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BUSINESS The New Computer Elite

In Dallas the Big Money Is No Longer Big Oil
By Dan Michalski |

TWENTY YEARS AGO, THE HIGH-PROFILE money moguls in Dallas were good ol’ boys in the oil business. But as oil was getting ready to go bust, a new industry was ready to boom: Computers,

Entering the 1980s, only Texas Instruments and Electronic Data Systems were major players locally in this promising yet uncertain enterprise. Now, however, dozens of new computer companies earning hundreds of millions of dollars each year have made Dallas one of the largest hubs of the computer industry. (Little-known fact: The Dallas area produces more microchips than Southern California’s Silicon Valley.)

Most of these technology merchants have their international headquarters in the shiny edifices that speckle the northern extremities of the Tollway through Piano and Central Expressway in Richardson. A handful of these young companies were started by TI defectors.

The CEOs in this industry are a new breed in the business culture, as concerned with clock speed and cache size as they are with cost projections and acquisition possibilities. For their companies to keep ahead of the pack, fast growth is important, and thus going public is on the “to do” list of almost every private computer firm we contacted.

That kind of growth means big bucks for these successful corporate leaders. Some are buying multimillion-dollar mansions in Highland Park, but most live in expansive custom homes in Dallas’ newer northern suburbs, making that area a cornerstone of the big business that is now computers. Their salaries are large, but those figures don’t reflect the vast wealth accrued through holdings in their own companies.

Here are some of the faces who make up Dallas” new computer elite:


CompuCom Systems, Inc., Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: $1.26 billion


PRESIDENT AND CEO: Edward Anderson, 48. Holds an economics degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Harvard; founded the company with its chairman, James Dixon, a sales representative and manager at IBM for 14 years.

COMPENSATION: S310,000 salary, $310,000 bonus, $609,000 stock options and moving expenses

FAST FACTS: Distributor of PC products and provider of network integration and technical help services. Founded in 1987; went public (NASDAQ) in 1987. Anderson and Dixon began by buying smaller regional computer companies. CompuCom has since grown to become one of the largest computer companies in the world. CompuCom’s stock has more than doubled since June.

Cyrix Corp., Richardson

ANNUAL REVENUES: $246 million


PRESIDENT AND CEO: Jerry Rogers, 51. Worked for 16 years at TI in a variety of positions, including vice president of the semiconductor group and manager of the microprocessor division; named inventor on 12 TI patents; Dallas/Fort Worth’s 1991 “Entrepreneur of the Year.”

COMPENSATION: $209,000 salary, $30,400 bonus

FAST FACTS: Producers of math co-processors and high-speed microprocessors. Founded in 1988; went public (NASDAQ) in 1993. Rogers co-founded the company with Tom Brightman, Cyrix research director and another TI alum, intending to compete directly against microprocessor behemoth Intel. Cyrix first received wide notoriety after releasing a chip that snaps onto 386 processors and gives them the power of 486s. Their much anticipated M1 will be released this fall and is expected to outperform Intel’s Pentium.

CompUSA Inc., Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: $2.81 billion


PRESIDENT AND CEO: James F. Halpin, 43. Veteran retailer; joined CompUSA in 1993; turned profit despite negative Wall Street predictions; sits on governing board for Junior Achievement in Dallas.

COMPENSATION: $442,000 salary

FAST FACTS: Nation’s leading chain of “superstores” for discount priced computers and computer-related products. Founded in 1984, as Soft Warehouse; went public (NASDAQ) in 1991, joined NYSE in 1992. CompUSA operates 86 superstores in 41 metropolitan areas, and has become America’s largest computer retailer.

Software Spectrum, Inc., Garland

ANNUAL REVENUES: $352.1 million


CHAIRMAN AND CEO: Judy Simms, 43. A CPA with a degree in account-ing from Texas Tech; serves on the Executive Board of SMU’s Cox School of Business and the Board of Directors for Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan Dallas.

COMPENSATION: $215,000 salary, $145,000 bonus, $20,000 stock options

FAST FACTS: Provider of software and technical services to businesses. Founded in 1983; went public (NASDAQ) in 1991. Simms co-founded the company with her husband and a friend on $40,000. Enjoyed steady growth and profits throughout the 1980s; in 1991, expanded into Europe.

Sterling Software, Inc., Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: $473.4 million


PRESIDENT AND CEO: Sterling Williams, 52. Physics and math background from Oklahoma’s East Central State University; began his career selling computers at RCA.

COMPENSATION: $650,000 salary, $400,000 bonus, $127,000 in other perks

FAST FACTS: Provider of software products and services for electronic commerce, highly technical professional services, and government agencies, including NASA. Founded in 1981, went public (AMEX) in 1983, joined NYSE in 1990. Has grown consistently since its founding, acquirtng25 companies in the process. It is one of the 10 largest software companies in the world.

