Gone. Forgotten?

It’s said we meet people for a reason, for a season or for a lifetime. I think we always hope it will be for a lifetime. I learned this year that the lifetime hope is fragile and often dashed to pieces. It’s learning that hurts. A lot.

But don’t companies experience the same three patterns? Many are founded for compelling reasons. Many only last a season. It’s ironic that Google sits on the former campus of Silicon Graphics. Facebook on SUN’s.
Corporate evolution moves far faster than human, I’m sure most of Google’s young employees don’t even know what Silicon Graphics was.

Same with Digital Equipment Corporation, in its day one of the world’s largest IT companies, second only to IBM in this country. When I was at DDB, I led and won a pitch for DEC’s global advertising. It was the largest new business win DDB had achieved at that time. We replaced more than seventy agencies around the world. Less than three years later, DEC was gone. Its former CEO Ken Olson made the fatal mistake of deeming PC’s snake oil, something no one would ever want. Hello IBM and their famous Charlie Chaplin campaign. Goodbye DEC. DEC was purchased by Compaq which was purchased by HP. Rapid evolution.

The day Digital closed its historic headquarters in Maynard, Massachusetts–The Mill–everyone cried.

Who remembers Digital today? Who remembers Wang? I date myself with these memories. When I was in Mannheim last weekend with my brilliant friend at SAP, he had never heard of Digital Equipment Corporation. Nor Wang. Nor Silicon Graphics. SUN will fade away, too. Thousands of lesser companies only survive in their founders’ memoirs.

IBM feels like a lifetime. P&G. Coke. Philips and Unilever survived the Nazis.
Yet we know there is no forever.

What does your company feel like?

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