Business Week: [StarOffice’s] Marco Boerries: The Last Man Standing against Microsoft?

“Marco Boerries’ start in business sounds like that of so many
other precocious high-tech virtuosos — such as Steve Jobs, Michael
Dell, and Bill Gates. As a 16-year-old foreign exchange student
living in Silicon Valley in the mid-1980s, the German-born Boerries
fell so in love with the local technology scene that he refused to
move back to Germany with his parents. In the end, he only returned
when his mother agreed to let him drop out of school to work
full-time on building a company. And rather than aim low, Boerries
founded his company, Star Division, to go after the huge market for
office programs…”

“…Boerries was hardly a failure as an independent
entrepreneur. He outlasted former rivals such as Lotus, Borland,
and WordPerfect to become arguably Microsoft’s top rival in some
core European markets, including Germany. ‘I remember him
predicting the demise of Lotus and Borland way back in the early
1990s because they were trying to compete with Microsoft by doing
what Microsoft does,’ says Cisco Systems Vice-President Andreas
Bechtolscheim, a co-founder of Sun who took a 20% stake in Star
Division in 1992.”

“His impact has already been felt. For starters, Banman
says it was Boerries who pushed the idea of giving away Star
While he had to charge for it as a stand-alone
maker, Boerries figured that Sun could expand usage through this
giveaway strategy, and that it could make money on service
contracts and by using Star as a way to push server sales.”

” ‘Marco has an incredible amount of enthusiasm for his agenda,’
says Bechtolscheim. ‘He has this inner belief that’s remarkable.
Not many people have the strength to keep after a goal that looks
next to impossible. But now it’s a new ball game.’ And a new chance
to make good on the bold plans he laid out as a 16-year-old

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