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

Sep 18, 1999, 02:14 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Peter Burrows)

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"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 software. 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 entrepreneur."

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