This chapter provides a glimpse of how a number of actual
high-information-technology ventures have formed. The Bell-Mason Diagnostic
is used, after the fact, to assess the health of several of these companies
at various points in their growth.
The first two examples come from software start-ups of the early 1980s:
Ovation: a now-bankrupt software firm that conducted an aggressive
sales and marketing effort but was unable to produce a product.
Analytica: a decision-support software company that had a good
product but conducted a poor marketing effort.
The next six examples involve firms that appear to be healthy and whose products
are representative of the types of products that a start-up might be founded
Dragon Systems: a manufacturer of speech-recognition systems
that used product sales to fund the development of its technology and its
understanding of the market as computers with sufficient processing power
for speech recognition evolved. Dragon's story provides an example of how
a company can start up in a self-funding fashion and evolve slowly with and
develop a very complex technology.
Cirrus Logic: a $100 million, public "semicomputer
company"1 in Silicon Valley that builds complex
chips for the PC industry.
1 A semicomputer company is a firm that supplies microprocessors or
microprocessor peripherals in the form of semiconductors.