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The Final Days

The Rumor Floodgates Open Wide

When Craig and Judith left, the gossip mills cranked into high gear. The simultaneous departure of Craig and Judith for their first vacations in three years signaled major changes were afoot, even to those unaware of the heat of the politics coursing through Novell’s top management.

The first effect was shock. Craig and Judith had always had critics, but it was unclear that Novell’s stupendous growth could continue without them. Certainly there were day-to-day questions that needed to be answered and the organization had to adjust to those.

Then the gossip began to fly. What had been talked about discreetly before came out into the open: Craig (married) and Judith (divorced) had been having an affair.

And the worse nastiness began: Craig and Judith had conspired against Ray. Ray had conspired against Craig and Judith.

And the speculations: Ray had driven Craig and Judith out because he’d found out about their infidelity. Craig and Judith felt Ray was holding Novell back.

But the facts remained remarkably hidden. Jim Bills spoke darkly about “trusts having been broken”.

The Return

In February of 1989 Craig and Judith returned. Their return made as much news within the company as their departure had.

It was quickly announced that Novell was being reorganized yet again. Judith’s domain—the LAN Times and the trade shows—were being spun off into a separate profit center called NetWare Enterprises. For Judith this was purgatory—her strength was communicating an image, not controlling costs. But she agreed to the arrangement.

Craig’s return didn’t result in such a dramatic change. He resisted taking the electronics industry’s traditional exit door position: VP of Special Projects. Craig said later:

I’d seen Ray dispose of managers from Santa Clara, CXI, and Novell. Heck, I’d helped. He would start by putting him [or her] in charge of a special project—something that was outside the normal lines of responsibility and accountability. The manager would be given lots of encouragement and favorable feedback, and at the same time the project would be adjusted until it was paralleling something already going on within the company mainstream. The manager would finally see himself or herself as redundant, get the message and leave.

The return was temporary. The trust that had held the triumvirate together was shattered. Craig’s blunt ways of dealing with media people and analysts were no longer ameliorated by his being a mover and shaker at Novell—just because he said something no longer meant it was so. Drew remembers an episode.

We were at an analysts meeting in New York. When Craig got up to make his presentation he rambled on about how the new NetWare we were designing for 386-based servers shouldn’t be called NetWare 386. It should just be called another version of NetWare.

This was the wrong audience for this kind of thing. What difference did naming NetWare make to these analysts?

In 1988 what Craig said was likely to happen, and outsiders appreciated listening to him. In early 1989 what Craig said was “an image problem”. Ray put pressure on Craig and Craig responded by not appearing. As far as Novell was concerned he went into limbo in March of ’89 never to return. His employment officially ended in May.

It was about the same for Judith.

No announcement was ever made at a MEMBERS Meeting.

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