by January 12, 1999 0 comments

Akio Morita
“It’s a Sony”–the world’s leading electronics
company started from a small radio repair shop. It was Akio Morita, born in Nagoya, Japan,
in 1921 who’s led Sony Corporation through the past 50 years and built it into a
renowned company. He started his business in 1946 in an abandoned department store with
$375. The multifaceted industrial giant that is Sony today is Morita’s vision at
work.

Andrew S Grove
After Gordon Moore of Moore’s Law fame, Andy Grove is the most
familiar name from Intel. During the dizzy days of Intel’s rapid climb as the leading
microprocessor manufacturer, it was Grove who was at the helm of operations. And Grove
didn’t stick to just microprocessors. During his stewardship, Intel made successful
forays into many areas, including networking and add-on cards.

Bill Gates
Like with Steve Jobs, we had quite a debate on whether Gates fits best
with technologists or with the men who created business empires–the men who went
after the bottom lines. The final answer came from a simple question–what is he
better known as? As the man who wrote Basic or as the richest man in the world?

For long, Gates was seen as the quintess ential nerd,
someone who marched to a different tune. Gates may be marching, or even creating his own
different tune, but nobody misjudges his business acumen anymore. Not only has Gates
become the richest individual by far; he’s also created one of the most capitalized
companies of the world (till recently, Microsoft was no 1, but GE has since overtaken it).
He’s also probably created more millionaires and billionaires than any other.

Jeff Bezos
If you’ve heard of e-commerce, then you’ve heard of
Amazon.com.
And Jeff Bezos is the brains behind Amazon. com. In the process of setting up this
e-business paradigm, Bezos rewrote the rules of the market economy and the capital market.
He had impeccable credentials before he started off with Amazon, and having been in the
investment business himself probably eased the way for him. However, neither pedigree nor
prior experience alone can be held responsible for the impact that Bezos has had not only
on the computing industry, but also on businesses, economies, and economic thought at
large.


Lawrence J Ellison
The other software billionaire (Gates is the obvious first), Larry Ellison
is passionate about everything he gets into–be it databases, hating Microsoft or boat
racing. Forbes recently listed Ellison as the fifth-richest man in the world and the
second-richest “active player in the technology world”. The ultimate self-made
man, Ellison began Oracle Corporation with a $1,200 investment in 1977 and built it into
one of today’s software powerhouses, with interests ranging from databases and
development tools to ERP.

Louis V Gerstner Jr
When IBM was in the doldrums, operating costs were high, and productivity
was low, it was Lou Gerstner who came to the rescue. He took over as chairman and chief
executive officer of IBM on April 1, 1993. Since then, there’s been no looking back,
and big Blue shot right back up into the top ranks. Gerstner Jr’s credited with what
is probably the most successful business revival in history.

Richard Stallman
Richard Stallman is not going to like his name being mentioned amongst
businessmen. Stallman started off the Open Source software development model, where you
don’t charge for software, and instead you give out the source code. He also founded
the GNU (an acronym for “GNUs not Unix”) project in 1984.

Today, the Open Source model and GNU are impacting the
business models of software majors, and more and more are adopting, at least in part the
Open Source way of development. It’s because of this profound impact that Open Source
has had on business, that we decided to call Stallman a businessman, rather than a
technologist.

Scott McNealy
“We’re the dot in .com”, that’s the latest punch line
for Sun Microsystems. In just 17 years since its inception, Sun has become a multi-billion
dollar company ($11 billion in the last fiscal year). This success is attributed to its
co-founder and witty leader–Scott McNealy. The 40-year-old chief executive has led
the company through a range of technical innovations like open architecture, open
interface, Java, etc. McNealy also serves as vice chairman for trade of the Computer
System Policy Project–a consortium of 13 of the largest computer companies in the US.
The consortium addresses public policy issues affecting the industry.

Thomas J Watson Jr
There was a time when computing was synonymous with IBM. Be it the PC or
the mainframe, it was IBM who drove both the technology and the marketplace. But who built
IBM to the super-power that it was? Thomas J Watson Jr–chairman and chief executive
officer of IBM during the company’s most explosive phase (1956-71). It was Watson Jr
who led the company from the age of mechanical tabulators and typewriters into the
computer era. It was Watson, who in spite of believing that the worldwide market for PCs
would be limited to five numbers, still let the product be produced. And the rest as they
say, is history. So, in many ways, we owe Watson for what computing has become today.

William R. Hewlett and David
Packard
You don’t have to be a millionaire to create a huge multi-national
conglomerate. You just need $538 of capital, and a shabby cottage behind your house for
R&D. David Packard and William R. Hewlett–two youngsters fresh from an electrical
engineering course–started one of the most popular companies in the world
today–HP–on January 1, 1939. What a way to start the year! The company’s
name was decided at the toss of a coin. Though the pair started off by creating a radio
oscillator, and later had more innovations up their sleeves, they’re better known as
keen businessmen. This is because with every decade, they expanded their business empire
through acquisitions, joint ventures, and new start-ups. They set foot into microwave
devices in the 40’s. The 50’s saw them entering the plotter business by
acquiring a company called F L Moseley. In the 60’s, they entered the field of
analytical instrumentation by acquiring F&M Scientific Corporation. HP also shone in
medical instruments and operating systems during this decade. The 70’s said good-bye
to slide rules as HP introduced the first calculator. HP entered the PC market in the
80’s. It also introduced its first inkjet and Laserjet printers in this period. And
you thought HP was just a printer company?

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