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FeaturesMain »» Interviews
|Interview with KMOS CEO Garry Hare (25-Mar-2004) |
(Read 38222 times)
|Amigaworld.net has obtained a lengthy interview with KMOS CEO Garry Hare.|
By way of introducing him to the wider Amiga community and to clear up some persistant long term queries. Garry has kindly offered to answer these questions and more below.
Garry Hare: Personal and Company questions
Question 1.1: You have a number of university degrees; a Bachelor of Science, a Master of Science and a Ph.D,. These are impressive credentials and very unusual in the business world where MBAs are commonplace, but little else, could you make a comment on your intellectual development and what led you first into the entertainment industry and then into digital media?
Garry: I worked at The Walt Disney Company before stumbling into academia. My interest in media preceded these degrees. While at Disney I got my masters in the evening due to a side interest I'd developed. I wanted to get into the feature film side of the Company and several times a year I'd ask to be transferred, with the support of my boss and the head of the studio. Each time my request would be denied by the then president of Disney. I was in a four person division that generated more revenue than any division aside from theme parks. His reason was, I was "to valuable" to move. This was a little hard to believe as I wasn't particularly well paid. One day my boss, who was a great guy, took me to lunch and said, "look, I'm an Executive Vice President of this Company, and I do exactly the same thing you do. As long as you are successful, you'll never get moved to where you want to be". Shortly after, I resigned.
Due to some other things I was involved in, USC offered me a scholarship to pursue a doctorate. I studied with Neely Gardner. His expertise was Political and Corporate Strategy, his passion was ethics. I know it sounds like a strange mix in today's business world but Neely made sense of it. He is (was) the most remarkable person I've ever met. He had the greatest impact on my life. What I remember the most is he was totally honest, sometimes brutally so. No one ever asked for feedback from Neely. The one downside, there is no way I can live up to his legacy.
During my seven years in academia I had a hard time writing articles for academic journals. I didn't think anyone would read them and, to be honest, I didn't have much to say. Instead, to the dismay of my colleagues, I wrote and produced a couple films aimed at illustrating specific concepts. In a way, I never left media.
Question 1.2: Besides your formal degrees, you also held the posts of Visiting Professor at the Harvard Business School in Nicaragua and Associate Professor at the University of Washington, then became advisor for Fortune 100 corporations on Latin American investments before returning to the entertainment industry, is there a connection or were you just bored?
Garry: I was at the University of Washington during the "golden years" of being a professor. My full teaching load was four courses over three quarters. Two quarters a year I was responsible for one two-hour class per week. I think the balance of the time was meant for research and thinking great thoughts. I went skiing. Upon Spring thaw, I turned my attention to consulting. I liked it, it was extraordinarily lucrative and, in some cases, I was pretty good at it.
The lucrative part created a problem. My consulting income quickly exceeded my university salary. Some people didn't care for that and the Dean created a new policy where outside income couldn't exceed 20% of faculty compensation. I resigned, yet agreed to stay on for nine months. By this time I had my own program and graduate students. If I'd left sooner, there was no one to teach the courses they needed to complete a specialization.
I moved to Northern California where I live today. I didn't have a job or any particular idea of what I might like to do. Consulting income gave me some flexibility and ultimately I began to tell people I produced computer controlled movies. At the time no one had any idea what that meant. Including me. I'm not certain, but I probably printed some fake business cards.
The president of LucasFilm asked me, and my partner at the time, to come in to the games group and see if we could "produce" a couple titles. We probably were among the first games producers. I also have a design credit on "Ballblazer". That's a bit of an exaggeration. I can point to a couple features within the title that were my idea but the developer and programmer, David Levine, should rightly get credit. For "Rescue On Fractalis", Charlie Kelner (among the smartest software guys I've met) is responsible for just about everything you see on the screen. I was never an employee of the Lucas organization.
I liked interactive media and it provided a framework for some of the other stuff I've been involved in.
Question 1.3: More seriously, from games and entertainment enterprises you moved to Phillips Media Europe as CEO, then broadband media. A pattern is emerging where Amiga naturally finds a place. Can you comment on the connections this background may have had with an interest in Amiga's Operating System?
Garry: To be honest, I hadn't thought to much about the importance of operating systems. I knew, at least in the mobile world, that many manufacturers were critical of the operating systems available. KMOS, before it had a name, was (and is) involved with a potential strategic partner interested in a very specific market. Part of the solution seemed to suggest an alternative to the operating systems currently used. Amiga's OS family of products looked like they could fit. I turned my attention, with the help of people much smarter than I, to a competitive analysis of the known OSes. I wasn't so interested in what they are but in what they could be. Amiga's OS looked good.
Question 1.4: What is a KMOS, where did the name come from, what does it mean?
