Early adopter, entrepreneur, leader interested in software, the Internet, mobile telephony and computing, and VoIP. Founder or senior management with The Personal Bee, Orb Networks, CallTrex, Borland (BORL), The Dr. Spock Company, Neta4, WhoWhere?, CMP Media, and IT Solutions.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

2005 SDForum Visionary Awards

As some may recall, I posted an entry last year after attending the 2004 SDForum Visionary Awards. Last year I was very impressed with the event, the awardees, and the speeches.

Last night I attended the 2005 version of this annual event which was again hosted by Heidi Roizen at her Atherton home. While the party was just as nice, and the hostess just as gracious, I have to say that I was dissapointed by the awardees and by their speeches.

Last year awards were given to four individuals who truly oversaw the creation of each of their respective companies. John Chambers of Cisco, Craig Barret of Intel, Scott Cook of Intuit and even Marc Benioff of Salesforce are all amazing entrepreneurs well deserving of the SDForum Visionary award.

While this year's honorees were all interesting valley players, only Carol Bartz of Autodesk could really claim to have built her company and even Carol joined Autodesk after it was a public company and already had $285 million in revenue. On an inflation adjusted basis that is almost $400 million in today's dollars. With $1.2 billion in revenue this year, that means that Carol merely tripled her company's revenue in 13 years. Nothing compared to the growth of Cisco, Intel, and Intuit.

And the other winners? Bill Draper (a venture capitalist), Carly Fiorina, and Ray Ozzie. Of these three, perhaps you could say that Ray Ozzie is deserving of the award -- certainly he is a visionary, although of a technology rather than entrepreneurial variety.

But the more dissapointing aspect of this year's awards was the speeched themselves. Sure, it was funny to hear Scott McNeally's story about firing Sun's VP of Marketing just to keep Carol Bartz from quitting. It was hilarious to have the very carefully worded introduction of Carly Fiorina by legal eagle Larry Sonsini. But nowhere this year did we hear the rousing call to action from the Silicon Valley community to be bigger than ourselves -- to focus on the world's problems not just on our techology and profits.

I left last year's event feeling inspired and wanting to do more for my country and my fellow man. I left this year's event feeling full of good food and interesting ideas -- but far from inspired.

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