Lotus Development Corporation
Electronic Commerce (eCommerce)
Good morning. Can everybody hear me?
How about now? Yes? OK. I'm always leery about turning on these portable microphones before keynotes like this. How many people have seen Naked Gun, the movie? Show of hands. I've always had this fear, ever since I've seen that movie, that I'd go to the little boy's room to take care of biology and treat everybody to the sound effects, so I tend to turn this stuff on at the last possible second, so bear with me while we get started here. I want to talk to you about the continuing evolution of what has become the ubiquitous dial tone, in many respects, for our industry: the all-pervasive Internet. I want to talk about it in the context of some of the things that we leaders and participants in this industry should be expecting of our involvement in this all-important new paradigm. There's a lot of myths and a lot of misconceptions, but there's also a lot of facts and a lot of real value, and I want to try to explode some of the former and confirm some of the latter for you. I'm going to try to do that and simultaneously avoid using up your time with a Lotus commercial, so I'm going to do this at somewhat of a meta level, and I promise not to make it too Cambridge-centric.
First of all, all of this technology, for all of the hyperbole, in some respects, and for all of the wonder of the era that we all have the benefit of participating in, we have to remember the days about productivity. And as an industry, although it's a little bit self-deprecating to admit it, we've not always delivered on the value propositions that we've espoused as vendors, and we increase our percentage of skeptics -- with good reason. If you think about this in logical terms, a lot of the larger ROIs generated by our industry happened in the more pedestrian -- some would argue "boring" -- periods when we were automating back office tasks and things like general ledger systems, and a lot of the evolution that's taken place we'll talk about later in things like front office productivity, haven't provided the same kinds of returns. In fact, this is one of my favorite quotes from Scott McNeely. For those of you that know him, it's very Scott-like. People inherently understand now -- at least, Scott understands -- that a thirteen-column, fourteen-piece or a fourteen-color, fourteen-font piece of clip art, word processing document is inherently counterproductive. Sometimes, we've created technology to the point where we've simply increased the expectations or expanded the tasks that we put in front of our office user, and we realize, in fact, negative productivity. It's even more self-deprecating to admit that standing here is the CEO of Lotus, which participates in a $4 billion office suite industry, but I haven't had too many of you come up to me lately and beg me for another talking paper clip in 1-2-3, and yet, we build them.
At the same time, Forbes has recently been quoted as saying that there's a great deal of technology for technology's sake in America today, and even though the people that write the silicon programs and write the software that support this iteration don't like to hear it. A lot of this technology appears to be there for technology's sake, and it's not really clear what the intent or where the real business benefit is. There's some truth to that, of course. This has become a big industry. It's not a cottage business anymore, and there's a certain competitive frame of reference and a certain self-governing set of economics that affect everything we do. In fact, in 1997, for the first time, we're talking about a trillion dollar business with more than 130 million wired users. And yet, the productivity paradox in all of this is that last year in the United States alone, forty percent of the capital investments by business were in information technology. Forty percent of all of the expenditures for infrastructure, inclusive of things like manufacturing, in one variant or another, went into information technology. And it's not purely a US-centric phenomenon. If you look at Japan, which is another relevant benchmark economy, last year, as an example, twenty-seven percent of the growth in the gross domestic product was reinvested in information technology.
So, people have a right to expect some pretty big returns, particularly given the notoriety of the public consciousness associated now with the growth of network-centric computing and the Internet. And it's the advent of this network-centric period that's really continuing to drive the preponderance of our industry's growth. Twenty-four percent compounded annual growth this year on a trillion dollar basis point, compared with a flattening -- by our industry's standards, anyway. Other industries might be perfectly happy with this. But a seven percent growth in what we would traditionally characterize as our traditional computing paradigms, which include things like our host-based systems, which my parent company has some interest in.