Garry: Good question. I asked it myself. Corporate documents needed to be filed while I was in Asia. I returned home to find that the Company, that I had agreed to build, was named KMOS. Like many of you, I asked what's a KMOS, what does it mean? I was told it is sort of like Xerox, it doesn't mean anything but with use will become a positive brand. I pointed out that Edsel (an old auto brand) also didn't mean anything and it went bankrupt. I hated the name. I lost.
I learned two things from this. Don't travel before the documents are filed and don't let financial guys name companies. ( If any of them are reading this, I'm just kidding, really).
Given recent events the company probably should have been named KAOS, but that name is taken.
Question 1.5: To quote: "KMOS, Inc. acquired the Operating System from Amiga, Inc. to bring full cross-platform, multimedia functionality to wired and wireless devices." Is there anything you would like to add to this short description?
Garry: Not much. The smart money is probably on the phrase, "cross-platform". But you already knew that.
Question 1.6: How long have you been CEO of KMOS Incorporated?
Garry: Since its inception.
Question 1.7: Was there a previous CEO of KMOS?
Question 1.8: Is KMOS Incorporated a publicly listed company or privately funded one?
Garry: KMOS is privately held.
Question 1.9: Do you have a significant stake in the company yourself, besides that of your position as CEO?
Garry: I have a minority stake in KMOS, which is unrelated to any operating role. I'd like a raise.
Question 1.10: Are Bill McEwen, Fleecy Moss, or Amiga Inc. employees of, or shareholders in, KMOS?
Question 1.11: KMOS has kept a low profile since its inception; is there a specific reason for this, and why has it now made itself prominent?
Garry: KMOS' strategy (which we hope makes sense) requires me to acquire or develop several pieces of a technical puzzle. Amiga's OS is an important part, but it is only one part. It is much easier to go about this quietly. If I told you I really, really wanted to buy your car, the price has a tendency to go up. I wanted to avoid that.
As an aside, part of my job is to develop and maintain strong relationships with appropriate writers and publications. I try and reserve this relationship for major announcements; product introductions, perhaps new strategic partners and very few other topics. As none of these things are ready for announcement, I had no intention of saying anything at this time. But the situation turned a little different.
In my view some wild and reckless claims were publicly being made regarding the ownership, control and right of use of our intellectual property. When it comes to protecting IP [Intellectual Property] you have two choices. If, for example, a company was selling a product based on IP without benefit of a signed distribution agreement, you can just sit back a while and let them sell it. A little later in the process you might want to contact them and say, "hey, I think you owe me a little money".
If threats concerning IP are causing a disturbance among commercial partners or, at least as importantly, among current and future application developers you have no choice but to publicly act. We saw Genesi's Motion to Amend as just such a threat. I issued a brief press release to publications of record. I understand it got very little play on public boards but that wasn't its intent. I was simply saying that KMOS is in this game and implying that we would broadly defend and protect our assets and intellectual property. In matters like web sites, developer support programs and the like, we were totally unprepared to make such an announcement. I apologize, I would have liked to be a little more together.
Question 1.12: Who is Itec and what is their relationship to Amiga, KMOS and you?
Garry: Itec has been an investor in Amiga since the purchase of the assets from Gateway. It remains an investor today. Itec is also the Senior (first place) Secured Creditor of Amiga Inc. KMOS purchased the OS asset from Itec. There is no formal relationship between the companies (KMOS and Itec). I am not involved in Itec in any way.
Garry Hare on: KMOS, Amiga Inc., Past Problems and Rumours
Question 2.1: Does KMOS have any direct stake in Amiga Inc., besides the buying of rights over the Operating System and possibly some trademark agreements?
Garry: KMOS's rights are to the OS and associated naming and trademarks. We can and will, for example, ship the operating system under the Amiga One Partner agreement as "Amiga OS 4.0". Amiga retains ownership to its name, trademarks and DE product.
Question 2.2: Last year a business card appeared with your name and giving your position as CEO of Amiga Inc. did this card originate from you or Amiga Inc.?
Garry: I apologize in advance for the length of my reply. I now know this is an on-going soap opera and I may as well be through.
In November, 2002, I was asked by Itec (an Amiga investor) to give my opinion on Amiga's prospects for strategic partners. I was not asked to do anything in regard to securing investment or risk money. In February, 2003, Bill McEwen asked if I would consider joining Amiga as Chairman and CEO. Ultimately I agreed, contingent on Amiga securing a minimum investment and operating capital (I'm not stupid). As you remember, early 2003 was a particularly difficult environment for raising money. I thought Amiga's chances would improve if I could attract a strategic partner or two. Toward that end, I set up several meetings at the March CTIA conference. I printed 25 business cards with the Amiga logo and my personal contact information.
