Friday, July 22, 2005

Bill Gates Is After Me!

While the world still scratches its head wondering whether Microsoft will ultimately acquire our client, online advertising/adware giant Claria Corp., this week it was definitively announced that Redmond would be gobbling up FrontBridge (pending govt approval), another SHIFT client, in the email security realm... And in related news, also this week, MS became a minority investor in yet another (former) client, Finjan Software.

So as you can guess, this past month whenever a client called me "to discuss something important," my first response has been, "Uh-oh, have you been talking to that Bill Gates fella?"

What's interesting for us to think about - and for all firms - is the topic of "specialization." For some time now we've specialized in IT Security. Rattling off some names, we work (or have worked) with companies like CyberTrust, Vernier Networks, Preventsys, SonicWall, Foundstone, Kaspersky Labs, etc. Now that IT Security is hot-hot-hot (and certainly in Gates & Ballmers' cross-hairs), we have the dubious honor of watching our hard work pay-off as one client after another gets snatched up by big-name players.

Thus the conundrum: should we specialize in certain areas, so that we can leverage our expertise and credentials to attract a slew of start-ups in a sector? - or should we be die-hard generalists, to minimize the chances of losing a bunch of sector clients, one-after-another, in the M&A wave that's sure to occur if our PR kicks ass?!

As usual, my guess is that the answer lies "somewhere in-between" these two options!

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