Technophile: ‘Can we get to the point?’

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Paul Walker, CEO of Sage, the business software supplier

What’s in your pocket?

A silver Motorola Razr. As soon as they came out I got one immediately because they are very slim and light. I hate mobiles that won’t fit into your pocket properly.

Latest squeeze?

I’m tempted by a Black fridge-freezer with a built-in LCD screen right in the middle of the door. I saw it in Best Buy in the US and thought it was great but I’m not sure if it’s worth the money.

First crush?

My jaw dropped when our North American MD, Ron Verni, first showed me the BlackBerry [e-mail phone] in 2000. I thought everyone should have one. It’s perfect for me because I’m on the move all the time and don’t carry a laptop.

True Love?

Plasma TV screens. I first saw one in the late 1990s in Boston, displaying a screen full of tulips. Then, when I was building a house in 2000, the only thing I really wanted to get into it was some plasma. I started with Fujitsu screens and now have Pioneer.

What makes you mad?

What makes me really mad is when people won’t get to the point. I hurry them up by saying: “Can we get to the point and then we can get on with discussing it.” Most things can be said in two or three minutes. For a while, I insisted on people producing slides in acetate to make them keep presentations short.

What’s your biggest tech disaster?

In the late 1980s, Sage found a clever product that linked computers using a single chip on the network card. We started manufacturing and for a while we sold quite a lot. Then competition came along, and we lost a few million [pounds]. Now we stick to the software business we know.

What would you most love to see?

Newcastle United win the Premiership in the next few years (or just win something!).

If money was no object?

A Global Express 20-seat business jet. The world has shrunk and if you want to go to the West Coast or Japan, you could just get on with it.

PC or Mac?

I use a Mac at home and a PC at work. The Mac is great for the internet, Ipod [music player] and photos. I’d prefer my kids to be using Macs, but they need to be familiar with PCs because they use them at school.

Linux or Windows?

I use Windows at work. However, open operating systems, such as Linux, are set to become more pervasive as we start to use more and more devices, such as digital cameras, that are not reliant on Windows.

Google or not?

I use Google all the time, as do my children, for pictures, magazines, information about people. The next phase, Google 2.0, will be amazing.

How wrong have you been?

I’ve sometimes been wrong about companies I didn’t think would become successful and didn’t buy. But I’m not normally wrong in my judgments about people.

Company to watch?

IBM. After an impressive corporate turnaround, it has sustained momentum with some strategic acquisitions into adjacent markets (such as the consultancy PwC and some interesting technology plays).

And it has not been afraid to slay sacred cows, selling its PC division to Lenovo.

Left field technology?

Near-field wireless communication (known as radio frequency identification or RFID) is still at an early stage but the components – that allow goods to be tracked – will be miniaturised even further.

I have a feeling someone’s going to find a compelling use for it. We’re also going to see more wearable technology.

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