It's the Internet, obviously, I think, to everybody here, that has really catalyzed the greatest growth -- in almost any way that you quantify it, by the way. If you think about it in terms of physical devices, it's up seventy-nine percent, year over year. If you think about it in terms of connector to wired users to the point of the earlier statement, it's growing at about fifty-nine percent annually, and that's happening pretty much globally. Whether we're talking about Southeast Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, it's pretty much the same. It's happening in Japan. It's happening in South America. Pretty much universally. You really can't find a relevant economy of any significant scale where the numbers come out significantly different. The number of Internet-centric buyers -- "commerce," in other words -- is also growing at sixty-four percent, but as this particular graph depicts, for much, much more modest basis points. In fact, one of the first myths I'd like to explode -- and we'll talk about this a little bit later -- is we're involved in an era where much of what we hear about relative to the Internet and the Web is, in fact, about commerce. Much of that is about consumer commerce. The prevalent example that I always hear is amazon.com, or the etrade capabilities that companies like Squab are offering to retail consumers. But as we'll see later, the real growth is not in consumer commerce. It's in business-to-business commerce, and it's still reasonably conservative today.
It's helpful, I think, to put all of this in some context and talk a little bit about where we've come from. George, in his opening introductions, mentioned we've spent the last seventeen years sort of living through some of these transitions. We have the benefit of participating -- all of us -- in an industry where things happen in pretty rapid succession, and most of us have lived through all of these phases. As I said earlier, we went through a period of back office automation, where the focus was on big systems. It was the advent of big iron, the mainframe. Codicil and hierarchial databases gave way to things like relational database systems, and that was the big argument. It seems absolutely crazy to think about it today, retrospectively, but it wasn't that long ago they really were substantive debates.
That period, where we saw sixty-odd ROIs exhibited, gave way to a focus in the '80s on the front office. It was born with the advent of the killer application, i.e., the spreadsheet, initially Visicalc, and -- to toot Lotus's horn for just a second -- 1-2-3. But as I said, we didn't net the same kinds of returns. In fact, it's debatable whether there really was any significant and material ROI derived through this entire period, although none of us would want to go back to the period pre- that PC explosion. I can still remember the day a Time magazine arrived on my desk with a picture of Steve Jobs -- who, at the time, was a twenty-year old -- on the cover, and the enormous excitement that all of us felt at that time when killer applications like the spreadsheet made the personal computer era explode onto the scene, and the tremendous things that we learned we would soon do with these very small, comparatively modest machines.
We're in an entirely different period now, what I would characterize as the virtual office, and a lot of our more dated -- frankly, our more antiquated or quaint -- definitions of things like the office, the workgroup, and the enterprise are crumbling around this notion of extranets and what I'll later define as market-basing systems as we enter this virtual network space born out of the Web that gives us a capacity to deal in much more virtual terms. But since all of this has happened pretty quickly -- and I don't want to just speak at you for the entire forty-five minutes here -- I've brought along a little video clip we put together which gives us just a very quick cinematic recap of the history and the birth of the Internet, which I'm going to share with you if my multimedia doesn't fail me here.
(wildly funny "History of the Internet" video is shown)
OK. Our apologies to Monty Python and the manufacturers of Spam. The point is, a lot's happened. A lot of things happened in a very collapsed and very condensed period of time, although it's almost difficult at this point to remember the period that we all lived in pre- the Internet, but it's systemically changed our industry forever. But what's really happening? We talk about the forward march of the Internet and the Web. What specifically are we doing with it?
Well, not too surprisingly, we're doing the sort of pedestrian things that provide the most common, everyday benefits, most substantially email and later-generation forms of messaging or retrieving information. We're still doing a lot of surfing. We're still doing a lot of browsing. It's become a major source of competitive information for companies of every size and nature, if nothing else. There's a lot of educational services. It has become a transport vehicle for the physical movement of digital media like software. But a lot of this is still evolving. I'm going to talk about how a lot of this will change, but I want to begin by talking to you about the convergence of what we see, at least in Cambridge, as three pretty fundamental technologies. Messaging -- and by "messaging," I mean second generation client server-based email, in it's simplest form, products like Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange or GroupWise or perhaps others. Groupware, which is just a current industry buzzword, sort of invented with the birth of Lotus Notes, but carrying on today, is simply a monitor for a class of document rather than data-centric, knowledge-based applications that typically follow a much more rapid application development environment where messaging and workflow is the primary construct or transportation vehicle, and ultimately, the Web.
