The Macro Picture
November 1 1996 by Michael T Harris
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, the saying goes. In many ways, that maxim holds true for John C. “Bud” Colligan, an Apple alumni now running software company Macromedia. Indeed, he borrowed some of his former company’s “playful” corporate culture-including an Apple-like slide employees use to get from the third floor to the second and some “George Jetson” office furniture and cubicles. However, Colligan also has made sure not to import what he sees as Apple’s weaknesses: lack of measurement, execution, and follow-through.
“Apple was slow to develop a strategy, very focused around launch events, and one-time things,” says Colligan, who joined Apple in 1983 to help launch the Macintosh computer and grow the company’s higher-education marketing efforts. “Someone would say, ‘OK, we did that. Let’s go on to the next thing.’ You can’t do that in this business.”
A lesson well-learned, apparently. Today, Macromedia Chairman Colligan, 42, is riding the hot multimedia market, measuring everything from sales by product to returns from distributors, and watching his company grow 50 percent a year. San Francisco-based Macromedia is currently the market leader in building cross-platform software tools for Web publishing, multimedia, and graphics. In the area of multimedia authoring, for example, Macromedia has about an 80 percent share of a combined Windows and Macintosh illustration market predicated to be worth $290.1 million, according to IDC. Analysts estimate the market will hit $493.2 million by 2000.
Formed in April 1992 by the merger of Authorware (where Colligan had been president and chief executive since 1989) and MacroMind/Paracomp, Macromedia has been growing partly by gobbling up several niche software companies to gain product and expertise. Cherlynn Blatter, securities analyst for New York-based Punk, Ziegel & Knoell, expects the company to notch around $109 million in revenues for fiscal year 1996 and double that figure by 1998. Market cap currently is around $1.4 billion.
In addition, Macromedia is starting to work with record labels to add interactive media to audio CDs. Macromedia aims to be to the multimedia market what MetroGoldwyn-Mayer was to the old Hollywood, says Colligan, who doesn’t boast any La-La Land connections, but did grow up in Glendale, CA. “We want to be the company people think of when they think of digital media, whether animation, graphics, or sound.”
Colligan strongly emphasizes marketing and a brand awareness focus; in fact, the company requires titles publishers to carry his “Made With Macromedia” seal of excellence on all their commercial titles.
In terms of the Internet, the executive certainly has his hands full with the 250,000-and growing-World Wide Web sites. “The impact of the Internet is just beginning,” Colligan says, “and the market will really jump when the issues of bandwidth and modem speed are solved-maybe by the turn of the century.
“With the Internet, we are at the dawn of a new era, one just as important as that of the telephone, television, or even the printing press,” Colligan says. “It has opened the floodgates of competition, because it is perceived to be a new platform with a more level playing field than the Windows, Macintosh, or even UNIX platform. But it does require some new ways of thinking.”