At CTIA, I met with four companies where I know the senior management quite well and one where I did not. I doubt that I gave each a card as two of the CEOs are close friends and I see or speak with them frequently. They know how to reach me. In every meeting I told people that I was considering joining the Company and proceeded with a business discussion. At this point in my life I don't need a company affiliation to get a meeting.
At this same conference I ran into David Traub (his full name was previously disclosed by Mr. Buck some time ago). I've known David casually for a number of years. In one of those, "so whet are you doing" conversations, I told David I was considering joining Amiga. As any good developer would, he pitched me on a title that would be "just perfect" for the Amiga market. If I remember correctly, it was a horoscope title but I could be wrong. David asked how to reach me, I gave him a card. At the end of this conversation David said he was associated with Bill Buck who had interests in Amiga. I told him I was aware of Mr. Buck's interests.
At about the same time I ran into an old friend who publishes a well known gaming magazine. I mentioned I was thinking of joining Amiga and he asked if he could announce it if I did. I gave him a card and promised to call and send him a press release if and when, I joined. There was no such announcement.
When I returned home David Traub called and asked if I would take a call from Bill Buck. I agreed and the next day Bill Buck called and immediately asked if I was Amiga's CEO and if I could make decisions on behalf of the company. I told him that I hoped to join Amiga but had yet to do so. And, if I did join, I would certainly be able to make decisions. He began to pitch me on a couple business ideas that he felt would be mutually beneficial. I quickly responded that as long as there was litigation between the companies he would have to communicate through legal counsel. It was a short and not unpleasant conversation. At the end he advised me, I thought jokingly, not to join Amiga. As it turns out I didn't but I can't say that was due to his specific advice.
David tells me that a week or so after the call, Mr. Buck contacted him and asked that he send the business card as he wanted to know how to reach me. As an side, David has apologized way to many times for sending the card and any difficulty it may have caused me. He swears he had no idea as to the intended use. David is a good guy and has no reason to apologize. I gave him a card. None of this is his fault.
A short while later I heard that Mr. Buck had posted the card to a public board, and discussed its impact on Amiga generally and several individuals particularly. I was surprised. Mr. Buck is among a very few people that I'd discussed my relationship, or lack thereof, with Amiga. He specifically knew that I had not taken the CEO position. A few people mentioned the discussion around the issue but I ignored the matter. I was busy. I've never posted to a public board and, until several weeks ago, seldom browsed any of them. Only recently did I discover what a moo bunny was.
Several weeks ago, when I turned my attention to the Genesi/Amiga legal dispute, I read and reread every relevant post from every board. While not part of the Motions before the Court and, probably because it was about me, I paid particular attention to the business card drama. The fact that it is still discussed today, often with childish venom, is just plain ridiculous.
About those remaining business cards. My daughter cut one up for an art project. She liked the ball. Under intense interrogation she refuses to confess to ripping off any more. And for some unknown reason I gave one to one of my closest friends. He became aware of this little drama and has threatened to expose me as a "fake" CEO if I don't pay for dinner. Worse, he threatens to expose me a "fake" Chairman if I don't pay for drinks. Last Saturday, I sent him copies of the Court filings and made it clear that I have no intention of paying for a meal again in the greater Los Angeles area. Including drinks.
I found the box. There are 16 business cards left (see special offer below). A few are unaccounted for. I may have used them to "paper" Silicon Valley. Maybe not.
The bottom line. I printed 25 business cards and distributed 9. I never misrepresented myself to anyone, at any time, in any way. Mr. Buck knew I wasn't Amiga's CEO. He discussed the matter directly with me. Yet he elected to publish the card to a public board and represent it as fact. He went on to misrepresent the impact of this non-event disparaging a number of people along the way. And, Mr. Buck put words in my mouth, which doesn't make me particularly happy. You make the call.
Question 2.3: Have you at any time been the CEO of Amiga Inc.?
Question 2.4: Have you ever been employed by Amiga Inc.?
Question 2.5: Did you before KMOS involvement act as an advisor for Amiga Inc. without being employed by them?
Garry: Informally, and unfortunately unpaid. From time to time bill McEwen asks for my opinion on one thing or another. I tend to give it. Sometimes he agrees. Sometimes he doesn't.
Question 2.6: Where you or KMOS involved in Amiga's recent litigation?
Garry: Initially I wasn't. I saw the original complaint as a dispute over DE. It wasn't my fight. I was aware of many of the reckless claims regarding the Amiga name, trademarks and control of our intellectual property. I knew that one day it would be my fight. But not that day. I simply asked that these public claims be tracked for future reference. To be honest, I didn't see DE on the Pegasos as the end of the world. DE running on Linux could open a broader market. It could be a good thing for Amiga and the DE developers.
I know the Amiga guys didn't necessarily agree. They argued this whole suit was bogus and they had a point.
