The joys and perils of building a technology company that can stand the test of time
Today is the 20th anniversary of Stardock’s incorporation.
Having my own company was never my intention. It sort of just happened. What started in my dorm room has, over the past 20 years, expanded into an exciting but sometimes maddening adventure.
Twenty years ago I was a college student at Western Michigan University studying to become an electrical engineer. My mom and I had moved to Michigan when I was four years old, and she had taught me the importance of working and saving from a young age. Still, money was tight and college was not cheap. To pay for school, I worked multiple part-time jobs. One of those jobs evolved into Stardock.
Between classes and my other jobs, I programmed my first game: Galactic Civilizations for IBM’s now-defunct OS/2 operating system. My mom talked me into incorporating the company. If I was going to do business with other companies, I needed to be a “real” company and not just a 21 year old college student.
I still intended to get a “real” job when I graduated from college, but the critical success of Galactic Civilizations for OS/2 had created a lot of opportunities for my fledgling company. That led to leasing office space and hiring people so that we could make whatever kinds of cool stuff we could think of. Twenty years later, here we are, still making cool stuff.
People ask me what qualities have allowed Stardock to succeed over such a long period of time. When I started, I would have said that perseverance and hard work were the critical elements. Now, I’d say those are more like prerequisites. The critical ingredient for a company to succeed is bringing excellent, talented people together and creating an environment that allows them to reach their potential. I think that is the single biggest reason for our enduring success.
Twenty years in, I’m immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished at Stardock. At the same time, I’m even more excited about what we have in store for the future. Starting today with the announcement of Galactic Civilizations III, the next chapter in Stardock history begins. I think this part of the story is going to be my favorite yet.