David Goldman, Sage
A key figure of the UK IT industry
Obituary The death of Sage founder David Goldman, after a long illness, will have been greeted with great sadness across the in the IT industry this week.
Goldman was a familiar figure in the trade, having been at the helm of what has become Britain's most successful software company. He and Graham Wylie started Sage in 1981 along with two other Tyneside businessmen. It grew steadily but it was Goldman's insight and entrepreneurial instinct that led to its phenomenal growth from 1985 onwards.
Attending the PCW Show at Olympia in London, Goldman saw the Amstrad 8256 in action, he recognised a massive opportunity. He returned to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to order the immediate adaptation of Sage's accounting software for the machine.
Sage rode on the runaway success of the 8256 and capitalised further a year later when Amstrad launched its first PC range. From that point on Sage never looked back. Small business users needed its accounting software more than they needed the Amstrad PCs.
Goldman started the company's acquisitive strategy in 1988 when it bought Sky Software and moved into the mid-range market. Later he also moved the company into Europe and the US. The floatation of Sage on the London Stock Exchange in December 1989 was one of his proudest moments. The public listing gave Sage the ability to press on with the acquisitions at home and abroad and to build the company to the international force it has become today.
His contribution to business was recognised all over the UK. He was named North East Businessman of the Year and UK Entrepreneur of the Year by a leading accounting firm. In 1992 Goldman received an MBE. He took a keen interest in local affairs, sitting for a time on the board of Business Link Tyneside and holding a number of non-paid directorships. But he would only get involved when he felt he could make a useful contribution.
To those who knew him well, David Goldman was a relaxed and level-headed character. He was also a determined businessman who was passionate about the company he and Wylie had built together.
He was rightly proud of Sage's success and clearly cared about the people who worked for the company. He was also a sincere family man and this was certainly one of the main driving forces behind David Goldman.
In an interview in 1996, he said: "We all started out because we needed to make money to live and for most people, that's where it ends. We've obviously gone further and I have to say that, when you float, it's rather like winning the pools. I'd always thought that I'd buy two cars and three yachts and all that but when we did float I discovered that it wasn't to do with that - it was to do with security and peace of mind."
In many different ways, David Goldman was a rich man, respected by those who worked with him and for him. He was one of the key figures in the development of the PC industry in the UK between 1985 and 1996, when he began to phase down his involvement in the day to day running of Sage. A warm, friendly and determined man, he will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him. ®