We have been overwhelmed by the good wishes and wonderful stories so many of you have shared with us. For us, Doug was a great brother and son, along with being a meticulous pilot, a pioneering engineer, and a giver of time and talent.

Most importantly, thank you for your friendship and generosity at this difficult time. Doug would have wanted all of us to celebrate and embrace the life he lived – he lived it well.

The Bourn Family

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The best possible hands.

I bumped into Doug at Zilog in the late ’70s, and in ’82 when Mike Fallon, Jim Hunt and I were starting to pull together a team to start Arete, (ARIX on NASDAQ) he was at the head of our list to lead our hardware design efforts. There were ten of us in those first few months, and while our start-up had many of the typical characteristics of all start-up companies in Silicon Valley, it's people were anything but typical.

Arete set out to build the first SMP server based on microprocessors. At the heart of the system’s design was an extraordinarily difficult hardware task: to allow four CPU chips to share one common memory without bumping into each other. This was Doug’s task. At the time, gigantic companies like DEC and IBM were attempting to build similar machines, yet Doug (who was primarily working on his own on the hardware) managed to accomplish it within months rather than the years it took the competition. Thanks to Doug’s efforts, the astounding efforts of the others in that core team, and the small group that was added as the months went by, Arete was able to ship its first sever for revenue only 13 months after the founding of the company. Within a year Arete had secured major customers and started to ship Doug’s design in high volume. On the basis of this design the company succeeded, going public in 1988.

That was the summary of what happened. But, there was another wonderfully person side to the story. Each morning I would arrive at the company early, figuring you don't lead from behind. Doug was always there first. His big smile and friendly greeting was something I looked forward to each day, seven days a week, for months. His willingness to explain what he was doing, to an x-software guy, was infinite. His calm focus under tremendous pressure was astonishing. But what I'll always remember was the care and thought that he applied to how he worked on everything from electronics to the way in which he treated he teammates. Under the pressures of our task people would occasionally get a little wigged-out. Doug, with his steady manner and warm smile would just sit talking to them, stabilizing them, getting them moving again. During one particularly difficult phase Doug's boss MIke Fallon was asked by the Board of the company: “When will this thing work? Can we put some more people on this and get it done sooner?” Mike, who we’ve also lost over the last few years, calmly said: “The best thing any of us can do is stop bugging Doug and let him get the job done. It’s the the best possible hands and we’ll just screw it up by helping.”

I've no doubt that putting anything into Doug's hands was putting it into “the best possible hands.” He was a wonderful teammate and friend, one who has left a large gap behind. But then, we all knew he was filling up a tremendous amount of important and valuable space and taking wonderful care of everyone and everything in that space. Those who were ever cared for by Doug and held in those capable hands will miss him tremendously.

Beau Vrolyk
co-founder, CEO, Arete

No comments:

Post a Comment