Now, the value in these things goes up disproportionately as we merge these technologies more and more seamlessly. The dirty little secret, if you will, or the reality, is that the cost of supporting this type of topology and the mission-critical nature of the applications and the uses and applications of these three technologies will become so critical that we're simply not going to invest in separate substrates in order to deploy this stuff broadly throughout our enterprises. It's an oxymoron, in my mind, to think of these things as independent buying decisions or independent deployment challenges for lots of pretty obvious reasons.
It wasn't all that long ago in the filesharing days with products like Microsoft Mail and cc:Mail and others that messaging became a primary transportation vehicle for attachments. We'd attach a word processing file or a presentation graphics file like the one I'm using today, and they became the carrier pigeon, if you will, for our messages. The average size of a message over the last thirty-six months has grown on average from 4K to 26K, and the reasons that's happening is it's all user-driven and user-derived, and as these become the carrier pigeons, as I said, for these larger and larger object types and we become more and more network-centric, we have to be very concerned about where that's taking the infrastructure.
With the advent of groupware, messaging no longer became the transport, but the document, in fact, has now become the central container for a richer and richer class of business objects. Initially, it was things like multiple fonts and colors. Now, it's graphics, sound, and video, and as more and more of those more complex business objects become reposited in those documents and we share that more liberally, the richness of our information-sharing experience will go up disproportionately, but if the infrastructure's not there to support it, we're ultimately going to fail.
Now, the most ubiquitous object of all has become the URL. We simply click on an identifier in a document and get launched to the wealth of data that's identified as part of the Internet and the World Wide Web. We simply can't separate these things, and I don't think we can separate the notion. But for all of the hype, when we think about the evolution of what's happened in the last eighteen months, it breaks down into two basic categories: what I would describe as e-presence and what I will later describe -- as the iteration we're moving into -- as e-business.
In the e-presence category, it's as I said: it's a lot about surfing. It's pretty much a hundred percent awareness or usage of that particular paradigm. It's a lot about the creation of physical presence, what I'll later describe as static- or brochure-ware. We simply create an external commercial presence outside of our firewall we call a Web page, or we create an intranet where we post policies and other things for employee consumption, but there's nothing very interactive about that class of applications.
There's a much more interactive class of applications being evolved, but there've been major impediments to deploying that, like security, and a lot of the standards which we've later become more religious about, like HTTP or IIOP or SSL or a whole list of other acronyms that we could all repeat and likely give each other a headache with. But, we're quickly moving into that second iteration. It's no longer about static HTTP servers. It's about collaboration and commerce. But several things have to really unfold in pretty ubiquitous ways for this to be the prevalent model. In the first world, we had very centralized Web-based development. We had a couple of graphic design artists and a bunch of people that thought in HTML terms get in a room and create physical Web sites or Web pages. As the information becomes more important, as it becomes more dynamic, we need far more distributed authoring capabilities.
To use Lotus as an example, we have a Web page. It's probably not the best [hey! - ed.], but it is large and is complex. It's more than a hundred and thirty thousand pages. That's created and maintained by fifty-two different databases spread around the world from Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo to Mountainview, California, and ultimately Cambridge. All of those are authored as documents -- In our case, obviously, in Notes -- dynamically translated to HTML because as much as we hate to admit it, most of us don't get out of bed in the morning and jump up and start writing and regurgitating in HTML just yet. We've all pretty much been educated in a document-centric medium.