Thendic GmgH filed the original complaint with Amiga on January 3, 2003. There was a slight problem. Thendic began bankruptcy proceedings on November 7, 2002 and was declared closed due to insufficient assets (bankrupt) on January 27, 2003. Somehow this little detail was kept secret from the Court. Both Thendic and their counsel have a legal obligation to report such a material change. They didn't. No problem, Genesi was added to the complaint on February 17, 2003 arguing they were somehow an "affiliate" of Thendic. It's a little difficult to be an affiliate of a non-existent company. Kind of like accusing a dead man of stealing your car. And Genesi didn't meet the only other definition of affiliate in the agreement, common ownership of 50% or more. Together, Bill Buck and Raquel Velasco's ownership in Pegasos fell just a bit short. No problem, said Genesi, we're really the OEM. Genesi no more manufactures the Pegasos than does Vendome Investment Inc. of the Cayman Islands. OK, that's a bad example. Nobody manufactures much of anything in the Caymans. It's generally just a nice place to safely park financial assets. But, I wouldn't know anything about that.
We'll never know what might have happened if Amiga made these arguments. They didn't mount a defence. Judge Lasnik, rightly, acted on the information before him. The result is once Pegasos gets an Intent license from Tao Group, DE will be available for Linux. I understand Amiga has already taken steps to comply with the order. As I understand it, developers will be free to make their own deals. I hope this "platform" is wildly successful and the developers make a lot of money.
On March 1, 2004. Genesi filed their Motion to Amend. KMOS saw this action as Genesi seeking cover for the claims they'd publicly made. While carefully worded to mislead the Court, it was a direct threat to KMOS' intellectual property. My Board directly me to take all deliberate measures to protect our assets. I have whatever resources I need. It became my fight.
Question 2.7: There has been some speculation on the meaning of your second declaration, would you care to elaborate?
Garry: The final preparation for submitting documents to the Court is a little hectic. As many of you have seen, there is a lot of stuff to check and double check. I mistakenly sent the second to the last draft of my second Declaration to the Court. The final draft contained one additional phrase, "any product based in whole, or in part, on KMOS' intellectual property and distributed or sold into commercial markets without benefit of an executed distribution agreement...". I think the rest is pretty clear.
As an side, perhaps particularly for your non - US audience, I'd like to say a word or two about The United States District Court. This is not your local, county civil court. It is far more serious. It, sensibly, requires parties to a dispute to be represented by legal council. It has very specific rules of evidence. If for example (this is just an example) you had essentially been accused of perjury and responded something like, "I believe the email attributed to 'Fleecy Moss' was and still is from 'Fleecy Moss'." that is not evidence. It is a simple statement with no supporting documentation and absolutely no refutation of the material in the Motion before the Court. You might as well say, "I think beer cans have wings". Also, Courts are about application of existing law. It needs to be cited.
Judge Lasnik is a very capable and respected Judge. While he is probably sick of it, he understand this situation. He will look at two things and two things only; the agreement in question and the law. Everything else is just noise. Speaking for myself, I would not play games with a District Court Judge.
Question 2.8: Can you comment about the strategies that have been used in this current legal dispute?
Garry: Within 24 hours of the Motion to Amend a number of things happened. KMOS' corporate attorneys are in Northern California and litigation firm is in New York. It would waste time and money for either to be involved. KMOS would not join as co-defendant. This would be all Amiga. All the time. Within ten minutes of the first conference call with the Cairncross attorneys, it was decided that two motions would be presented to the Court; Amiga's Response to the Motion to Amend and, a Motion for Relief. For those of you, like me, trying to understand the U.S. legal system, Amiga did not appeal the Courts ruling. Nor did it seek dismissal. A Motion for Relief asks a District Court Judge to set aside his ruling For Cause. The implications and potential damages are quite different.
Amiga's attorneys emphasized that we had a week to gather evidence. Toward that end we put together a small work group. Qualification for membership was you had to be highly motivated, keep quiet and go without sleep for 18 days. Application for membership was over subscribed. I put on a Paul Thorn CD and went to work.
While I had absolutely no authority to do so, a week or so prior to the initial Summary Judgement, I asked everyone associated with Amiga to go silent. fleecy taking a "vacation" from Ask Fleecy (sorry AW) and Ray delaying publication of CAM was the last straw. We hoped that people would conclude Amiga was done for and continue to post goofy claims, threats and the like. I never dreamed Mr. Buck would be so cooperative.
The attorneys asked how we would gather information. We said, Mr. Buck would provide quite a bit of it. They were sceptical and wanted an example. We'd captured quite a few public posts and I have to admit that arguments from both sides shaped our thinking. But a few people stood out. In response to "Tatu", Mr. Buck wrote his, "What will happen next?" post. I sent it to the attorneys and asked, how this? Have you ever seen lawyers dance?
