In 1982, Ron Gruner, Craig Mundie, and Rich McAndrew founded Alliant Computer Systems to build parallel supercomputers. Their goal was to build a machine that used multiprocessing to achieve better performance than the fastest single-CPU machines, but in a way that was transparent to developers.
In 1985, after 3 years of work, they’d done it, and for the next several years Alliant was one of the leading players in the turbulent parallel computer industry. But the company lost its way; Gruner left in 1991 after disagreement about the company’s direction; and a year later Alliant filed for bankruptcy.
Looking for something to do next, Gruner started a new company at the opposite end of the spectrum: a web-based service business. His experience as CEO of Alliant had taught him the importance of investor relations. In 1992, he founded Shareholder.com with the goal of using technology to automate the process. Shareholder.com grew steadily, and in February 2006 was acquired by NASDAQ.
Before reading the case study, I’ve never thought that there was Alliant Computer Systems and Shareholder.com in our industry because I’ve never been heard of it even once in my life.
Gruner really had three jobs in his life, starting with Data General in 1969. He moved up from Oklahoma to Massachusetts to work for Data General, which got a lot of visibility in the late ‘60s, even though it was a very small company. He started as their 43rd employee and saw them grow to over 15,000 when he left in 1982.
After reading the study, I’ve learned that you must be decisive in making choices because the success of the business will depend on it. You must also be well motivated to surpass all things especially big problems. And be ready of competitors that will block your way to the gate of success.