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The March Massacre of ’82

The New Line-Up

In 1982 the problems came right on time, but the solutions were a day late or a dollar short.

On Tuesday, March 2nd, Jack Messman came to Utah again. This time George’s head was on the block. He was cast out. There were layoffs, and by the end of the month, half of Novell’s founding management was gone, as well as half the company.

Gone: Jack Davis, George Canova, Dennis Fairclough, Phil Long.

Still left: Larry Edwards, Joe Maroney, Rusty Woodbury, Craig Burton, Dave Guerrero. (We’ll meet that last man in People of 1982)

New: Jack Messman.

Novell Fibrillates

In retrospect, the March Massacre was a necessary step in keeping Novell alive long enough for the LAN product to evolve into a technologically superior product. It allowed the programmers time to develop the software to support file service, instead of freezing development at the disk service level.

But in the short term it did little to improve Novell’s prospects. In retrospect, the short-term shock was too great for the organization to bear. Instead of responding by everyone getting organized and making a great leap towards profitability, the organization fibrillated instead.

The people who had generated many of Novell’s problems were gone, but these were the same people who had created many of Novell’s solutions, too. People from both sides of the George Canova–Jack Davis feud had been swept out and people from both sides remained. After the massacre Novell was a lot smaller as a company, but no more unified.

The problems remained, and the people who remained had to face them. But each had a vested interest in solutions he or she had already recommended prior to the massacre. The new situation just seemed to pile new problems onto the old ones.

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