Early the next morning we got going. The work group asked what I would like to see. Proving I had no idea what I was talking about, I asked for every post on every board from the November 2000 date of the original agreement. There was a very long pause. One of the guys finally asked if I had any idea how many posts that meant. I guessed, "probably a couple hundred".
We settled on a little different method. Every post from Mr. Buck from the January 3, 2003 original complaint in context. Meaning the post, if any, he was responding to and any relevant posts following. That turned out to be quite a few. The floor of my office was covered with folders within the first two days. We also wanted posts from five individuals.
"Tatu". We have all your stuff.
Greg Schofield. Greg's posts were always thoughtful, well written and useful. His, "Who is the OEM?" post became the foundation for an entire legal argument and a lot of research. In the end we didn't use it. The Court has a 12 page limit on any Motion and we ended up with way to much information. But we completely developed this line of inquiry. Who knows, we might need it in the future, although I certainly hope this ends some day. I was concerned by one of Greg's posts. He correctly guessed Amiga may have gone silent on purpose. We watched for a thread but no one picked up on it. No more wild guesses, Greg. It is bad for journalism.
Bill Evans and Don Cox. Both these guys carry through with their arguments. Very interesting and well reasoned. The responses they elicit are found throughout both Amiga's Motions.
Mike Bouma. During the initial phases of research I "reached out" to a few individuals asking for help. I know some were friends of Amiga's and others probably sought to limit any personal liability. One evening I received unbelievable documents. I was already convinced that what we were dealing with was little more than misusing the Courts to steal property. This document made me angry. Around 1 AM I pick up the folder labelled Mike Bouma and read it a couple times. He knew exactly what was going on and didn't mince words about the issue. I felt better. I like you style, Mike.
If any of you run into me at a conference I'll buy you a beer... OK ...I'll buy you two. You'll need some "ID" Tatu.
A while later we added a third category; anyone Mr. Buck had called an "idiot". In most cases these "idiots" were computer enthusiasts not industry professionals. They'd ask a simple questions or make a comment and were immediately attacked, threatened and called names, mostly "idiots". I thought the "idiots" might be on to something. As an aside, I suppose it's part of board culture, but I don't get all the name calling - whether directed at Mr. Buck, Bill McEwen, Ray Akey or anybody else. But that's just me.
I know a number of people have openly questioned why their posts are included in the attachments presented to the Court. Some argue that they aren't even friends of Amiga or that their posts had nothing to do with the argument. True. But we wanted to present everything to the Court in context. The Judge can quickly get a feel for the nature of these boards; full of rumour, gossip, silliness and occasionally information. Evidence without context is suspect. Taking a couple lines of text off a web site, for example, without the entire document and an indication of who wrote it is pretty worthless.
At 6 PM on March 19 I turned off my computer and took my family to dinner. It hade been eighteen very long days and nights.
Question 2.9: Can anything good come out of what seems like an incredible waste of time and money?
Garry: The process wasn't as expensive as you might think. All the research and document preparation was done internally. But it was a tremendous drain on time. From late March 1 until late March 19, four of us literally spent 12 - 18 hour days, every day, researching and drafting in support of Amiga's attorneys. One of the four lives in Europe. I don't know when he slept but he stayed up all night, every night, to help me and the attorneys. He knows how I feel about him.
Until all this broke, I'd planned to be in Germany and the UK meeting with partners and developers the week of March 15. And I was supposed to be in China the following week. Things changed.
But it turned out to be very interesting. Many of you have seen the Declarations. Obviously I talked, often frequently, with Ben, Alan and to a lesser degree Francis. We got to know one another over this process in a way that would have been impossible over a dinner or meeting. They offered their help. When I asked for specific information that wasn't readily available they got it to me - in 24 hours. In one instance, with translation from German to English. I like these guys and look forward to working with them and, I hope, they feel the same about me.
After Amiga's first filing, I received a call from the CEO of, as far as I could tell, a Company completely unrelated to the Amiga/Thendic dispute. He was very upset that he didn't get to file a Declaration. I explained that his Company wasn't involved in this dispute. He said, "so what", and offered to pay part of the legal costs. Interesting.
A fifth Company, that I had never heard of, contacted me late last week and asked how they could help. The amount of time and money it would have cost to fly around meeting five companies in different parts of the world is likely several times the legal and time costs. In a way it turned out to be very efficient, although I don't want to make a habit of this approach to business development.
We've all seen the movie. A bully rides into town and starts pushing the villagers around. One of the villagers finally stands up and says, ENOUGH! They look around and the other villagers are at their side. Amiga stood up and a lot of people and companies were at its' side. Including me.
Question 2.10: What do you think of Bill Buck?
Garry: As I've mentioned I've only had one brief telephone conversation with Mr. Buck. I can't say that I know him. I try to focus on people's behaviour rather than speculate on their motivations. In this regard Mr. Buck has been very public. We can all make up our own minds.
