Subject: Re: Great Bridge closes.
From: "Evan G. Wolenzik" <>
Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2001 09:00:40 -0600 (CST)

I know this is an older topic, but...

Great Bridge was doomed from the start. I briefly did some work for them,
and it was clear that they didn't have a clue. The irony is that their
founder, Frank Batten, jr., was a major investor in Red Hat -- irony
being a) that he should have known better about Great Bridge, and b) that
his own "child", Red Hat, should be the one to pound the final nails in
Great Bridge's coffin.

Batten runs a major newspaper in SE Virginia & bequeathed $25 million to
seed Great Bridge. EXCEPT, he didn't give them a cent -- they had to go
begging to the parent company for each and every check. Further, Great
Bridge had no real autonomy; Batten was constantly rearranging the
management staff (by firing & hiring) and this was clearly bad news from
the get-go.

Most companies have a product & then assemble a team, right? Great Bridge,
on the other hand, put some people together & said, "Let's cash in on Open
Source." They had no real product & no real strategy.

Ultimately, there was no reason for a potential customer to give Great
Bridge any money. Most "blue chips" would continue to buy Oracle, the
proven commercial leader. Those that wanted PostgreSQL could download it
themselves for free. Support was still available from the usual PostgreSQL
sites. What product, then, did Great Bridge have?

Selling convenience only works when you're dealing with "mom & dad" and
Joe Blow consumer. Case in point, retail boxes of Red Hat. Anyone who's at
the PostgreSQL level, however, would surely rather download it than buy a

Finally, what about that stupid name? Think for a minute about all of the
"cool" California tech names that you've heard over the years. Then, here
comes some stuffy East Coast outfit named after a Revolutionary War
battle? As though this is supposed to symbolize Linux vs The
Establishment? The symbolism was lost, I'm sure.

Nor surprisingly, Great Bridge was only open for a year.