Monday, March 14, 2005

The Vision Thing

I was reading Richard Schwartz's post on Microsoft's acquisition of Groove and one particular response caught my attention. Concerning Ray being a visionary one responder said:


Who said that Ray is still such a visionary? I think he lost his magic long ago.


I think I understand what the person is saying, Ray's recent work hasn't had as big an impact as some previous stuff. What's been troubling me however is whether it's fair to rank 'visioness' in the first place and if so is success the best way to do it.


Certainly just having an idea isn't enough to be called a visionary, but at the other end of the spectrum, does it really need to be a commercial or popular success too? In Ray's case he has a proven track record for developing interesting ideas into usable tools. He builds great core teams, he gets solid financial backing and he gets people to execute.


Maybe Groove isn't Ray's best idea. Time will be a better judge of that. But is it fair to judge his visionary status on Groove's current market penetration or its current impact on the software zeitgeist?


I don't know Ray personally; even though our times at Iris overlapped some, I only met him a few times and we never had any meaningful interactions. What I know about him comes more from just being in the industry and being an industry observer for a lot of years. If Ray's not a visionary, and a damn good one, I'm not sure who is.

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