I would like to take time to thank Bob Harris and Keith Nightingale for the letters you recently sent me.
Bob’s Easter letter was a very interesting recounting of his career starting at General Atomic in January 1968 after he graduated with a Ph.D. in particle physics. Soon after he joined GA to work for me, Gulf Oil bought the company, and I left to start SAI in February 1969. When Bob’s contract ended at GA, he joined me at SAI, becoming one of the company’s earliest employees in June 1970.
Thank you, Bob, for the letter and for your summary of the lessons that you learned at SAI. I hope you had an enjoyable Easter, and that you will send me copies of your big-picture books when they are published.
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Keith sent me a paper he wrote on the meaning of Normandy in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion in 1944. Keith’s story centered on a small village in France by the name of Hemevez. Each year the townspeople honor 7 American parachutists of the 82nd Airborne Division who were captured by the Germans and executed on June 6, 1944.
Some years ago I visited the Normandy beaches and battlefields where so many Americans lost their lives in the name of freedom. It was a very sobering experience. We owe our World War II veterans, both living and dead, a great and eternal debt. Thank you Keith for sending me your paper.
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As I mentioned last week, Ron Arnold chartered the America’s Cup replica yacht America for Betty and me and a small group of friends to tour San Diego Bay. I have included a few photos from that very enjoyable day.
I would like to congratulate Dylan Bayerl, who has been named a Beyster PhD Fellow for the 2014-2015 school year at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. This is a great accomplishment, and I know that Dylan worked hard to earn his fellowship.
I look forward to meeting Dylan within the next month or two, and I wish him much success in the future. His photo is included below.
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Speaking of photos, Ron Arnold scheduled some interesting excursions on San Diego Bay over the past few weeks while my boat Solutions has been hauled out of the water for annual maintenance and repairs. A number of my friends and SAIC colleagues have been able to join me, which has made these trips particularly enjoyable.
A couple of Fridays ago, Ron chartered one of the San Diego Seal Tour amphibious vehicles for a 90-minute tour of the Bay. Joining us were Paul Kouris, Barb Schmidt, and book contest winner Bill Proffer.
And last Friday we went out for a sail on America, which is a 139-foot replica of the yacht that won the original America’s Cup competition. This is something I have wanted to do for the past four years, and we had a perfect day out on the water.
We had quite a group on this trip, including my wife Betty, Malin Burnham, Chuck Nichols, Jim Hakeem, Mark Waldschmidt, Scott Graham, Don Wyatt, Troy Sears, Ron’s son Conner, and others. I have included a couple of photos from our Seal Tour.
I was very concerned to read a recent article in the Washington Post about the resignation of Leidos COO Stuart Shea. According to the article, Shea’s resignation may be linked to the ongoing decline in the company’s revenues and profits.
Leidos reported an 18% drop in fourth quarter revenues from 2012 to 2013, and a 75% drop in fourth quarter profit from 2012 to 2013. I am disappointed with these financial results and hope that they are a temporary aberration. I also hope that the split up of SAIC into two separate companies has not had a negative effect on the ability of Leidos to win new business, and to make a profit on the business that it has.
As you know, ICANN and the Internet have been in the news lately. It seems that there is a move within the Obama administration to transfer responsibility for the domain name system from ICANN to some as-yet unnamed international body.
I personally do not think this is a good idea. While our own Congress is not currently a very good model of democracy in action, and the administration seems to be stuck in neutral, I doubt that some UN-type group is going to do a better job governing the domain name system. In fact, it may do far worse.
Of course, there are no guarantees either way, because ICANN has its own problems. As Esther Dyson, founding chairperson of ICANN, said in an interview for our book, Names, Numbers, and Network Solutions, “We over-regulated some stuff, and we under-regulated other stuff. We got everybody to despise us. We didn’t listen. And, unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten much better since.”
Mike Daniels, my coauthor on Names, Numbers, and Network Solutions, has been busy being interviewed in the media because of this possible shift in Internet governance. As the book describes, we were very much involved in the evolution of the domain name system and the development of ICANN and other Internet organizations, so Mike is a valuable source of information about this time in the Internet’s history.
Mike was interviewed on March 27 about governance of the domain name system by Jim Blasingame on Small Business Radio. Here are links to the three interviews:
- Internet pioneer reviews the history of Internet governance — Mike Daniels joins Jim Blasingame to report on the history and success of more than 40 years of successful Internet governance by the U.S., and why it should remain that way.
- Why transferring Internet control is a dangerous idea — Mike Daniels joins Jim Blasingame to reveal why the Obama administration’s plan to divest U.S. control of the Internet to a multi-stakeholder entity is a dangerous idea that could have disastrous results.
- What if your business couldn’t use the Internet? — Mike Daniels joins Jim Blasingame to discuss the U.S. plan to divest control of the Internet, and how the possible unintended consequences that it could create for small business.
I was recently given a proof of the front and back covers to review for my upcoming book, The SAIC Solution 2nd Edition. I am pleased with the final result. I have included copies of both covers below. When finalized, the cover will be re-posted here and on the fed.org website such that the photo image can be enlarged.
I would like to thank all the SAIC employees, past and present, who submitted photos for the front cover. If it wasn’t for all of you — and your many thousands of coworkers — SAIC wouldn’t have been the great success story that it was.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank those of you who submitted suggestions for a new subtitle for the book. There were many good suggestions. Ultimately, we decided on “Built by Employee Owners.” The old SAIC was definitely built by employee owners, and it made our company unique among government contractors. We were more entrepreneurial and less concerned about what Wall Street thought about us. Our goal was to do important work for our nation, and to earn a modest profit in the process. We consistently did both.
Thanks to Hugh Kendrick for suggesting the new subtitle, “Built by Employee Owners.” I would also like to thank Chet Laird, Bill Proffer, and Wayne Coleman for suggesting the subtitle “None of Us Is As Smart As All of Us.” While we didn’t use it for the book’s subtitle, we did use it as a tagline for the back cover.
As a reward for your contributions, I would like to extend an invitation for each of you to join me on my boat Solutions for lunch and an afternoon cruise on San Diego Bay. Please contact Ralph or leave a message on this blog to make arrangements.
I have been very pleased with the work that the Foundation for Enterprise Development is doing to promote the study of employee ownership in universities and schools of business. I think this work will provide decision makers with the hard data that they need to understand that employee ownership can have positive effects on their bottom lines and stock price.
We are also supporting other initiatives in engineering and the sciences. I have included a photo of the University of Michigan J. Robert Beyster Computational Innovation Graduate Fellows accompanied by my daughter Mary Ann Beyster (center). Chih-Chun Chia (former fellow from 2012-2013) is on the left, and Katherine Sebeck, current fellow (2013-2014) is on the right.
Applications are being reviewed now to select next year’s fellow. I wish all the applicants good luck.