Quark: ‘No Comment’

Quark: ‘No Comment’

2007
Sep
17

Ray Schiavone talks about QuarkXPress 8, competing with InDesign, and Quark tech support returning to the U.S. He hints at Quark going public, but then ducks the big questions. We have what Schiavone said, and what he didn’t.

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If you’ve been following this story, you know it began with startling allegations leveled against Quark by a confidential source within Quark’s U.S. operations. On 5 August 2007 Quark VS InDesign.com published the claims of the “Source”: that Quark was laying off personnel, that it was spending more money than it should on executive perks, that QuarkXPress 7 was drastically underselling projections. To answer those allegations, I interviewed new president and CEO Ray Schiavone who confirmed that Quark had dismissed an unspecified number of personnel–bizarrely, Schiavone claimed that the layoffs didn’t actually happen until days after Quark VS InDesign.com published that they had, and that I couldn’t have known about them ahead of time despite irrefutable fact to the contrary. As to the other claims, Schiavone was even less specific in his denials, though deny them he did.

During my first interview with Schiavone, which occurred on 8 August 2007 following the employee briefing wherein Schiavone reportedly broke the then-not-so-new-news that personnel had been laid off, I asked about a number of topics beyond, but inspired by, the allegations of the Source–topics like QuarkXPress 8, whether Quark has ceded the war for desktops to InDesign, and whether Schiavone wanted to take the privately-held Quark, Inc. public.

By mutual agreement, Schiavone and I decided to speak again and in more depth about those subjects before publication. The format agreed to was e-mail–I would provide Quark with a 20-questions-style selection of follow up questions, and Schiavone would respond in writing; any subsequently lingering points would then be clarified by telephone and/or e-mail. As expressed by MacLean Guthrie, director of Quark’s corporate communications and a party to my initial interview of Schiavone, Quark seemed just as interested in pursuing the second interview as they were the first.

Of course, that was before the first interview was actually published.

[For the record: Quark reviewed and confirmed every quote and fact in the “Quark Responds to ‘Quark Insider'” story prior to its publication. –Editor]

Unfortunately, the follow up questions, questions which Quark was initially anxious to answer, will go largely unanswered. Apparently that is because I failed to accept and regurgitate everything Schiavone said as gospel–something other writers desperate to garner favor with Quark were only too happy to do. By presenting a fair article that balanced the specific allegations of the Source with the light-on-fact retorts of Schiavone, and asking you, the reader, to make up your own mind, I have evidently broken the First Commandment, and as a consequence have apparently been excommunicated (again) from the divine grace of the Kingdom of Quark.

After three weeks of Guthrie’s delays and excuses, I had given up hope that Schiavone ever intended to address the questions I furnished to Quark on 15 August 2007. Last week I gave Schiavone one final chance to have his say. Though Schiavone was dynamic and garrulous in defending himself and his New Quark against the allegations of the Source, in this opportunity to put Quark’s best face forwarded he answers minimally and tersely, if at all.

Of course, any astute observer knows that what one doesn’t say is often more telling than what is said.

20 Questions for Ray Schiavone

Quark VS InDesign.com Quark is a company with a lot of history (some might say baggage) and ingrained attitudes. You must have known that going into the job. How did the company greet you? What have you been doing to change the so-called “Old Quark” corporate culture?

Ray Schiavone My approach has been 100 percent customer-centric. I’ve worked to empower every employee to play an active role in our customers’ success. I believe that there are only two jobs in the company: Sales and sales support. This philosophy gets everyone outwardly focused, and if any employee is capable of helping with customer issues, they’re called upon.

QvI Can you tell us a little about some of the people you’ve brought in to help with the New Quark, why you chose them?

RS: We’ve built a team that has proven expertise in turning around companies, expanding businesses in new global territories, developing products in new vertical markets, and generally leading companies to success. For example, Graham Freeman was a former Adobe Sales SVP who realigned Adobe’s worldwide sales operations. Jim Haggarty has introduced strategic technology plans and built world-class infrastructures for companies across diverse industries. And as VP of marketing Terry Welty led the repositioning of Arbortext, helping to turn the company around as the leader in enterprise publishing software.

QvI Congratulations on the new office in Silicon Valley. Loud complaints by English-speaking customers about non-native English-speakers in customer service and technical support. A workforce reduction in India. A new office in Santa Clara, Calif. Are you moving all of Quark’s English language telephone support and service back to the U.S., or only some of it?

RS: Our goal is to maintain customer support centers in the US, Europe, and India so that our customers virtually have 24-hour support. When operations close for the evening in one region, our technical teams in another region can work on resolving any outstanding issues. We want to be even more timely and effective in addressing our customers’ issues this way. We’re looking at how to further expand our customer support in the U.S.

QvI When can Quark’s customers expect the phone to ring in California instead of Mohali? Will that be by the end of 2007, or by Spring 2008?

RS: Customer support in Denver will begin this fall, and we will continue to have a customer support team in India and Neuchatel [ Switzerland].

QvI During our previous conversation you several times used the word “restructuring”–particularly in relation to recent layoffs, hirings, and shifting of positions between departments. It’s all rather vague, though. How are you restructuring Quark? Into what are you restructuring it?

RS: I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase before, “Change before you have to.” Every smart company has to heed this advice to stay competitive. As a company evolves, it needs to align its assets in order to capitalize on future market opportunities. And that’s what we’ve done.

Quark is focused on our customers’ future. While we continue to add value to QuarkXPress and maintain our commitment to our desktop customers, we are expanding in the enterprise market and in other new growth areas. In order to do this, we’re putting additional resources behind our strategic growth products.

QvI We’ve heard that, during a senior staff meeting in Spring 2007, you reportedly said: “QuarkXPress has lost against InDesign. That fight is over.” Is that how you feel? Has Quark given up the fight for the desktop publishing market?

Continued On...
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