The important thing is, we need to be able to filter, screen, and post all that information dynamically on that highly-distributed basis and have it not look like a patchwork quilt coming out the other end. And it's not, in all fairness, just products like Notes and Domino that provide that capability today. It will be prevalent. But that distributed authoring capability is critical. As we have a need for greater and greater percentages of our workforce to contribute to those extranets and intranets in terms of the dynamic nature of that content, we have to understand the importancy of the latency of that information, which means, by default, that the principal computing vehicle will be the laptop, and the allowance, or in fact, I would argue, the optimization, for an occasionally-connected computing metaphor becomes absolutely critical. And it's something that we're very accustomed to, but it's not the way the world works generally.
I'll tell you a little story. I've told this before, so some of you may have heard this, but it's so pertinent that I'm going to use it again. I was in Tokyo several months ago now, and like everybody, went to the Red Carpet Lounge at Norita, my case, being a Class A personality, replicated with the servers in Cambridge to get a bunch of information, because I'd received a page indicating that there was a bunch of competitive information on Microsoft's Web site about somenew ActiveX developments that I needed to consume. So, no problem. I replicated. I stored the information. Got on the plane. We eventually got to altitude and tolerated the meal service, and everybody got their work out, and I was using a Think Pad like I am today, and as it happened, the gentleman to my immediate left is also using an IBM Think Pad. Happened to be using Microsoft Word, so we weren't having much of a conversation, but that's OK.
In any case, I opened Lotus Notes and looked at my Web database and was reviewing all of these Microsoft HTML pages to get a sense of what had been posted on their Web site that day, and I'm getting a really strange look from the guy to my left, and I remember thinking, 'Boy, this is going to be a really long flight if he wants to have a big conversation about this.' And finally, with a completely straight face, he looks at me and he says, "You know, I have one of those Think Pads, too." And I said, "That's nice." He says, "I had no idea that the infrared device in the back of that was so powerful you could connect to a Web page!" And since he was using Microsoft Word, I decided to have a little fun with him, so I immediately said, "Well, you have to have a window seat, actually. And if there's any kind of turbulence, you can have some problems, but most of the time, it's not too bad, so you should get in the habit of booking window seats."
As much fun as I had with the poor guy, I remember thinking later it's sort of obvious is this kind of occasionally-connected Web information management vehicle or sort of paradigm was to me, that's not the way that everybody lives. But that's going to be the place we have to get to if we're going to have dynamic enough information to really make this interactive period of much more collaborative applications, the killer applications of the Web as opposed to the static publishing or simple surf and consumption metaphor. And I think it's going to happen.
So, we're talking about the era of what I've taken to describe as "market facing systems." And by that, I mean we're going to get beyond our earlier, more crude notions of just Internets and static information, and we are going to create digitally-powered connections to every facet of our consumer and our market presence and customer interaction through this class of highly interactive, more collaborative application development. It's not about fancy Web sites. It's about much more interactive work. And I think you're going to see it become much, much more prevalent. Ultimately, of course, we're talking about commerce, but as I said earlier, there's a lot of misconception. The consumer end of the e-commerce phenomenon, while it's large, is projected to grow by the end of the decade to something on the order of about $11 or $12 billion. It's not insignificant. We shouldn't ignore it. But it pales by comparison to the business-to-business opportunity, which will get into the $150 billion range by the end of this same decade.
All of the prior impediments -- the advent of these occasionally-connected computing models and the principal issues surrounding security -- have by and large been solved today. Yeah, there's some latency to some of the resolutions, and there's some issues yet, but with the advent of the cyber cash and the SET payment structures and standards, we've got a real opportunity to really capitalize on this collectively. It is actually safer today to conduct e-commerce over the Internet than it is to hand your credit card to a waiter or a waitress in a restaurant, because we can separate the physical transaction encoding from your physical identity, encapsulate it, and encrypt it.