In one regard I think Mr. Buck is quite amazing. Toward Amiga's first filing, four of us were literally working 15+ hour days researching and drafting materials on behalf of the attorneys. At the time Mr. Buck continued to post to public boards. The 48 hours preceding Amiga's "Response" filing, Mr. Buck literally wrote more than our efforts combined. And, while I seldom agree with the content, many of his posts were very well written. Quite impressive.
Question 2.11: KMOS owns and has owned for almost a year, the rights to Amiga's Operating Systems, Amiga Inc. retains rights over AmigaDE. Are there any other issues, such as competing trademarks, other intellectual property or other assets in general, that are outstanding between the two companies?
Garry: I don't believe so.
Garry Hare on: KMOS, Amiga Inc., Hyperion, Eyetech, Trademarks and etc.
Question 3.1: How would you describe the relationship between KMOS and Amiga Inc. at the present moment?
Garry: The relationship has been friendly and, due to recent events, become very friendly.
Question 3.2: Again, based on the present relations between the two companies, is there a prospect of the companies working closely together in the future? And, if so, is there a current understanding of continued association in the long term by both parties?
Garry: This comes down to customers. If a commercial customer specifies both KMOS and Amiga property as part of a solution, I'm pretty sure we can work something out.
Question 3.3: Hyperion has been doing an amazing job of re-inventing the Operating System, how would you describe the situation in terms of KMOS, Hyperion and the OS?
Garry: We are partners. I look forward to working with Ben and the people at Hyperion.
Question 3.4: Eyetech has done a marvellous job in providing the A1 and microA1 boards, obviously they have a stake in the future of the OS. The community has long been assured that Eyetech, Hyperion and Amiga Inc. are working together in this venture, now that KMOS is involved has anything substantially changed?
Garry: No. Nothing should change. Eyetech, Hyperion and KMOS have a common interest. We'd like to build an attractive market for current, and likely, future products. Alan and Ben know that, within limits, I will help in any way I can. As I didn't anticipate "going public" now, my schedule until about June, or so, is a bit of a mess. It will be difficult for me to participate in conferences and the like in the near term. I don't think that's important. Eyetech and Hyperion are doing just fine without my involvement.
Question 3.5: Would you like to make some comment on Hyperion and Eyetech's position in regard to KMOS, at least as you understand it?
Garry: We are commercial partners.
Question 3.6: Given KMOS'es self-description as stated above, Amiga Inc's DE technology would seem to be a natural extension of cross-platform development, would you care to comment on this statement?
Garry: I like Amiga's DE product and, particularly their distribution agreement with Microsoft and, I trust, others. Given my content background it is a natural interest. But I am focused on the requirements of a specific customer. This solution does not require DE.
Question 3.7: Amiga's OS website presumably still belongs to Amiga Inc, are there any plans to host this on a KMOS site or are relations between the two companies such that this does not matter?
Garry: About the last thing I've thought about lately is web sites. If we were to put up a KMOS site today about all it would do is point you to Hyperion and Eyetech. My first site is likely a "restricted access" site in support of partners and developers. I've yet to do much on that front either.
Question 3.8: Without attempting to speak for Amiga Inc. would it be true to say that it now can concentrate on the DE/Tao developments and business opportunities and that from their point of view this separation has been of benefit? Or is it the case that KMOS simply bought up the OS asset which for whatever reason Amiga Inc. was eager to sell?
Garry: One of the most difficult things for smaller companies to do is focus on a specific product or market. We all tend to jump around from one perceived opportunity to the next. I believe Amiga intends to focus on the DE market but I can't speak for them. KMOS' business relationships are concentrated in the broader telecommunication industry and we will focus there. I don't know that a single small entity can do both.
Question 3.9: Prior to the public announcement of your company's stake in Amiga technologies, Amiga Inc. drew some broad stroke objectives for the development and convergence of two technical innovations, the revived AmigaOS and DE type developments. Broadly speaking does KMOS share a similar outlook?
Garry: It isn't really KMOS' view that matters. We are proceeding to meet the needs of specific customers. I guess you could say that is our "strategy". I've proven, several times, that I'm not smart enough to accurately anticipate markets. My partners might be, but I keep arguing they aren't either.
Garry Hare: The Future
Question 4.1: Will we see OS 4.0 on the Pegasos computer?
Garry: In business you never say never. To my knowledge, Hyperion, Eyetech, Amiga and, certainly KMOS, have never received a proposal from Pegasos regarding the OS.
