Words on OpenText

Our university held a gala event at the Royal York Hotel featuring Tom Jenkins, the CEO of Open Text Corporation. They’re into enterprise content management systems (ECMs), and with $100 million in the bank and $100 million spent on R&D last year, are doing very well to boot. Jenkins has a background in Engineering Physics, plus a Masters in Engineering and an MBA. He spoke to us on a variety of topics:

On Sarbanes-Oxley
Spitzer may be the McCarthy of our era. “We live in litigious times.” He feels that the strictness of the rules dissuades companies from taking risks and innovating.

On being good ol’ Hamilton boy
He thanks RedHat/Lulu.com co-founder Bob Young for buying the Hamilton Tiger Cats football team, or else he would have had to. “My wife wouldn’t have been too happy.” He loves what Young has done to revive the Ti-Cats, but disagrees on Young’s mandate to drop the “Argos suck!” fan diss toward the Toronto Argonauts.

Bad bets
Open Text built a 3D Yahoo! in VRML in 1996. It was very slow and VRML never reached mass acceptance.

The future of information
Despite the lukewarm adoption to VRML, we will soon communicate as avatars on a “virtual Internet” similar to the Metaverse of Snow Crash.

Good bets
Open Text achieved fame in the mid-1990’s as the search engine of Yahoo! However, in late 1996, Digital approached Yahoo! with an offer it couldn’t refuse: a search function and content system for free. The only thing they wanted in return was a link back to their new search engine, Altavista. Open Text decided to not match this offer, and abandoned the consumer sector for the slower but safer journey into the enterprise content management market.

The rest is history: Digital is no more, and the Open Text is a $400 million company.

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