|(Bethesda, MD -- August 27,
1998) More than 200 netpreneurs from around the Greater Washington Region ignored the dog
days of August to learn how Steve Walker grew Trusted Information Systems, Inc. (TIS) from
a one-person government R&D consultancy, into a 350-employee publicly held commercial
firm that recently attracted a major buy-out.
makes small companies successful is that there are large companies out there that are
willing to buy them," quipped Walker, who sold TIS to Network Associates last April
in a deal valued at $350 million.
As the centerpiece for the August 27 "Coffee &
DoughNets" a monthly series of informal networking and educational sessions
for netpreneurs Walker described the evolution of TIS and the lessons learned, from
start-up to buy-out.
As he recounted the companys early history, he noted that
sometimes success comes about through unforeseen relationships with colleagues in the
For example, the company had done some research with Bill Melton and
Dan Lynch for their start-up which eventually became CyberCash in 1994. Walker didn't
think much about it, but because TIS helped them in the beginning, they were given 2
percent founder's stock. When CyberCash went public in 1996, Walkers 100,000 shares
were worth $1.57 million, allowing TIS the collateral for a 50 cent on the dollar loan to
Other successes were more deliberate, such as those that stemmed
from Walkers real concern for people. "The most important thing you can do is
to take care of your people," advised Walker, who encouraged netpreneurs to
"build an atmosphere where the receptionist feels as important as any of the vice
Walker also urged netpreneurs to find people they can trust and put
together a Board of Directors that includes members from outside their company. Late in
the game, TIS brought on Gary Pocca, Chief Technology Officer of Platinum Technologies,
and Chuck Stein, then President and CEO of Netrix, but for too long he had had an internal
"An outside board can get you entry into other circles that you
wouldn't," explained Walker. "We missed the boat in meeting with the investor
analysts early. We missed the boat in taking advantage of what an outside board can do for
These and other lessons Walker now puts to use in his third career
as founder of Steve Walker Associates (http://www.stevewalker.com),
which provides emerging companies with expert insight on starting and developing a
business. His new firm also invests seed money in early stage Internet-related companies.
Walkers Advice for Emerging Companies
- Take care of your people.
- Dont try to do it all. Focus on what you know how to do well and find
others to do the things you dont have to do.
- Go with your gut. When you get a feeling that something is not quite right, pay
attention to it. Dont become paralyzed; act!
- Learn from your mistakes. Mistakes are opportunities.
- Get to know investor analysts early before going public. Learn how to
manage the analysts expectations.
- Get the best advice you can as early as possible.
- Do something right now about intellectual property. When youre a small
company dealing with a largeone, youre going to miss an opportunity if you
dont have the necessary patents.