Here’s some fun… I mentioned earlier on this thread that I contacted Sierra a few years back, to see if I could help, and they never took me up on it. I said I would post the old emails if I found them. I FOUND THEM!
Here’s one from 2001: (sent to a gentleman in France who was CEO of Vivendi Software at the time)
From: Ken Williams [
Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2001 2:35 PM
I founded Sierra and ran it for 18 years, including 8 as a public company, during which we grew consistently and profitably. I’m happily retired, and doubt that I will ever want to, or need to, work again.
I keep hearing mixed reports on how Sierra is doing, and just heard that Greno is leaving the company. My only interest in contacting you is to see if there is anything I can do to help (which I doubt). If you ever want someone to bounce ideas with about Sierra, or to have someone who can play devils advocate in setting product strategy, call me. I’m not looking for compensation. My only interest or goal is that I would like to see Sierra returned to its former dominance.
I received no response, so I tried again in 2004, with the next regieme: (this was sent to a senior VP who had worked for me at Sierra, and who passed it on to Vivendi’s CEO — who never called returned a call)
It was very good to speak with you. Please accept my deepest apologies for having disappeared for so long. After nearly 20 years of building games, I had burnt out on the industry and made a decision to focus my attentions elsewhere. Also, I knew that the new owners would have a different vision than I for the future of the games business, and that to watch what they were doing would be very frustrating. It would be like watching someone else raise your child, something which would be impossible for me. It was better to not think about it. As I mentioned, I have not purchased a computer, or video game, of any sort during the last seven years, nor kept up with the industry in any way. 99% of my life has been focused on golf, and on a small non-game programming project I’ve been doing (more of a hobby than a product – I just wanted to keep my technical skills up to date).
Here’s why I called:
Sierra, during my 17 year tenure, grew 25-50% per year, every year, and consistently turned in 15-30% pretax earnings. We consistently had titles in the top 10, and dominated the retail shelves. Recently, I was sent a press clipping by someone talking about poor financial performance at VU Games, and that people at Blizzard were leaving. I have no idea how true any of this is, but can sense, even without monitoring the industry, that Sierra (and Blizzard) have less momentum today than when I left the company.
I would like to help, if I can. I am not seeking, nor would I accept, a job. I am not seeking a way to make money. I have money. What I am seeking is two things: 1) Retirement gets old after a while. I’d welcome some intellectual stimulation. And, 2) I have nearly 20 years of my life wrapped up in Sierra. Standing by and letting it die without offering to help isn’t my style.
The question is ‘what could I do?’ If VU Games were a public company, I would ask to join its board. I do not see myself in any kind of operating role. I have no interest in living in Los Angeles and going to work everyday. One idea I’ve had is that I could be a ‘person to talk to’ for whoever is the CEO of the games business. We could try talking once per month via phone, just to discuss strategies. That person would be free to ignore me or listen, or even hang up. Perhaps nothing would come of it, or perhaps I would be able to kick in some decent ideas. Alternately, or, additionally, I might be able to play a role with the development teams and in forming product strategy. I have a good eye for when a product is in trouble. I also have a good mind for how to get a development project back on track. I’ve managed over one thousand software development projects, and a strong track record of bringing hits to the market. I have some specific ideas on how I could be effective in this area.
My contact information is:
US Cell phone (which finds me anywhere) +1-206-xxx-xxxx