Along with expressing some odd policy opinions -- anti-trust enforcement is BAD for the technology industry?? -- a CNet article reminded me that President-Elect Obama intends to appoint a govermental CTO to "ensure that our government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century," among other duties. Well, I think there's a single obvious and best choice for the job: Charles Rossotti, former Commissioner of the IRS and, more to the point, the most admirable CEO I have ever met in my 27 years of covering the computer software industry.
Charles was co-founder and CEO of American Management Systems, a rather unique company. Already in the 1980s, AMS perfected a hybrid software/professional services business model similar to that which cemented Oracle's fortune under Ray Lane in the 1990s. AMS was one of only two application software companies I ever recall that simply published its entire customer list. You could call anybody you chose, and they expected you to get a glowing reference. Competitors said that, in salessituations where budget permitted, AMS was essentially unbeatable.
I was a stock analyst at PaineWebber when I got to know AMS, and due to a technicality -- insufficient total market capitalization -- not allowed to recommend AMS stock. So I bought the stock on my personal account, and my parents', tripling my investment in a couple of years before selling way too soon. As was customary and ethical, I told my clients about the stock. Since I wasn't allowed to publish about it, I suggested they do their own research. And here's the thing -- I told them to call Charles and believe whatever he told them, because he was the only completely truthful CEO I'd ever met in the software industry. Two decades later, that's still my opinion of him and, for that matter, of almost all the industry's other CEOs.
Unfortunately, in one of his rare blunders Rossotti blew his succession planning, and AMS didn't do so well after he left it. So it's largely forgotten today. But it had one heck of a run, and he did it the RIGHT way.
Highlights of Rossotti's resume include:
More background can be found in the Amazon reviews of a book he wrote about his IRS tenure. (That's not an affiliate link.) And don't miss more public policy requests for the Obama Administration.
Curt Monash is a leading analyst of and strategic advisor to the software industry. Praised by Lawrence J. Ellison for his "unmatched insight into technology and marketplace trends," Curt was the software/services industry's #1 ranked stock analyst while at PaineWebber, Inc., where he served as a First Vice President until 1987. He subsequently co-founded Evernet, Inc., a $40 million networking systems integrator. Since 1990, he has owned and operated Monash Research, an analysis and advisory firm covering software-intensive sectors of the technology industry. In that period he also has been co-founder, president, or chairman of several other technology startups.
Curt has served as a strategic advisor to many well-known firms, including Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, AOL, CA, and Netezza. Curt earned a Ph.D. in mathematics (Game Theory) from Harvard University. He has held faculty positions in mathematics, economics and public policy at Harvard, Yale, and Suffolk universities.