Subject: Re: GPL and trademarks and brandnames...
From: (Frank Hecker)
Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 13:10:18 -0500

Bob Young wrote:
> Another book to take a look at is "Built To Last" (I don't recall the
> authors names but its on all the business book best seller lists).
> I'm not sure about all the conclusions the authors reach, but as an
> analysis of the companies who best represent long-term success it has
> a bunch of valuable lessons on both the better product and better
> marketing subjects.

The authors of "Built to Last" are James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras;
for more info about the book see

There's also an article by the same authors that appeared in the
September 1996 issue of the Harvard Business Review:

The article covers all the main themes of the book in 13 pages, and can
be ordered and downloaded online as a PDF file.

For a no-cost summary of most of the ideas in "Built to Last" see

For an even briefer summary read on...

The central thesis of "Built to Last" is that it's possible to build
"enduring great companies" that can stay at the forefront of their
industries for extended periods of time without depending on great ideas
and/or inspirational leaders, _if_ those companies can sustain cultures
that give people good personal reasons to work there.

Collins and Porras identify the following elements of the strong
corporate cultures they found at their model companies, elements to
which employees at those companies all subscribed (to a greater or
lesser degree) and which together formed a coherent vision for each

* A clear "core purpose" for why the company exists, a purpose which is
not confined to what the company's current products and services
actually are.  (In their words, the core purpose expresses "[the]
organization's fundamental reasons for existence beyond just making

* A set of "core values", which need not be conventionally "good" or
"positive" or even meaningful to outsiders, but need only be
consistently held throughout the organization. 

* One or more "big hairy audacious goals" and vivid descriptions of what
it would mean to achieve those goals, through which employees can
envision the company's long-term future.

Whether you agree with everything in the "Built to Last" thesis or not,
it does point to some interesting ways of "conceptualizing" businesses
in a way that's understandable and attractive to customers, investors,
and employees alike.  This is specifically true of their "core purpose"
idea.  For a free software business in particular it's obviously not
going to work to have a purpose like "we exist to sell software"; you're
going to have to find some other purpose that makes sense to everyone
and is flexible enough for you to keep the same purpose if/when you move
in and out of different business models.

As a concrete example, as part of one of my internal spare-time projects
I came up with the following "core purpose" for Netscape: "Netscape
exists to help individuals and organizations harness the full power of
the Internet."  I consciously intended this purpose to be broad enough
to cover not just Netscape's traditional software business but also
things like Netcenter (services) and (free software
development).  (Incidentally, I'm not telling you anything
company-confidential here; over the past few months this purpose has
shown up in various elaborations in Netscape's public marketing
material, executive interviews, and the like.)


P.S. Among other things, this message is an example of versioning in
action: You've got your choice of the $12.80 version with one-day
arrival and a few days to read (the book), the $5.50 version with
10-minute arrival and 30 minutes to read (the HBR article), the free
version(s) with 30-second arrival and 10 minutes to read, and the free
version you've just received and read.  Value for everyone, that's our
motto :-)
Frank Hecker          Pre-sales support, Netscape government sales