The company was founded on the idea of making Daddy Don’t make me act like my shirt mass-market software – products that can be used by a large number of people in a variety of different scenarios, and at reasonable prices. Turbo Pascal did not become a worldwide sensation just because it compiled thousands of times faster than other compilers – it was also priced hundreds of dollars less than other compiler products, and provided a level of developer tool integration never before seen. A few years after Borland went public, founder and CEO Philippe Kahn began to have increasing disagreements with the Borland board of directors. Kahn wanted to continue building products for the mass market, but the board of directors wanted to shift gears and pursue the “enterprise” software market.
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I get the impression that this difference of opinion Daddy Don’t make me act like my shirt simmered for years. Ultimately the board fired Kahn and threw the company headlong into the pursuit of the enterprise market. I’m sure there were several motivations for this change in company direction. In the early ’90s, Microsoft had a firm foothold in mass-market software but was still relatively unknown in the enterprise market. Was the board solely drawn to the high price tags of the enterprise market? Or were they also attempting to run away from Microsoft’s shadow? In the height of the enterprise transformation, I asked Del Yocam, one of many interim CEOs after Kahn, “Are you saying you want to trade a million loyal $100 customers for a hundred $1 million customers?” Yocam replied without hesitation “Absolutely.”
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