So, there's a lot of things I think we can expect to see coming, and the companies that seize the high ground, that take advantage of these coming technologies are going to have tremendous competitive advantage, and those that do not are going to be summarily disadvantaged. But I don't think that this is going to go through the polarization that is sometimes described currently where we're going to have one great big digital coup and disintermediate every part of the value chain. I think that's nonsense, personally. A lot of this value chain economics in our industry is as much a social instrument of the marketplaces we participated in as it is technology-based. And there are good examples -- I'll tell you about one later -- of companies in the distribution SIC codes that are reintermediating, if you will, andinstructing and enforcing new value because of the use of these technologies as opposed to going away. I don't think all of our grandparents are going to download all of their Rolling Stones cuts and eliminate Tower Records. I just don't think it's going to happen.
But, you hear enough industry hype, you sometimes believe it. I also think that as we get into this period of market facing systems and of much more collaborative, interactive, Web-based applications, we're going to enter full-force a period where there'll be an enormous premium on the way we construct, create, and deal with knowledge management. Intellectual capital will be the principal currency. So, information and know-how will be systematically captured, reapplied, and disbursed throughout our companies. To do that, we need the tools to create it systemically. You're not going to cross-pollinate in the way that you ultimately would choose to unless it becomes sort of a second nature derivative of the way we work, and the tools are not quite there today. I think we're getting there, particularly as we become more and more messaging- and more and more Web-centric. The applications that we use are going to have to go beyond the static class of applications again, and we're going to have to have the infrastructures and the topologies in place and be networked globally to share and distribute the information widely.
So, let me give you a couple of examples. Nokia is a company who had a chief knowledge officer, which is the first sort of telling statement about this particular organization, because they thought that significantly of the function to make it a senior management initiative. But they operationalized the notion of what they call "democratizing strategy." They wanted a more inclusive process; they wanted broader participation, because this particular company happens to be a very large conglomerate that needs information from many different facets and many different geographies in the market in order to build the plans and they dynamic-enough basis to have them mean anything when they start operationalizing them. So, they used a team room, or a collaborative experience, in order to create a thing called a Future Watch Project, where more than thirty different databases were spread around the world and captured the relevant information on what people were seeing in business climate and forecast and competitive information, and ultimately created a teamroom for the board of directors which aggregated all of this information on a monthly basis, so that when the outside directors -- this is a large $30-plus billion public organization -- got into the planning cycle, everybody had the same contextual information. And it led to the construction of what they called the Future Watch experience, which made for this inclusive period in this broad knowledge management and knowledge sharing experience that they were looking for. But there are others.
There's a company called QCS -- it's actually a much smaller company, it was founded just about four or five years ago -- that deals with this notion of disintermediation. This is a company that services about fifteen percent of the world's largest retailers, companies like Harrod's and Walmart, the real big retailers, which, by the way, is about a $1.7 trillion industry this year, from a US perspective. All of that, at the end of the day, generates about a $70 billion bottom line, so the margins here are razor thin. A great deal of the cause and effect relationship between the enormity of the retail industry from a revenue perspective and the net margin contribution that gets generated in terms of the return to shareholders is all about the physical movement of inventory, good or bad buying decisions, waste, transport, freight, getting information to retailers, time commensurate with their promotions, et cetera, et cetera. They created a just-in-time inventory system which pre-qualifies suppliers and reduces non-performing industry inventory by creating a groupware catalog that shares this kind of knowledge broadly. And the real value to the retailers wasn't in the technology as much as it was in the quality of the suppliers that QCS was able to aggregate. So, they get a great many more people participating in a bidding process. They have a lot more on-hand knowledge about the historic performance criteria of those particular suppliers, which leads to much more competitive purchases and fewer mistakes and failure to deliver commensurate with all of the things that necessarily get the products to market. So, there's a lot going on, but a lot of it evolves around this notion of this second iteration of this all-important Web machine that we're dealing with.
