightly asserts that Borland failed because they tried to appeal to the “Enterprise” market instead of sticking with the successful market that they were catering to at the time (late 1990s, early 2000s).
The company was founded on the idea of making mass-market software – products that can be used by a large number of people in a variety of different scenarios, and at reasonable prices.
In the height of the enterprise transformation, I asked Del Yocam, one of many interim CEOs after Kahn, “Are you saying you want to trade a million loyal $100 customers for a hundred $1 million customers?” Yocam replied without hesitation “Absolutely.”
I agree, because I was there at the time and I was one of Borland’s customers. I was using Borland’s Turbo C Compiler in the early 1990s and then, when I got into Java a bit later, I used Borland JBuilder. Yes, I was a big Borland fanboi. I loved Borland products, they were reasonably priced, well-written, and accessible. And then Borland fucked up.
The executive team decided to take a talented development team with lots of experience building innovative consumer products and retask them to build enterprise software.
From my perspective, they blew me out. I was paying a reasonable and acceptable price for a very nice product (JBuilder) and overnight I was no longer a developer that they wanted. They wanted to cater to big companies who had $$$ to waste on bloated “Enterprise” subscription models. I could no longer afford to continue with their products, nor did I want to since the smell of phoney corporate bullshit became too strong.
I’m not sure if it was around 2002 or 2003 that I discovered Eclipse. What I do remember was that it was (a) free, (b) open source, and (c) intriguing. The Eclipse IDE at that time had a quite basic feature set, at least compared with JBuilder, but I felt that it had potential and, more importantly, I felt welcome. I was no longer a JBuilder customer.
Borland had, at that time, a newsgroup of which I was a member. I wrote a message on the newsgroup, asking what people thought about Eclipse and whether Borland saw this as a threat. A Borland employee replied to the effect that no, they didn’t see Eclipse as a threat, and dismissed my idea and Eclipse itself disparagingly.
Borland are now dead.
What has this got to do with Archi?
Quite simply, I hate corporate bullshit and bloated software that purports to implement open standards and that is not open itself.
Overpriced “enterprise” software that can only be accessed from behind a paywall may as well not exist.
This is my own personal driver, I guess – to produce open, elegant, non bloated software that users want and can use. No phoney “sign up here for our white paper” lies, no press-ganging into expensive subscription models, no vendor lock-in, no crappy proprietary data formats (why do you think The Cartel so vehemently oppose the ArchiMate Exchange Format?). Just open, accessible software. I like to believe that Archi is on the way to fulfilling that goal. It’s still relatively early days but, with an average of 1,000 downloads of Archi every week, I think we’re getting there.
I look forward to the day when this bogus “enterprise” software model goes the way of
the dinosaur Borland.