Back in 1982 Herman Hauser, founder and then head of Acorn Computer Group Plc, sent Bill Gates packing. The unknown 26 year-old entrepreneur had attempted to sell Hauser his MS DOS operating system. At the time far richer than the unknown Gates, Hauser told him it would be a retrograde step, and dismissed him. Hauser’s […]
Back in 1982 Herman Hauser, founder and then head of Acorn Computer Group Plc, sent Bill Gates packing. The unknown 26 year-old entrepreneur had attempted to sell Hauser his MS DOS operating system. At the time far richer than the unknown Gates, Hauser told him it would be a retrograde step, and dismissed him. Hauser’s biggest error, the incident has haunted him ever since. Acorn floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1981, and instantly catapulted Hauser in to the coveted position of twelfth richest person in the UK. But success was short lived, as the exploding MS-DOS compatible personal computer market left Acorn’s offering in a siding. Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA eventually invested in the company, leaving Hauser with a mere 5% stake. But, he says, he has learned much about the world of business since then. Over the past two decades he’s started more than 20 information technology companies in the UK, the most successful of which has been the Acorn spin-off Advanced Risc Machines Ltd, the company that developed the proprietary ARM RISC chip. So successful in fact that Hauser reckons recent deals will ensure the chip will be embedded in a half to three quarters of all Groupe Speciale Mobiles phones by the turn of the decade. These days Hauser likes to regard himself as something of a mini venture capitalist. He places as much emphasis on marketing and sales as with the actual technology, and has come to realise the importance of partnerships and the need to conform to technology standards. Today Bill Gates would be welcomed with open arms, he said. Middle man. Following years of hands on work, Hauser now prefers to take a back seat. He still gets approached by people that have ideas but lack general business acumen, and thinks that this could be where his future lies. It will still be another six months or so before any firm announcements are made, but Hauser said his role as a middle man is one he intends to develop. He laments the current investment situation in the UK, and claims the country lacks an investment culture that flourishes in the US. Hauser has plans to use the contacts and experience derived from a lifetime in the technology business to launch a new stream of information technology UK start-ups. And although Austrian by birth, Hauser adopted Cambridge, UK as his home during the 1970s and has a desire to put the city on the global high-technology map. Potential firms don’t have to be from my city, he said, but it would be great if they were.