Subject: Re: My ears are red
From: Paul Rohr <paul@abisource.com>
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 22:44:48 -0700

At 02:59 PM 6/8/99 +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
>Aside: you will find that economists are not very good at defining how
>to get to "win"; we generally try to describe what you'll see when you 
>reach the mountaintop rather than provide a map to the top.

Darn!  But that map to the top is what matters to me!  :-)  Guess that's why 
I'm not much of an economist.  

My personal belief is that office suites are a perfect test case for FSBs, 
which is why I do what I do.  Huge market, commoditized product, an 
entrenched proprietary monopoly, few credible proprietary alternatives, etc. 
If that's not ambitious, I don't know what is. 

However, the kind of "win" you're interested in requires a bigger investment 
of time and resources than a handful of individuals can provide.  Thus, as a 
businessperson I face choices across the following spectrum:

  Big bang -- convince a deep pockets backer to go for it all in one swell 
  foop, boom or bust.  Plow a few mill into development, even more into 
  marketing, and make a whole heck of a lot of noise. 

  Bootstrap -- pick smaller, more attainable goals along the way to keep 
  moving forward, keeping the risks down while keeping the project alive.  

Funding the first is an all-or-nothing proposition.  Funding the second may 
not be of "economic" interest, but it seems to be a very, very common 
business model for FSBs making their way up the mountain.  

To put it another way -- in my heart, do I *believe* that my chosen market 
can produce a "really big win"?  Absolutely.  Can I prove it'll work?  Not 
entirely.  I do think I can prove how to keep it all working once it gets to 
some (perhaps insufficiently defined) critical mass, but the roadmap to that 
point is much, much fuzzier. 

But hey, I'm an entrepreneur, so I'm quite willing to go forward with what 
I've got.  After all, if the cookie cutter business plan were obvious to 
everyone, I'd have tons of competitors, including business units of various 
leadfooted "real" companies.  

>    Paul> As for your definition of winning in the following markets:
>
>    Paul>   - Windows only (>=1% share)
>    Paul>   - Linux/Windows dual-boot (>=50% share)
>
>I appreciate your analysis of these two; I would have guessed getting
>a dominant share of the dual boot market as easier.

I wish it were.  I hope to prove myself wrong.  It'd make life a *lot* 
easier.  

>For one thing, "software sales" taken
>literally means you (personally) can't do it; I don't see much
>evidence of AbiSource attempting to sell software (looks more like
>you're competing with DKNY on T-shirts ;-).

DKNY, huh?  Does that mean you *like* our shirts?  :-)

Don't worry, we're definitely selling software.  We just figured the sale of 
a 0.7.* product without manuals, support, or a number of key features was 
just a wee bit more palatable with some extras thrown in.  We'll be 
transitioning to more traditional shrink-wrapped boxed sets soon enough.

This is just the first step up the mountain. 

Paul