In general, I look at potential business prospects from several angles. First, what are the financial consequences of a given deal? I tend to focus on the worst case rather than upside projections, which tend to be a little rosy. If you achieve nothing more than worst case, what are the costs and benefits? Then, how would a new business relationship affect current partners and customers? There are some deals you simply can't do. There are, of course, limits to this. Let's say for example Intel (no, we don't have a deal with Intel) wants to buy 10 million units of something that competes with a current partner selling 10,000 units. Generally something can be worked out. Finally, is there a business history with a potential partner? What is their reputation in the market? Are they managed by people that you would like doing business with? Given just this criteria, I can't envision anything that Genesi and KMOS have to talk about. Sometimes life is just too short.
Question 4.2: What about those coupons and T-shirts?
Garry: I've been expecting this question. KMOS has no legal obligation to honour past promotional activities. But, I think we have an ethical one. I'm trying to work out the discount coupon situation and I believe I will. KMOS will certainly keep you posted. Given OS 4.0 isn't on the market yet, I have a little time, and if I paid $100 for something I'd certainly like to see the benefit. I have yet to see the accounting from Amiga. I don't know how many $50 and $100 discount coupons are out there. When I get this information, I will proceed. I hate it when anyone, including me, says, "trust me". It generally means they're trying to pick your pocket. So, I'm not asking any of you to trust me - let's just see if I can get this done. I'm aware of the problem and I'm trying to fix it.
Here's an answer without a question. KMOS will not be selling discount coupons!
The T-shirt situation is a little different. I don't know the details, but I'd like to stay out of the apparel business. It seems to me this should be Amiga's problem. I don't even know what the T-shirts were supposed to be. However, I'm willing to make a little side deal. If anyone would like to trade a T-shirt coupon for a "semi-collectable fake business card" (suitable for framing), we've got a deal. I only have 16 but as they are "fake" in the first place, I can probably print more. I think, although I may be wrong, this was through CAM. I'll speak to Ray. I'm serious about this. I've decided to carry real business cards. At least for now.
Question 4.3: Given your history in the broadband media industry, the need for flexible and reliable set-top boxes, console devices etc., combined with the nature of Amiga OS do you see a symbiosis between these devices and a desktop computer system? Is there a mutual benefit for catering for both, at least in the abstract speculative sense?
Garry: I've worked with telecommunications companies, in Europe, the U.S. and increasingly Asia, for the last seven years. As wired and wireless bandwidth increases, which it certainly is, the operators simply can't meet their objectives with current OS suppliers. I'm reasonably aware of the problem.
One of the features that attracted us to the Amiga OS in the first place is that, by definition, it is cross-platform. Improvement in any one market should improve the others, including the desktop. If the same application played across all platforms and devices, so much the better.
Question 4.4: Again given your personal history, you seem to be in a very good position to "drum up business", your diverse background in the high flying circles mainstream technical development must be seen as an asset. Modesty aside, how do you asses yourself in regard to our favourite Operating System?
Garry: Increasingly, I've come to know what I don't know. I try to surround myself with people that know far more than I do on a variety of business issues. That certainly includes technical issues, marketing, developer support and lately, legal. The first line in every job description is all employees are to try and keep me from looking stupid. Despite their best efforts I still manage to screw things up occasionally. A trait in my favour is, I read everything.
Question 4.5: Would you like to say something about the future of computing in general and allow our readers to imagine the place the Amiga OS might inhabit? Or indeed any other ideas which may bare ever so tenuously to the future of our OS?
Garry: I'm afraid none of this is breakthrough thinking. The world's going mobile, from wireless laptops to PDAs, to SmartPhones and numerous stops in between. I don't think we're very far away from each home having the equivalent of a "content server", sending digital signals, probably wireless, to the TV, the stereo, the PC and many other devices. What is interesting is the implications for media. Except for one small example, I won't go into that here. A while back I was in China talking with one of the ministers concerned with economic development. He told me, outside the two major urban centres, the fastest road for increased income was becoming fluent in English. There is a tremendous demand for people in transportation, communication, hospitality and many other industries who are be bi-lingual. As computers are very expensive, he wondered if mobile phones could be used for English language learning ( a company I'm very loosely associated with is now working on this application). He specifically used the example of training air traffic controllers in English, which I found a little scary - I took the train. I have no idea what the future of media will look like but I am sure I'll be surprised by it all.
Question 4.6: How long have you been using Amiga Computers and do you plan to participate in the Amiga Community?
Garry: This is where I'm supposed to say, I've been using Amiga Computers since I was a child and love them more than my German Shepherd. But AmigaWorld keeps insisting that I be accurate and not evasive. How's this? I've never owned an Amiga Computer and, as far as I can remember, never touched an Amiga keyboard. A number of people I've worked with over the years certainly have. I believe Charlie Kelner programmed part of "Fractalis" on an Amiga and we used a bank of Classics to program the interleave logic in producing "Escape From CyberCity".
Over the past decade or so I've turned into a "suit", actually a faded Levi, sort of guy. My work life revolves around contracts, spreadsheets and research reports. I need a pretty full suite of business applications. I'm writing this on a fairly high end Toshiba laptop with a great screen. I also have a Powerbook G4. Mostly, I take it to meetings to look cool.