Dallas Semiconductor Corp., Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: $181.4 million


CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT, AND CEO: Vin Prothro, 52, Former president and CEO of Mostek Corp., a Carrollton-based semiconductor company; spent three years at TI in operations and project management; graduated with a science degree from Stanford and an MBA from Harvard.

COMPENSATION: $490,000 salary, $309,000 bonus, $107,000 other perks

FAST FACTS: Designs, manufactures, and markets electronic chips and chip-based subsystems. Founded in 1984; went public (NASDAQ) in 1987, joined NYSE in 1990; has developed215 base products with 1,000 variations. In 1994 achieved 11th consecutive year of record net sales and eighth consecutive year of record net income.

InterVoice, Inc., Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: $76.3 million


CHAIRMAN AND CEO: Dan Hammond, 43. Graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in engineering.

COMPENSATION: $284,700 salary, $284,700 bonus, $47,000 other perks

FAST FACTS: Developer of automated voice processing, a technology that allows interaction between telephones and computers. Founded in 1983; went public (NASDAQ) in 1985. Despite warnings that mainframes were the wave of the future, Hammond and his partner invested $50,000 to create a new technology designed for PCs. In 1983, the company designed a check authorization system for Southland Corp.’s 4,000 7-Eleven stores. Inter Voice now controls 9 percent of the automated voice market, making it the leader of the field’s 150 companies.

Affiliated Computer Services, Inc., Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: $313.2 million


CHAIRMAN AND CEO: Darwin Deason, 55. Previously CEO at MTech, a profitable data-processing company.

COMPENSATION: $435,000 salary, $788,000 bonus

FAST FACTS: Provider of information technology solutions and computer outsourcing for commercial, financial, and government operations; owner of MoneyMaker, one of the largest ATM networks in the country. Founded in 1988; went public (NASDAQ) in 1994, When the bank holding company MCorp sold MTech to EDS in 1988, Deason retired on the $10 million he received for his minority share in the firm. After three days of retirement, he began raising money to start his new company.

NetWorth, Inc., living



CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT, AND CEO: John McHale, 38. Formerly a lead engineer at TI; heroes include Troy Aikman and Herb Kelleher.

COMPENSATION: $168,750 salary

FAST FACTS: Producer of networking equipment. Founded in 1985; went public (NASDAQ) in 1992. Ranked 61st on Fortune’s list of 100 Fastest-Growing Companies in the nation and fifth on Texas Business Journal’s list of 100 Fastest-Growing Companies in the state. The company was started on $8,000 drawn on McHale’s MasterCard.

Olicom USA, Inc., Plano



COO: Max Jensen, 48. Former vice president of marketing for Compaq; came to Olicom in 1990 to help launch the U.S. subsidiary of the Danish company in 1991.

COMPENSATION: Unknown. Danish law does not require disclosure.

FAST FACTS: Producer of software and hardware for Ethernet services and Local Area Networks (LANs). Founded in 1985; went public (NASDAQ) in 1992. Olicom is considered a leader in the networking faction of the computer industry. Key to its success has been the establishment of working relationships and technology exchanges with companies such as TI, Intel, and Novell.

Convex Computer Corp., Richardson

ANNUAL REVENUES: $144.1 million


CHAIRMAN AND CEO: Robert Paluck, 47. Graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Illinois and was named Distinguished Alumnus in 1988; received his MBA from Southern Methodist University, which presented him with the Outstanding Entrepreneurship Award in 1987.

COMPENSATION: $240,000 salary

FAST FACTS: Makers of supercomputers, tape storage, and UNIX software for scientific, engineering, and technical users. Founded in 1982; went public (NYSE) in 1986. Convex made its name landing major contracts and embarking on technology exchanges with companies like Hewlett Packard and Ford.

Merit Studios, Inc., Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: $4.2 million


PRESIDENT AND CEO: Jack Irons, 51. Played football at UTEl Paso; graduated with a degree in engineering before receiving his MBA from the University of North Texas; spent most of his career as an investor in oil and real estate.

COMPENSATION: $90,000 salary

FAST FACTS: Makers of entertainment and educational multimedia software, including Cyberjudas and Tom Landry Strategy Football. Founded in 1988 as Merit Acquisition Corp.; went public (NASDAQ) in 1993. Irons set out to invest in software development and publishing companies, but he soon redirected the company’s objectives by establishing its own publishing and distribution operations.


OpenConnect Systems, Inc., Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: $30.6 million


PRESIDENT AND CEO: Gary Hegna, 48. Former head of ICC North America, an international manufacturer of computer systems and telecommunications equipment; has been CEO at OpenConnect since 1992.

