(re: The downside of Sierra?) “I’m curious as to what the downside of running Sierra On-Line was? “
The paperwork never bothered me. It’s not that bad. When you’re small, there isn’t that much, and when you get big, there are people (accountants and lawyers) who do everything for you.
Personally, the part I hated the most was dealing with employees. 99.9% of employees are awesome, 99.9% of the time – but there are always exceptions. People who don’t come to work with the right attitude drive me up the walls.
I don’t want to get into specifics, because it wouldn’t be appropriate, but I’ve been through major trauma dealing with employees.
Examples of things that weren’t that fun:
Union organizing. (The Machinists union wanted to organize our entire staff)
Sexual Harrassment lawsuits – some justified, some that weren’t. Our company had perhaps 50-100 people in a supervisory or management capacity. No matter how well you train them, bad things seem to occasionally happen.
Employees who were unskilled, that were hired well above what they had ever made previously, promoted, paid more – and, then file suit against you for back overtime pay.
Employees who are grumpy, non-competitive and seem to hate you no matter what you do.
Having to fire people who you genuinely like, but who can’t handle their jobs. Especially those with a family.
Not being able to fire people (for litigation risk reasons) who aren’t doing their job, or managers, who don’t understand the need to “prune” the workforce regularly, and government bureaucrats who disagree with the entire concept.
Employees who don’t understand how hard it is to make money. There are people who don’t seem to get it that running a company profitably isn’t easy.
Actually, I wish you hadn’t asked this question. There is no way I can answer it without sounding like a villain. The honest truth is that it can be tough dealing with employees under todays labor laws. I’m not saying that there haven’t been times when employees were mistreated by their employers. Today’s laws exist because of past, and recurring, abuses. I understand why the laws are in place, and that they are a necessary evil.
Generally it wasn’t the laws that bothered me most – it was employees who were “just putting in time”. My goal was to assemble an army of the worlds greatest developers, to build the worlds greatest games. Anyone who didn’t share that vision dragged down the whole effort. Customers can tell when they play a game if the team building it really cared about the game or not. One person who does mediocre work, or who isn’t giving the project their all, can ruin the entire effort. Even in customer support – one person who isn’t as friendly as they should be, could bury the whole company. My commitment was always to the thousands of people who would work for Sierra in the future, and to the millions of customers – not to any one employee.
Once again, let me state: these are the exceptions, not the rule. Most employees are wonderful people, who work HARD for the company, and are team players. I just wish it were unanimous. Headaches dealing with people, are for me, probably a bigger reason why I never want to work again, than because I am enjoying retirement.