Dead Solid Pluperfect

A Hot Buttered Guff™ Production

Arbortext Royalty Fraud: Chapter Three

Prosperity Beckons

Mary, my wife, was impressed.

“I can’t believe you went to a business meeting without getting arrested before it was over.”

“It’s the new me.”

“Does the new you come with a warranty?”

“Very funny. Dwuntz walked out of the meeting.”

“Sounds like a role reversal. What happened to Mr. Unflappable Wimp?”

“It’s the new him.”

“I take it the contract didn’t get signed then?”

“No. It’s a go.”

“You signed it?”

“Dwuntz did.”

“Then he walked out?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“That must have made a fabulous impression on Arbortext. Is this some new marketing strategy Dwan has come up with?”

“I doubt it. I think he was just too chickenshit to be there when I found out he’d already cooked up his own deal with them.”

“Which was . . . ?”

I hung my head and laughed. “Another crackpot idea of how he could get rid of me and take over the company.”

“He’s persistent. If nothing else. I can’t wait to hear this one.”

“Apparently, he managed to convince Arbortext that I would be amenable to uprooting you and all six of the kids and moving to Michigan where I could have a steady job as an Arbortext employee who ground out source code that they would pay me for and then, because they’re such swell fellows, they would pass my source code back out here to California to him so he could keep being Blueberry Software under some sort of perpetual licensing agreement.”

“Why would Arbortext do that? Does he think they’re as stupid as he is?”

“It’s a possibility. At one point he compared what he does at Blueberry — negotiating contracts and such — as similar to what Bob Brueck does.”

“As though he and Brueck were like equal type guys?”

“I’d say that’s what he was hinting at, yes.”

“Oh my God. Brueck is an independent big shot. He lives on a spread in Idaho. Cruising along. Huge companies contract with him to work out their problems and facilitate take overs and stuff. Kevin is just Kevin. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, Steve, but your partner is a small potatoes loser.”

“Brueck didn’t burst out laughing.”

“How tactful.”

“I hope you weren’t dying to move to Michigan. It’s not too late to change my mind.”

“You go to Michigan and you go alone.”

“I thought you might feel that way.”

“Good guess. This whole thing makes me sick. What is it with Dwan? Have you suggested to him that he needs to see a shrink?”

“Not tactfully.”

“So what happens now?”

“I go back to work like nothing’s happened.”

“What about his side deal with Arbortext?”

“Kaput.”

“What made him think you’d go for such a ridiculous idea?”

I shrugged. “I guess he thought I’d do anything to secure a steady income. Even though Arbortext would probably can me as soon as they didn’t need me any more. Two or three years tops. They offered $400,000 also. Two hundred for me and two hundred for Dwan.”

“Would you have taken three hundred?”

“Nope. I like having my own business.”

“How about a million?”

“Well, . . . .”

“Good. Just checking. Just checking. So the gist of it is that Dwan’s plan to steal the business from you relied totally on you agreeing to let him?”

“Pretty much.”

“The man’s not well, Steve. I’m serious. He’s ill. Very ill. I’m going to have to pray for him.”

“I’m sure that will help.”

Mary gave me one of her looks. One of her more poignant looks.

End of discussion. Back to work.

By August, the Import side of the customizations to Blueberry’s source code were completed and I began work on the Export changes. Mark Lambert, the engineer at Arbortext that had become my constant cyberspace companion since March, was quite enthused. He remarked to me how much better Arbortext’s products would be through the alliance with Blueberry. Until now, Arbortext only supported translations to and from Microsoft Word. This required that an Arbortext product purchaser also purchase Microsoft Word and have both products on his computer. It also relied mostly on Word to provide the translation.

In other words, pretty hokey and cumbersome and dependent on Microsoft.

Blueberry’s strategic value was pretty clear. Stunningly so. In addition to providing translations to and from Word, Arbortext now could do the import and export dance with files from Framemaker and Interleaf as well. Two huge new markets with thousands and thousands of files now able to be converted into Arbortext files and turned into web worthy documents. Blueberry was also a standalone system level product that required no manual intervention nor the presence of any host applications like Word, Framemaker, or Interleaf. Blueberry was automatic. All it needed was the input type and filename, and the output type and filename. Nothing else. Press the button, look out the window, and presto! The conversion was complete in seconds and could be done on multiple files, not just one at a time. All those millions of files sucked right into Arbortext’s new Epic 4 product.

I didn’t bother myself with the remuneration we would receive for this valuable improvement. I trusted Arbortext to pay us fairly. And, after all, Dwan was on the job, right? Surely he was, wasn’t he?

At least he was no longer proposing to buy me out of Blueberry. In fact, we settled into a fairly pleasant relationship called ignoring the hell out of each other as much as humanly possible. Strictly business now. No pretense of chumsville.

The export customizations were completed in late November and passed through the final beta testing procedures and in December, 2000 Arbortext made its official release of Epic Editor 4.1., with our product Interchange shipped out on every product CD and available for licensing by the purchaser. I was very pleased. All those little shipments with my shit on the disk. Little old me.

I did not think to wonder why it was Version 4.1 and what may have been on Version 4.0. That was Dwan’s responsibility. Arbortext was to pay us a guaranteed minimum of $17,500 per quarter against actual royalties, so we got our first guaranteed quarterly payment of that amount in October for the first quarter of our contract year, July through September. No suspicions from me. After all, how could there be any royalties for the first quarter when I hadn’t finished the product yet? But now that the product was released, minimum payments were sure to be soon eclipsed by actual royalties. Which were normally two, three, even four times greater.

Yes indeed, life was looking very promising to Mary and me as we rolled into 2001. Mr. Bread Winner was tossing some serious manna supplements on the kitchen table. To really polish our crystal ball, we refinanced the house in March and paid off all our debts. And suddenly there I was, old hippie dropout slogger emerging from the long and winding swamp of life debt free and cruising to the finish line at the frightening age of fifty-five.

The calm before the storm.

To be continued . . . Free Hit Counter website statistics

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June 12, 2008 - Posted by | Business, Life, News, Software, Technology | , , , ,

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