Xerox Corp has completed the spin-off of its Smalltalk-80 object oriented educational and artificial intelligence language business to the employees involved in its development, and they have now created ParcPlace Systems Inc in Palo Alto, California to carry on the work and market the results. ParcPlace Systems has assumed control of all rights to Smalltalk-80, research on which is considered the basis for mouse-driven, window-oriented user interfaces. ParcPlace has been funded by venture capital from several California firms, including Weiss, Peck & Greer, San Francisco; Advanced Technology Ventures and Paragon Partners of Menlo Park; and Inman & Bowman of Orinda, and Xerox has retained a minority interest and keeps one seat on the board. The new company starts life with about 30 employees, and says that its mission is to become the primary source of object-oriented application development and delivery environments. Adele Goldberg, chairwoman and president says that Much application has been found for the work of the past 15 years exploring interactive graphic user interfaces, integrated programming environments and object-oriented programming: ParcPlace Systems is continuing to create software customisation tools that deliver improved programmer productivity, creativity and information ownership. It was her idea that in 1986 Xerox should be a seed investor in a business partnership that should be nurtured within the womb of the giant corporation for a year before being spun off. This type of arrangement could serve as a template for a new kind of start-up company, she said, no doubt giving ideas to employees of several other small business units within large companies. Our experience with Xerox shows that a major diversified corporation, in a friendly and co-operative manner, can support a new business opportunity within itself and allow people to train for new responsibilities before the venture starts off on its own. And thus, she reckons, the venture and the corporation’s investment are given a much greater chance to grow and flourish.
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