CEO

CEO

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Kurtzig, Sandra L. | Parker, Tom W. W. Norton & Company, 1994
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IN THIS SUMMARY

Although CEO is a true story, it reads like a novel. Kurtzig and Parker bring her character to life. Kurtzig’s life is full of suspense and that suspense is conveyed throughout. Each chapter title attracts attention-setting the mood, arousing curiosity, and establishing a humorous tone. Humor seems to be one of Kurtzig’s strong points and a characteristic that we think is a critical factor in her success. Kurtzig’s curiosity about computers began during her sophomore year at UCLA. After graduating, she got a job with GE Computer Time-Sharing Service in Teaneck, New Jersey. Her first account was Bell Labs. Kurtzig saw the potential in the account: Everyone at Bell Labs could benefit from direct access to a computer. However, she did too well-in addition to interfering with GE’s mainframe sales, her success also made Bell programmers nervous about their jobs. She knew that the demand for access to computing power was about to witness a phenomenal takeoff.Kurtzig decided to set herself up in business. She titled her new company ASK. During her first year in business, Kurtzig made two strategic decisions that were crucial to ASK’s success-building the company’s service bureau and concentrating on manufacturing companies. By early 1974, ASK had three employees: a secretary and two programmers. In just a few months ASK had dozens of customers on-line, including Coca-Cola, General Cable, Borden Chemical, and Varian. On July 1, 1974, ASK incorporated. By 1977, ASK was getting offers and queries from around the world to sell its product. On October 1, 1981, ASK went public, offering 1.35 million shares: ASK netted $9 million, and Kurtzig received a check for over $5.58 million for her personal shares. By 1982, the enterprise was the eighth-fastest growing public company in the U.S. and the country’s fastest-growing software company. The Wall Street Transcript selected Kurtzig as one of the top three CEOs in the computer software industry.