FAST FACTS: Producers of customized business hardware and software that allows computers to interact, even if they run on different operating systems. Founded in 1982, as Mitek Systems. Since joining the company, Hegna has put OpenConnect on the Dallas Business Journal’s list of the 50 fastest-growing technology companies three years in a row.

Paradigm Simulation, Inc., Dallas



PRESIDENT: Ron Toupal, 36. Former manager ofC31 test-bed laboratory at Lockheed Missiles and Space; oversaw development of visual simulation tools at Merit Technologies.

FAST FACTS: Provider of software products for development of real-time 3D simulation and virtual reality. Founded in 1990. Paradigm produces virtual reality software for both the Army and the Navy. Their products now sell to commercial and entertainment markets as well.

Antrim Corp., Piano

ANNUAL REVENUES: $23 million


CHAIRMAN: Dick Brink, 49. Former EDS systems developer, member of the Dallas Health Industry Council.

FAST FACTS: Provider of medical software for laboratories. Founded in 1982, Antrim has grown slowly and steadily Looking to go public soon, but waiting for the health care industry to stabilize.

id Software, Inc., Mesquite

ANNUAL REVENUES: $10 million


CO-OWNER AND BUSINESS MANAGER: Jay Wilbur, 34. Computer scientist from Rhode Island; gained expenence working for a variety of small software developers in Shreveport, La.

FAST FACTS: Creators of megahit 3-D games, including DOOM and DOOM II, recently named by PC Gamer as the “Best Game of All-Time.” Founded in 1991. Wilbur officially joined three 20isb computer programmers in 1992 to help them take their company out of a single room in a small home and make it one of the most popular game producers. The company’s game is marketed and distributed over the Internet.

Advanced Network Technologies, Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: $3.6 million


CEO: Roland Jarvis, 47. Previously an Army officer helicopter pilot, and magician; recently served as President of the Dallas Business Association.

FAST FACTS: Provider of high-end computer equipment and systems integration services. Founded in 1984. After abandoning a computer company he started in the Middle East, Jarvis founded ANT on $25,000 in savings and money withdrawn on a credit card. The company really took off five years ago, as computer networks became more common in the workplace. The company grew 600 percent in two years, and recently opened a second office in Houston.

Lucid Corp., Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: less than $10 million


CEO: Mark Lambright, 42. Graduated with degree in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, and has an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania; serves on national board of American Electronics Association.

FAST FACTS: Producer of software for palmtop computers, also known as Personal Digital Assistants. Founded in 1983. Began as a software supplier for the first notebook computer, the Tandy Model 100. The company is best known for its Lucid 3-D spreadsheet.

One Up Corp., Westlake



PRESIDENT AND CEO: Richard Dews, 32. Graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in computer science; spent five years at IBM developing OS/2.

FAST FACTS: Provider of training and consulting for businesses running applications on IBMs OS/2; distributor of SMART software that allows companies to convert operating systems more easily. Founded in 1991. After leaving IBM, Dews and a friend founded Infinity Software (in Las Colinas). Nine months later, the friend fired Dews, who then launched One Up.

S2 Systems, Inc., Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: $70.6 million


PRESIDENT: Robert Lund, 51. Served as chairman and CEO of International Telecharge and president of the payment systems division of EDS.

FAST FACTS: Provider of business applications software and systems consulting. Founded in 1994 as a merger between Shared Financial Systems, a provider of on-line applications, and Scientific Software, Inc., a maker of high-performance communications and connectivity products. The company is an independent subsidiary of Massachussetts-based Stratus Computer, Inc.

DacEasy, Inc., Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: $20 million


PRESIDENT AND CEO: Kevin Howe, 46. Graduated with degrees in business and speech from Northwest State University; received MBA from SMU; named Arthur Young and Venture Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1987.

FAST FACTS: Producer of accounting software. Founded in 1985. DacEasy became well known for high-quality, affordable accounting software in 1985 after launching DacEasy Accounting at the then-unheard of price of $50. The company was bought in 1991 by The SageGroup.theEnglish-basedfirmthatisthe largest PC accounting software publisher in the world.

MetaSolv Software, Inc., Dallas

ANNUAL REVENUES: $1.2 million


PRESIDENT AND CEO: Jim lanicki, 40. Graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Computer Information Systems; spent 10 years as a manager at TI.

FAST FACTS: Producer of an alternative to packaged software (called templates) that allows multiple computers to run applications and pull information off one central system. Founded in 1992. With a 921 percent revenue increase between fiscal years 1993 and 1994, MetaSolv is the fastest-growing company in the high-tech industry.

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