It was ten years ago today that Laridian was incorporated. Time flies!
I started working on Bible software for Windows CE in April of 1998 while I was still at Parsons Technology. Parsons had decided it wasn’t interested in software for PDAs. That didn’t really matter since the sale of Parsons to Broderbund in 1997 had accidentally left me under no non-compete nor any intellectual property agreement of any kind. So I was free to launch a Bible software company even though it looked a little questionable.
(Interestingly, this would get tested in 2002 when the stockholders of Mattel sued Mattel and its executives over the lack of due diligence in the purchase of The Learning Company, which at the time was the owner of Parsons Technology. I was a witness for the plaintiffs (the shareholders) and was deposed for a day and a half. A team of lawyers went through my notebooks and phone logs covering the last couple years I was at Parsons. When they discovered I had started Laridian before leaving Parsons they really dug in — looking for a way to discredit my testimony. They were unable to find any evidence of any wrong-doing on my part, and eventually the shareholders won the suit and received several million dollars from Mattel.)
We incorporated on October 21, 1998 and our first sale was on November 28, 1998. I resigned from Parsons on December 11. Jeff Wheeler and Jim VanDuzer followed me in January.
The product now known as PocketBible for Windows Mobile was our first product. At the time it was called PalmBible and Windows Mobile was called Windows CE. Sometime in 1999 or 2000 some idiot at the US Patent and Trademark Office granted Palm, Inc. a trademark on the word “Palm” pretty much in any imaginable context. Palm started flexing its newly found power and threatened everyone using the word “Palm” in the title of their software. We received a letter saying we needed to change the name of our product. Microsoft had just come out with a new type of device it was calling “Pocket PC” and promised not to trademark the word “Pocket”, so PalmBible became PocketBible.
We didn’t know anything about electronic commerce at the time. Parsons sold a lot of products through its Web site but none of us were involved in the technical implementation of online sales so we didn’t know where to start. Fortunately Bob Parsons had started a Web hosting company in Phoenix by then so we called him up and had his company implement our Web store. As is normal with such things they did about 90% of it and called it good. We had to finish up a number of things, but that ended up being a good thing because it forced me to learn how the site worked and how to write VBScript and SQL.
Laridian was then and has remained a virtual company. We’ve never had office space; we all work from home. For a long time we sold our products only through the Web site, and only by download. So there wasn’t any inventory. We even provided our own computers for the first couple years (and worked without a salary), so the company didn’t even have any physical assets.
Over time that has changed a little bit. For a long time we distributed our physical products through distribution partners but we got burned three times by three different companies. So now that’s all handled in-house. Our “warehouse” is a storage garage, and we make trips there as necessary to replenish the stock of products one of us keeps at home for direct orders, or to put together larger orders for stores. (We sell our iPocketBible audio Bibles through Christian bookstores. Right now those are our only physical products.)
We’ve all had to make adjustments in our homes to work full-time from home. I had a small 9′ x 12′ office off our family room when the company first started, but I quickly outgrew it and needed more storage and work space. We ended up building an addition on the house so I could have a bigger space (and better sound-proofing). Now I have about a 14′ x 20′ office with a small storage room attached. This works great as I’m completely isolated from the rest of the house. This is important because we taught our five kids at home so there was always a lot of activity during the day. The kids were good about letting me work, but they still made a lot of noise. (My oldest three are married and out of the house now; the youngest two go to the Christian school run by our church.)
I worked ten years and two months for Parsons Technology, and that was my longest time at one job. In March I’ll have been working full-time for Laridian for that long. I think we’ve accomplished a lot and hope to keep doing it for another ten or more. We all appreciate those of you who have made us your PDA Bible software source over the years. You’re a big part of what makes it fun to do this job. Thanks for ten great years!