Monday, March 20, 2006

Ozzie Awarded Key Industry Player

From my partner Chris Carleton...

Few tech execs boast a reputation for vision and innovation like Ray Ozzie.

Internationally recognized for his role as the Father of Lotus Notes, his subsequent years spent founding/growing/selling Groove Networks to Microsoft – and ascending to the position of Microsoft CTO – have earned him at least as much attention. There’s no reason to believe the spotlight will dim any time soon.

Arguably the best and brightest to come from our neck of the tech woods, he enjoyed such billing last week. Attending the annual Massachusetts Network Communications Council Awards Dinner, he was there to collect his prize for Key Industry Player.

Microsoft PR exec Rich Eckel kindly stopped by with Ray during the pre-dinner cocktail chat CHEN PRers Barb Ewen, Kevin Kosh and I were having with the evening’s emcee, Network World’s John Gallant.

What ensued was a most interesting discussion about the opportunities and challenges facing tech company execs – be they with Series A Startups or Multibillion Megaplayers.

Few can speak from a position of authority on this topic as can Ray. His adventures are impressive. Iris Associates, predecessor to Notes, which Lotus execs keenly incubated to help it safely gesticulate in the shadows of 800-pound Spreadsheet Gorilla 1-2-3. Then, redefining collaborative computing under the Lotus Notes banner. Leaping back into start-up land after IBM’s acquisition of Lotus to found Groove Networks, fueled by a commitment to take collaboration to the next level. Taking a substantial investment from Microsoft to help Groove implement against its plans. Eventually being acquired by Bill Gates & Co .

I won’t quote from the conversation since that’d be inappropriate. Besides, I’m confident Ray (and, thus, Rich) has plenty of others quoting and misquoting him. But, suffice to say there’s a lot of Grass Is Greener fodder on the startup versus big company front… depending on which side of the fence you’re standing at any given time. It’s equally clear that the combo of startup and big company experience Ray brings to his current role comes in plenty handy.

Notably, it was great to see Rich again. He and Ray came to the awards dinner from NYC, where they participated in Microsoft’s kickoff of its $500 million marketing campaign to pump Windows Vista and Office 2007.

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