Everyone at KMOS wants an AmigaOne running 4.0. I'm trying for a "partners" discount through Alan. Negotiations continue.
Through my recent addition to public boards I've noticed that a few people demand that I explain myself. Others expect me to engage the rumour, speculation and childish behaviour in some of the discussions. I've never published to a public board and I don't have any plans to start now. Several people who work with me certainly read and post often. As long as they respect confidential information, I have absolutely no problem with that. Its a free country - at least mine was until a few years ago.
But, aside from the prospects for the future of the OS, we were attracted to Amiga for a few other reasons. The name is not as valuable as it used to be but it is a known brand and, unless I mess it up, could come back. We know there is a worldwide user base, perhaps 10,000 or so strong. And maybe 1,000 very supportive and vocal enthusiasts. We'd like to set up an early adopter program, initially between 100 and 500 users. Nokia does much the same thing with the entire population of Finland, with great success. As we bring new products to market these early adopters can purchase them at a reduced price in exchange for feedback on everything from ease of use to the quality of applications. We will have a restricted access site to make participation very easy. This should gives us a lot of flexibility. If we launched a product, say in Italy, we could draw upon our Italian early adopters, etc. We are already designing this program but there are two little problems. We don't have the web site up and we don't have a new product quite yet. We will. There could be t-shirts involved. Wait... I didn't say that.
More important, I've never felt developer support programs do a very good job of supporting developers. I'd like to change that. I am contracting with the best information management firm I know to help set a structure for information and retrieval over a restricted access site. Once we have a handle on what can be done, I'll invite more than a few developers to tell us what they would like to see. I have a few ideas but they will have many more. We have access to all the web design talent that anyone could ever ask for. I will ask our partners if they would like to be involved but, either way, it will be done. In fact, one of our customers requires it. And I certainly agree. I know many of you reading this might consider buying a computer due to the operating system installed. Most people don't know or care. They care about applications and nothing more.
It becomes simple. If the developers are successful, KMOS will be successful. If they can't survive, we won't either. One developer asked if he will have direct access to me. Of course, although anyone relying on me for technical information has completely lost their mind. Professionals will be involved. I will, however, be pretty active and open on market information and product strategy. All confidential, of course.
Since the emergency launch of Information@KMOS.com , we've received thousands of hits. Many seem to be from the same handful of people. They contain threats, name calling and such nonsense. I don't see any of them, they're simply deleted. We do track them as I don't want any of these people involved in the future of this Company. Except regarding children, I don't suffer childish behavior particularly well.
If the above is your idea of "community", I will be very involved. If its something else - count me out.
Question 4.7: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Garry: Amiga went through two pretty thorough rounds of due diligence. Aside from the items you'd expect to find in any under capitalized company, we found that more than just Genesi concluded that Amiga couldn't defend itself and proceeded to help themselves to IP, trademarks and even distributed a commercial product without an agreement. Many of you have seen my "Declarations" and know what I'm talking about. Unfortunately before I can turn my full attention to building this Company I have to clean up these items. I prefer the company of developers to lawyers but legal issues have become part of my job.
My job description was simple, "Build this company", with two bullet points. Later they added, oh yeah, protect the intellectual property. If I would have known then what I know now, I would have insisted on a renegotiation and a new GT3 (that's a car not a PC) delivered to my door.
In one instance, due diligence issues regarding Amiga and KMOS overlap. I believe all employees should be paid for the work they do. Amiga has two well publicized labour judgements against them and I hope they are cleared soon. But a labour judgement, paid or not, does not pierce confidentiality and NDA. It appears that one former Amiga employee transferred intellectual property (now KMOS' intellectual property) to a third party for financial gain. That is a criminal act and should be treated as such. He went on to brag about it on public boards. That's not a criminal act, just not very smart. Other than that, with the possible exception of this guy in Australia, I'm not very interested in the actions of individuals.
I do think it is particularly reprehensible when an employer directs their employees to misuse others property. The employee is in a bind. Usually they need the income and can't simply walk out - although a couple did. Enough said. If you'd like to reach me on any of these matters, just drop a line to my attention at Information@KMOS.com. It will be confidential and it will get to me.
Question 4.8: Finally, Garry, why did you select AW for this interview?
Garry: You asked. I do thank Amigaworld.net for this opportunity to answer a couple questions and I apologize for the length. It seemed necessary. I don't want anyone to conclude this is the start of an "ask Garry" column. It isn't. We will release information on matters that materially affect KMOS; certainly product releases, perhaps strategic partners and others matters that seem relevant. I'll be happy to answer questions, here on AmigaWorld if David would like, when any of these events occur. Anyone asking questions regarding business cards will be condemned to a Pegasos... ...running Windows.
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