Quark: ‘No Comment’

Quark: ‘No Comment’


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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15 Responses Discussing “Quark: ‘No Comment’”
  1. Fine job of reporting. Thank you. I’ve been strongly thinking about switching since our last major printing problem. Maybe this is what I need to get me off dead center.

    Their direction does make sense from a purely financial perspective, in fact it seems like the only solution for them – to head in the enterprise direction.

    Hope you can keep your off-the-record contacts, it’s quite interesting to hear the real story in addition to the for-public-consumption story.

    It would also be interesting to find out what Schiavone’s private comments are after he reads your report. Probably not going to happen though.

    17 Sep 2007
    04:37 PT
  2. Pariah, your interview clearly is one-sided and is wrought with assumptions. How can you expect a CEO tell a “journalist” what the strategy of the business is for the next 3-5 years. Do you understand competitive advantage or do jounalists not have to worry about competition.
    I do not blame Mr. Schiavone for not responding to your questions as he is turning around a software company, that has a long legacy of problems and I can imagine has more important issues to cover than defending humself against hearsay from an “unidentified source”, who you are using to create a controversy.
    Too bad you do not publizie the good news about Quark, i.e. the Quark Connects program which was announced at Graph Expo which provides all Quark printer partners with a direct avenue to the consumer/customer versus Adobe’s (since retracted) program to exclude all printers by using Fedex.
    It is very evident you are an Adobe supporter and continue to bash Quark when you have an opportunity. I strongly suggest all readers of your blog read your responses and assumptions with caution as they are very miseleading.

    17 Sep 2007
    21:26 PT
  3. hmmf… did any of you guys ever see “The Mummy”? Remember how those anubis warriors disintegrated into sand when their heads got chopped off (and when their boss got deaded)? I think all these Quark warriors are going to go the same way sometime soon

    18 Sep 2007
    03:56 PT
  4. The days of being able to charge 700-plus dollars simply to put text or pictures in a box has long since past. We all need to stop trying to get blood from this stone. And all this talk of Quark becoming an enterprise application — simply more corporate justification to maintain their ridiculous pricing schedule. Not only does InDesign beat this dinosaur feature-wise, so does CorelDRAW!, the red-headed stepchild of DTP.

    Quark… still saving pages as EPS one page at a time (or is there a $100 Xtension to fix that?).

    21 Sep 2007
    20:31 PT
  5. Since I have been back in the design community – with the ability to use, teach and speak about ALL the products that are out there. It took me less than 1 week to completely get my skills back up to speed at expert level in InDesign CS3. I have fallen in love with Bridge and the simplicity of the suite. I still teach and present QXP because I have expert level skills – but the demand is very low. My eyes are open wide, as I am in touch in InDesign users and not just Xpress users, as I had been for the past 3.5 years. I am finding people are asking me to teach/present InDesign 90% more than QuarkXPress.

    And this is because the ramp to move to InDesign has been steady throughout the past 5 years. It has not declined in the least – and Quark knows this, and has addressed it with the future plan for the direction of the company. I found out last week that one of the few major US publishing giants that is still using QXP (ver 4) – has decided to move to InDesign, but has not told Quark yet. I know because they were in a class that I taught on Transitioning to InDesign.

    It is sad because I truly supported every effort the company made to reach out to the Quark community – however, I think the boat was missing during the old administration days. I applaud Quark for recognizing what they have to do to make the company viable once again, which means changing the strategy and vision. Quark will survive – whether it’s product line changes, whether or not the company is sold or becomes a public entity is yet to be seen.

    The PM team at Quark is great – and they know what they are/were up against and realize the changes that the company has to make. However, revealing them to the public could damage the company severely. I know the path of some of the new technologies that are being built – but cannot discuss them until 9/6/08. If Quark has not released anything new by that date – then feel free to get tin touch with me.

    In the meantime – explore your options, look at the design tools that are best for you. Even if Quark did go all-enterprise – the support will not go away for the desktop products. By the way – the employee that will be heading up the new Tech Support team in Denver is amazing and he is a long time Quark employee and truly cares about customer support. Congrats Craig!

