[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

2000/11/12

by Joel Spolsky
Sunday, November 12, 2000

Transmeta goes Public

I like Transmeta, for two big reasons.

First, they are the first CPU designers to finally admit that the age of designing instruction sets is over. If you want to design a CPU for PCs, and you want people to use it, you no longer have the luxury of inventing your own instruction set. You have to run x86 code. Period. And Transmeta recognized this from the start.

The second reason I like Transmeta is that they decided to tackle a really, really hard problem, even though it took many years to get launched. This is not a "build to flip" company. They don't mind going after Intel, which is very brave of them. That puts them squarely in the Ben and Jerry's camp. So many of the dot coms that are blowing up right now were built in about three months and never had any sustainable competitive advantage, let alone barriers to entry, and it's no wonder that they're doing so badly.

(By the way, when I say "I like Transmeta," I don't mean as an investment. Intel is probably going to squash them like a bug without even doing anything. Which is too bad, because I like Transmeta.)

Caution, the moving walk is nearing its end. Please watch your step.

I'm in Denver airport waiting for a flight back to NYC on the utterly, completely horrid United Airlines. As I look around dozens of flights are either cancelled, delayed by hours, or overbooked. The customer service line for rebooking is miles long.

If you know the secret, you can get a nice cubicle upstairs with an ethernet connection to the Internet ($3.95 for 30 minutes) and very comfortable aeron chairs. The only trouble is that it's near the end of the moving walk, and there's a voice on the loudspeakers which repeats, "caution, the moving walk is nearing its end. Please watch your step." every half minute or so. So far it hasn't driven me crazy, yet, but I'm sure it will.

Inprise is Borland Again

The only time a company would want to change its name, from something people recognize to something completely new, would be if it had such low brand equity that the old name was a liability. So ValuJet, nearly bankrupted due to their shockingly poor safety record, changed their name to AirTran, and when a bunch of consumer-loathed phone companies merged (Bell Atlantic, GTE, and AirTouch) they must have decided that not one of those names was worth the recognition, so they came up with Verizon. But there was nothing wrong with Borland, so I never understood why they changed their name to Inprise.

I guess they didn't either, because looking at their web site, it seems like they're back to Borland.

Prediction: you'll see a lot of name changes among local phone companies, cable television companies, and airlines over the next few years, as the shakeout for years of abysmal customer service starts to catch up with them.


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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, insanely simple project management, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracker designed to help great teams develop brilliant software, and Kiln, which simplifies source control. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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