There's one very, very fundamental piece of this, which is Java. I'm going to make a request here. I'm going to just sort of issue a challenge, if you will. Everybody in this room needs to be involved in this. We're on the eve of a very, very critical period where we're either going to succeed creating a real application renaissance by building another standard platform for application development in Web-centric terms, which really gives us a write-once, run-anywhere application paradigm, or we're going to fall on our face. There's not going to be a whole hell of a lot in between. And we're in a period where we've had better than ever statistics to back up the growing importance of this, so we have a more than average opportunity to succeed here. Java developers are multiplying rapidly, more than 750,000 engineers writing as a primary design center in Java today.
IBM and Lotus, for one, probably represent one of the largest commercial Java development organizations today. We've got more than 3,000 engineers working in Java completely. And we're doing fundamentally important work with all of the Java-based initiatives. We're creating new applications. We're extending existing ones. We're extending our intranet to our partners and our customers because by writing in Java, we can write applications without having to foresee all of the vagaries of he operating system stacks and platforms that they might need to cross boundaries around as we get things outside of our firewalls. It will be as important as a dimension of what we're doing with network computers going forward. But, again, there's a lot of conjecture, a lot of polarization, and a lot of myth here that I think's important to begin to understand.
First of all, from my perspective, this has nothing whatsoever to do with physical devices. This is not part of a growing debate between Scott and Larry or Bill or anybody else in the industry around PCs versus NCs. And the absurdly polarized perscriptives that are in the industry pervasively now that would lead you to believe that PCs are these inherently evil, insidiously expensive devices, and NCs are going to save us a complete total cost of ownership iteration and change the industry is ridiculously polarized as I'm making them sound. And if PCs are that inherently problematic, based on the market capitalizations of Intel and Microsoft, anyway, you're buying an awful lot of this really evil stuff. And my bet is, you're going to continue to do so, because there's a tremendous amount of power, independence and assets tied upin that whole iteration. Neither is this an argument centered around silicon or chip sets. This is not about Pentium versus RISC or the power PC. In fact, the truth is, although I don't think it's widely understood, Intel is doing a great deal to support this Java migration, not just in the Pentium IIs, but in the new chip set development that's going on that'll hit the marketplace at the end of 1998.
You know, there's nothing from Intel's perspective problematic about a Java standpoint. This is not part of this Wintel monopoly that sometimes gets ascribed with a broad brush to both Intel and Microsoft. In fact, I would imagine from Andy Grove's perspective, although I haven't had this conversation, if Java were modestly less efficient than C++ in the short term when we burned a few more calories and bought a few more chip sets, he's probably not going to be all that bothered. So, I think it's another misnomer, frankly. More to the point, we are to all understand vividly at this point the tremendous benefits we have all realized currently in the here and the now because of the more religious adherence to on-the-wire protocols, HTTP and IIOP and SSL and NNTP and the like. So, this is not just about devices or silicon, and it's not about object brokers, either. This is not about DCOM versus CORBA. And frankly, it would be incredibly naive to believe for five minutes that either DCOM is going to go away and Microsoft's going to raise a white flag over it, or that CORBA's going to go away. That's nonsense.
However, there is one very critical protocol still at play, and that's the protocol that deals with the way we handle what I think will be a growing complexity in the interrelationships of remote objects in our application models. So, if the on-the-wire protocols create the standard wire, if you will, this is, in a sense, the plug or the socket. And all I'm saying here, very simply, is rather than argue about DCOM or CORBA, we ought to define the semantics of the workings of those object models in pure Java so that we can write once and run anywhere across object models, and it's a completely possible, completely manageable task if the vendor behavior does not become equally polarized and screw it up. And when I said you need to actively participate, you need to make it clear to Lotus and to Microsoft and to Sun and to others, because you ultimately get to vote with your checkbooks that that's a mode of operation that you're going to be less tolerant of. And I think you can get us there. And there's good proof statements of this along the way. Microsoft and Lotus issued joint announcements three weeks ago supporting the same calendaring and free time search standards over the Internet. There's good collaboration with Netscape. There's good collaboration with Redmond. It's not as cottage-like or immature as it's sometimes been.