    I look forward to attending the Quark Symposium in Chicago on October 30 to see if Quark is changing their messaging. I will follow-up with a full story which can be found at http://www.creativeblvd.com – where I am the Editor-in-Chief. I am pulling for Quark and am looking forward to seeing new technologies.

    22 Sep 2007
    07:09 PT
  6. Hey there Pariah, very interesting reporting. Thank you!

    A couple things … have you been to the Quark Forums lately? Seen all the higher-ups and VPs listed by name as the moderators of the forums and actually participating, helping, asking for sample problem child files etc. from the users who post there? I thought of that when Ray said “if there’s a customer problem, we pull in everyone to help.” It’s heartening to see, I tell you. Adobe staff help out on the Adobe forums, but on their own time, and coverage is spotty. They make it clear they’re User to User forums. There is no other way to talk to an Adobe official other than paying for the tech support call. So the free 800-number support plus the responsive, authoritative forum support is really great to see.

    The other thing … you were talking about Quark moving to some sort of a hosted solution. I think just about every software developer and their grandmother is doing the same thing. Starting with Web 2.0 goodness like Google’s spreadsheet and word processing programs, to Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements built into photo sharing sites, to Microsoft Office Live … if Quark *weren’t* planning on moving at least some offerings in that direction, I’d be surprised. Or I guess I should say, I wouldn’t be surprised; but you say/surmise they are, so to me that’s a sign at least some people over there are in touch with industry trends.

    I don’t think you’ve been frozen out of Quark. Maybe they just want a break. ;-)

    23 Sep 2007
    10:34 PT
  7. Asking hard questions is part of being a journalist. If Quark is really uncomfortable with these questions, they should really think twice about going public. Journalists and investors will be relentless. Once they go public it’ll be much tougher to BS, because that’ll just make them look either stupid, dishonest or both. I wish they’d go public just to see their financial. Seems like Ray knows what he’s doing, but they really need to work on their PR.

    24 Sep 2007
    09:53 PT
  8. Reading through the first half of the article, I really felt that his answers were like something that the PR department would write.

    Kudos to PB for seeing through them all. A great and interesting read.

    28 Sep 2007
    05:46 PT
  9. I had an opportunity to work on the development of Quark XPress in
    India starting version 5 and can vouch for huge amount of hard work which had gone into the development during last few years.
    Though there were a number of difficulties which had to be overcome the development process had started stabilising by the time version 7.0 was completed.
    Observing the intensity of exchanges and the emotional outpourings I can’t help but hope for early stabilisation and timely release of impoved versions

    29 Sep 2007
    23:19 PT
  10. I’m using Quark for about 9 years now. It’s been getting better and better with every version, and at the time it was launched, I thought the 7.0 version was truly revolutionary. But now I chose to switch to InDesign. By the words of Schiavone, “that war is over”. That’s it.

    09 Nov 2007
    11:48 PT
  11. Just as i would say, i switched to InDesign with Version 1.5. Shure was buggy that time, but improved so much. Quark was still good in that time and still has some functions InDesign is missing… But there are so many things way better in InDesign.

    Someone got a list of the differences between those two?
    That be nice…

    14 Nov 2007
    00:57 PT
  12. The war is over?

    How about ScribusVsIndesign.com? How long will it be before Scribus has more users than Quark?

    27 Nov 2007
    10:27 PT
  13. i like working in Quark, i now they have problems to compete with adobe but they have to be patiente and not to pay attention on graphic issues like inDesign but on my oppinion on speed, stability, simplicity …

    greetings from Europe

    06 Dec 2007
    18:27 PT
  14. Adobe’s new pricing in Europe is probably not helping either.

    07 Dec 2007
    08:58 PT
  15. they’re firing again… though not that britally this time.. its a new HR policy – implied firing… all those ppl who dont get a 1 yr contract letter are implicitly fired..

    13 Jan 2008
    21:59 PT

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