All about Be
Where does Be fit?
One investor called us "the poor man's Silicon Graphics." He was trying to tease
me, but I said, "Call me every morning at 8 a.m. to remind me of that
station in life, because I love it." You know that Silicon Graphics has had
a lot of problems with the low-end but it has done exceedingly well at the
[Or] maybe we could be the Amiga of the late 90's. People say, "You
are crazy! Why would you want to be the Amiga? It's dead." No, no, no.
Commodore is dead and it took the Amiga down with it. It was a very
successful computer. It sold 4.5 million machines to a very loyal
following. I wouldn't mind such a market for a 40-person company. We can be
very successful in building and developing software and hardware for people
interested in developing content, not consuming content. On the consuming
side, we have no role to play.
It's tempting to compare Be to Next, which Steve Jobs started after he left
Apple in order to build the ultimate high-end machine. What makes Be
There are a few differences, minor or major, you decide. We don't
cost $10,000. We don't sell $15,000 development system [computers].
Instead, we discount our hardware to developers. It is an honor when a
developer commits to our system, not vice versa. We have a floppy; we don't
use a funky magneto-optical drive. [Next machines shipped without floppy
drives.] Risk on the system software is enough, all the rest is industry
standard, PC-clone, organ-bank parts. We're not going to get a medal for
designing a new keyboard or a new hard disk or a new bus.
Also our stuff is faster. If you remember, in order to get the Next machine
out fast, they took off-the-shelf components such as display PostScript,
which is very nice, and a [Unix] kernel from Carnegie Melon University, called Mach, and
bolted them together. That allowed for fast development, but the
performance was slow. As one of my engineers who has been a hacker said,
"the geeks will forgive a lot, but not a slow machine."
Doesn't Be need this Apple deal? You've been through two rounds
of private and venture capital and your investors must be anxious to see
The investors invested and we invested on the basis that Be had a
valid business plan as an independent company. If there is a deal that
creates leverage for both investors--by enabling Apple shareholders to have
something that will advance the interests the company--fine; if it advances
the interests of our shareholders--fine. But our business is not predicated
on any such deal. Life doesn't work that way.
Then what about taking Be public?
I don't know yet. You know, I'm a French farmer. I've been abducted
by aliens and dropped in the middle of California, so what do I know about
all this stuff? [Laughs] My view of IPOs is this: My window overlooks
the parking lot. When I see investment bankers fighting for parking spots,
I'll know it's time to do an IPO. It's easy, do a good job and the
environment will take care of the rest.
NEXT: Corporate detox