Techscape: A Wordwise veteran
Moir of a technologist or an entrepreneur
The Atari UK MD quickly reassured the American legend who earlier had created the Commodore 64 (the Yank equivalent of the BBC Micro) selling millions of units and according to Moir “started a revolution.” The Brit calmly pointed out, “This is Acorn. They’re not a threat. They’ll screw it up; they always do,” he said.
Moir agreed with that assessment both at the time and, certainly, today given the Acorn brand has been wiped off the face of the Earth. But he was sad to see the elegant machine go.
With a grand old pile and funds to go through a comfortable, cavalier life, why does Moir continue to work in technology?
“I’d get bored as hell if I didn’t do something,” he says, more like a recent retiree than a man in his productive prime, “Tech interests me. I’ve never worked for anyone else. I’ve never had a job.”
The “something” Moir does now is called Xara and is first and foremost a software development company. This he says, is the core business which generates the lion’s share of revenue and blasts out “mass market” software products which are diverse but also mainly graphics-oriented. “In many ways, Xara is a product-line extension of Wordwise. In fact, I think if you were to call us up we might be able to find a copy and sell it to you,” he said chuckling.
A second business is the online distribution arm which markets software which allows the user to establish a web site efficiently. During the giddy dot-com days, this type of product was the Holy Grail because of the gold rush mentality to go online. So while the general software sector languishes with limp sales and no more VC exhilaration, this area is still the high-potential one for Moir. "This side of the business sits there, not a serious revenue-generator. We watch it and are ready to rebuild it if the time is right—but it’s a matter of focus.”
Moir’s current focus is on a new product called Xara Xtreme, which Xara calls “the fastest most versatile graphics software available.” Hype? Moir says not. “This general purpose graphics software competes with Corel Draw and Illustrator,” he says, while this new product is also looking forward to a head-on collision with Microsoft’s new Expression Graphic Designer software, part of Vista. Moir says it’ll issue a wake-up call to the world’s leading consumer software company. “No one competes with Microsoft and takes it lightly,” he adds ominously.
While certainly true, Microsoft will be scrutinizing another aspect of Xara Xtreme even more closely: a recent Open Source launch of Xtreme which will threaten the big, monopolistic company on a second front.
Is Moir a Linux devotee? “The evolution of the Linux desktop over the last few years has been incredible,” he gushes. All systems at Xara, he says, are dual-booting while he tends to boot up the Windows side more regularly because they develop on that dominant platform. That may change dramatically he is quick to point out.
Does he believe that over the next year or two, he’ll be booting up Linux more and more while booting up Windows less and less?
Bill Robinson has appeared on CNN, PBS, Bloomberg and had his own segment on SKY News commenting on high-tech and marketing issues and has written columns and articles for FORTUNE Small Business, The Financial Times, Marketing Magazine (UK), Forbes.com, The Moscow Times, Cisco Systems iQ Magazine, United Airline's Hemispheres Magazine and Upside Magazine. Bill may be reached at: [email protected]