HOME › Forums › Ken Williams Questions and answers / Thanks Forum › So Ken, anymore news on this “meeting” with Sierra’s CEO in April? › Reply To: So Ken, anymore news on this “meeting” with Sierra’s CEO in April?
(re: So Ken, anymore news on this “meeting” with Sierra’s CEO in April?) Nate:
Good question. The Sierra meeting appears to be dead. It’s a long story, and it’s mostly my fault, but there’s plenty of guilt to go around.
As you know (from my messages on this board), I contacted them several months ago. A meeting was tentatively set up between myself and their CEO in Los Angeles on April 14th. That was months ago.
I set up the meeting via one of my old employees, one of the few who is still there, an incredibly gifted person, who runs their european operations. I never spoke with the current CEO. They wanted me to fly immediately to New York to meet with them, which I refused – which is how it came to be that we set the meeting for April 14th in LA — because that is when I would be in the area.
When they asked if I could meet in New York, and our meeting was postponed for months, I asked if it would be possible to start working immediately, via email, phone calls, and fax. I have never been a fan of face-to-face meetings. At Sierra, I had a bizarre system for meetings. I met with my team VERY early in the morning, before the workday began, once per week. I didn’t want to lose any “work time” to meetings. I’m all about efficiency. If there’s a more efficient way to do something, that’s the system I like. Also, I hate riding on airplanes. The idea of flying to New York for a meeting, just didn’t sound like fun. And, lastly, this is the 21st century. Telephones exist. Email exists. Fax machines exist. Use them. I was ready to start that day. Waiting three months to get started seemed like a strange idea to me — but, I agreed.
During the intervening three months I heard zip. Nada. Nothing. Rien. Zero. Then, my schedule changed. A few days ago, I let them know that I had to return to Seattle early, and wouldn’t be in LA as I had thought on April 14th. Once again, I spoke through an intermediary. No direct contact with their CEO. I offered an immediate conference call. My intermediary responded “maybe”.
Given their clear lack of excitement about talking to me, I sent the following email:
Pass this along to Bruce Hack (VUGames CEO) if you think it is relevant…
I have a website that I operate personally (www.sierragamers.com). It has thousands of messages, many of which are me sharing my thoughts on the computer game market. Some of the comments are on Sierra and some are on the industry as a whole. Some are interesting, some are not.
Mr. Hack could hang out with me for the next 10 years, and not learn as much about what I think, and what Sierra customers think, as he would by simply reading through the website. To some extent, meeting me is more time consuming, and less efficient than reading through the site. I tend to say the same things over and over and over and over. I don’t have a lot of opinions, but the ones I do have I am highly opinionated about.
To the extent he does read through the site, a fun place to start would be for him to write me, and tell me “Ken, you are full of crap, and here’s why.” Or, “Ken, your opinions are completely obsolete in today’s market, and here’s why.” I would then respond in self defense, and a discourse would ensue which would hopefully result in something better than he or I could have arrived at alone. Customers would win the debate… which is of course the right answer.
PS Here’s a couple of fun postings to start the conversation going. He will need to register on the site before these links will work. Once he is on the message boards, he can click on my name on any message board to see everything I’ve ever posted….
This was sent several days ago. To my knowledge (and, I check these things), neither he, nor anyone else senior in his organization, has ever been to the website.
I WOULD like to help Sierra. I feel bad that this offer of help doesn’t include a willingness to jump airplanes and fly to meetings. The bottom line is that I was never really about money. Don’t get me wrong. I like money as much as anyone — but, I haven’t asked Sierra for a dime, and don’t want a dime from them. My offer of help is not financially motivated. My sole interest is that I think I can help them make better games, and make customers happy. I like games, and I like customers. If I can help, I would like to do so. That said, I can’t do it alone, and I don’t want a full-time job at this point in my life.
If their current head hauncho doesn’t value my input highly enough to call me within the three months after I’ve offered to help, then the reason is that he doesn’t perceive that I can add value. If he doesn’t believe I can add value before he hears what I have to say, I doubt his willingness to listen is going to rise after I speak.
When I last worked for Sierra, we had roughly 700 developers, and 300 “other” employees, most of whom were customer support, sales or manufacturing. Product was king at Sierra. I was willing to outsource anything except customer satisfaction. My guess is that Sierra has fewer employees in product development today, than I had in accounting (a very small overworked department). You have to have priorities. When the accountants outnumber the developers, it isn’t good. When you can’t talk to someone for three months without having a meeting, it’s not a good sign.
All that said… I have never spoken with anyone in senior management at Sierra as it exists today. They may have two million developers for all I know. Mr. Hack may be someone who I would respect tremendously and who is well on track to build Sierra (and VUGames) into the next Microsoft (except bigger). I may be back posting on this bulletin board tomorrow raving about their product strategy. I honestly haven’t the vaguest idea what is happening at Sierra or VUGames.
What worries me, and what keeps me awake at night, is this deep rooted fear, that the company Roberta and I worked so hard to create, over an 18 year period, simply doesn’t exist anymore. Hopefully, I’m wrong.