Now, on the client side, there's another iteration that we need to deal with. It's the advent of the application foundation class libraries versus the Java foundation class libraries. If we polarize this at the client in any more extreme sense than I'm suggesting, we need to avoid with the object brokers, we've got some of the same problems. Now, to be completely fair and even-handed about this -- and I've had this conversation with Bill Gates two or three times in the past couple months -- Microsoft is not being counterproductive here. They simply want to avoid a least common denominator approach to the way we optimize our use of a desktop-centric environment that's obviously extremely Windows-centric, and is going to be. But there' s a way to have our cake and eat it too, here, if we can merge what we're doing with the foundation classes so that we're neither operating at a level of least common denominator here or polarizing it in such extreme ways that we end up with the write-once, test-everywhere development scenario. And I think it really can be avoided. But again, you're going to have to participate. Now, all of this might sound a little bit larger than life, and given some of the prevalent vendor behavior in our business over the years, it might seem a lot to ask. But I think that the value return for all of us will be well worth the effort. So, I ask you to get deliberately and proactively engaged, because if we're willing to sort of reach beyond the limits of our imagination, really incredible things can be done.
I'm going to share with you a little sound clip. We recently sponsored a small group of climbers that made an attempt to scale Mt. Everest. And when the people that run marketing at Lotus came to me and said they wanted to do this, it was right after the last group of climbers came off the mountain with fewer of their friends and fewer of their digits. So, from a public relations standpoint, it felt pretty risky. I wasn't entirely sure why we wanted to do this. And then I met the people that were directly involved, the gentleman pictured here, a guy by the name of Alan Hobson and his compatriot, a guy by the name of Jamie Clark. Absolutely incredible people. They'd been up Mt. Everest three times when the came to us, and failed in all three attempts to reach the summit.
The last attempt, two years previous to this one, 1,500 feet from the summit when altitude sickness -- remember, Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, and we're talking about 28,000 feet of altitude, -- one of the biggest challenges other than the weather and the ice and all of the obvious pitfalls of gravity, is breathing. And Alan Hobson had fallen victim to that altitude sickness and lay in the snow, literally dying, drowning in his own body fluids, his lungs filling up. Went through a satellite telephone link. They connected Alan to his two daughters back on Ottawa, Canada, and his seven-year-old girl reminded him of a promise he'd made to come home, which literally gave him, I think, the mental sustenance and the courage he needed to get up and get off the mountain. And yet, two years later, the same guy, physically recovered, having trained physically for two more years, wanted to make another attempt on the mountain. So, we ended up sponsoring, along with another Notes business partner, Colliers International. And as you'll hear in a moment, in May of this year, they successfully scaled Mt. Everest and replicated a message back to the Lotus community from Mt. Everest, through -- to prove my portable point -- Mt. Everest. So, let me just play the sound bite for you.
... copy? Over.
We copy you loud and clear. This is Dave at Base Camp, Alan. Do you copy? Over.
Alan here. Friday, 23rd May, nine AM. (inaudible) the dream is done. Over.
Alan, we are so happy for you! We are so proud of you! Congratulations, my friend. You deserve it. This has been a long time coming.
All I'd like to say is, if you're persistent enough, you can do the dream. Love to you all, and love to everybody who believes the dream. Over.
Anyway, it was quite a story. Suffice it to say that on May 23, both Jamie and Alan made it to the summit on Mt. Everest where they planted the Lotus flag for us, which we now have hanging in Cambridge.
The point is, we are living in an absolutely incredible period and, I think, are part of the most exciting, dynamic, and rewarding industry on the planet. We have a tremendous opportunity to benefit personally and professionally, and we really can change the way people deal with information and the way people work, but we've all got to be actively engaged. We've all got to believe that we can set goals and limits for ourselves that might at first seem a little bit Herculean, but I think if we take that kind of approach and deal with the kind of people I know populate this audience as well as Mt. Everest, I'm sure we can get it done. Thank you very much.
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