Why I don't sell LISP software

Created 28th March, 2007 16:32 (UTC), last edited 1st September, 2007 18:08 (UTC)

Fred Ltd needs a new office. They have the land and they know of other companies who want to rent office space. Business looks good, but they haven't built anything yet.

Fred Ltd puts out a tender document for the sort of office space they need. Two applications are received.

Joe Ltd puts in a design for a fairly common “shoe box with windows” on the plot. It has everything that the people who are going to rent want and everything that Fred Ltd needs. It even has a bit of extra floorspace for new tenants. In all a good solid design that doesn't push the envelope. It'll probably be a bit over budget and a bit late, but Fred Ltd already knows that and is expecting it.

Kirit Ltd puts in two designs. One is for a soaring, beautiful building with twice the floor space of Joe Ltd's plans. Enough room for so many tenants that Fred Ltd will make a lot of profit. Kirit Ltd also puts in a design for the normal looking “shoe box” building, but at half the price. Kirit Ltd assures Fred Ltd that it is merely the more efficient use of design and build skills that gives the incredible savings.

Of course Fred Ltd's board aren't convinced. At the board meeting where they choose the contractor they of course choose Joe Ltd. It isn't that they haven't see the techniques used by Kirit Ltd anywhere else, and it isn't that they don't believe Kirit Ltd. At least not entirely…

The thing is that the only designs they've seen that use these techniques are by Sir Norman Foster. They know he can pull it off, they know that Kirit Ltd has done it in the past, but can Kirit Ltd do it this time? If it was Sir Norman Foster who'd deigned to bid for the building of course they'd have bought from him.

But who's ever heard of Kirit Ltd? Much better to go with the safe choice. They decide to take the same building built the same way as everybody else. It may not put them ahead of the competition, but they're sure it won't put them behind.

So on the next bid Kirit Ltd will quietly use some of Sir Norman Foster's techniques to make sure they underbid Joe Ltd, but they'll make sure it looks just like a normal no-risk bid.