3Com: The unsung saga of the Silicon Valley startup that helped give birth to the Internet - and then fumbled the ball.

3Com: The unsung saga of the Silicon Valley startup that helped give birth to the Internet - and then fumbled the ball.

by Jeff Chase, Jon Zilber


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It's the hottest tech startup that nobody remembers. What went wrong? 3Com's game-changing technology helped make everything from the Internet, WiFi, and email part of our daily lives. The company's founder invented the core networking technology that made it possible to connect every computer, tablet, and phone on the planet—and later famously (and incorrectly) predicted the imminent death of the Internet. 3Com's legacy paved the way for the networked lifestyle—from Facebook to spam—that define our lives today. So what happened? More than just a history of a once-powerful tech powerhouse, readers will take away key business lessons still relevant today. They'll meet a kaleidoscopic cast of characters—people who illustrate how different personalities and leadership styles can shape the trajectory of a company reaching for the brass ring. Stories, drawn from dozens of first-hand interviews with 3Com executives and competitors and featuring tech icons like Steve Jobs, will explore the international skullduggery (real or imagined) involving companies like Huawei, Palm, and 3Com's arch-rival Cisco.Brilliant innovations, bungled mergers, record-smashing IPOs, and record-breaking financial "irregularities" are all part of the sweeping saga of 3Com's 30-year rollercoaster ride.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781733004008
Publisher: BookBaby
Publication date: 06/17/2019
Pages: 294
Sales rank: 1,121,100
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jon Zilber has been the editor-in-chief of tech magazines such as MacUser and PC/Computing. He launched and managed Palm's social media presence, and led communications teams for nonprofits such as the Sierra Club and TechSoup. His teams have been recognized with Emmy, Webby, and duPont-Columbia awards. Jon is also an occasional musician, composer, and playwright.

Table of Contents

Foreword Bob Metcalfe xiii

Foreword Eric Benhamou xvi

Preface xvii

The Nutshell Version 1

Chapter 1 A Dragon Unleashed 3

Chapter 2 What Happened 6

The Leadership Parade 8

Pivotal Decisions 9

Outside Forces at Play 10

The Wonder Years (1980-1989) 13

Chapter 3 Founding Fathers 19

Bob Metcalfe, Father of Ethernet 19

What's Wrong with Floppies? 26

How a Bob Becomes a Law 27

Howard Charney: VP of Operations-and Social Director 30

Bill Krause: The Making of a President 33

Chapter 4 Wiring the Future 41

3Com's DNA 43

Chapter 5 Making Miracles 45

Ship Happens 48

Keep Calm and IPO On 56

Moving-and Moving Onward and Upward 57

The Convergence That Wasn't 59

Sticking to its Knitting (For Now) 61

"Less" is More 62

The Can-Do "Can't Say" Project 62

Chapter 6 The New Kid on the Block 63

A Merger on the Rebound 64

Water Over Troubled Bridges 66

Walls and Bridges 68

A New Competitive Landscape 71

Chapter 7 Rebooting Our Bootstraps 74

The Ethernet vs. Token Ring Horse Race 78

The Wander Years (1990-1997) 81

Chapter 8 Shaking-and Shaping-Things Up 83

The New Echelon in Leadership 84

Three Amigos and Another Horse Race 87

Teenage Angst 88

Chapter 9 The Mother of All Networks 89

Riding the World Wide Web Wave 89

From Science Fiction to Tech Fact 91

Sibling Rivalry in the Community 92

Setting the Stage for Explosive Growth 94

Grand Junction, What's Your Function? 95

Chapter 10 The New Guard 96

A New Bob in Town 98

Personnel and Personality 100

First Steps into the Desert 102

The NetBuilder II Edge 104

Breaking Boundaries 105

Chapter 11 The Acquisitive Years 107

Slick BICC 109

A Noir et Blanc Decision 114

The Synernetics Secret 115

Less Chipper with Chipcom 116

The Nice Guys 119

Chapter 12 3Com's Cash Cow 121

Intel in Sight 121

NeXT Steps 124

Manufacture On 126

Chapter 13 A Cult Culture 128

Corporate Camaraderie 128

Financial Culture 129

Gender Supportive Culture 130

The Six O'Clock News Culture 131

A Classroom Culture 132

A Patent Culture 133

Real Estate Sets the Mood 135

Chapter 14 The Middle '90s 136

Hitting One Outta the Park 136

What's in Your Wallet? 138

Irrational Exuberance 140

War Around the Edges 141

Chapter 15 What Didn't Happen 143

Cascading Between a Rock and a Hard Place 146

Who Said Anything About a Whorehouse? 149

Back in the USR 150

The Winter Years (1997-2009) 155

Chapter 16 USR Aftermath and Aftershocks 157

1998: A Good Year to Get the @#$% Out of Dodge 159

Merger Mania 161

The State After the Union 162

What about Bob (Finocchio)? 164

Making Sense of it All, or Not 167

Slow Progress in Fast Ethernet 168

Forfeiting the Enterprise Prize 171

Chapter 17 Simply Palm 176

Donna's Dismay 178

The Spin on the Spinoff 180

Palm Loses Its Grip 180

Chapter 18 Picking Up the Pieces 184

Life Imitates Art 188

2001: A Claflin Odyssey 193

Death and Destruction 197

Broadcom Broadsides 3Com 198

The Why about WiFi 202

The CTO Role 205

Quid Pro Status Quo 206

¡Ay, Charisma! 209

Bruce Reviews the Boss 210

Reaching a Tipping Point 212

Performance Re-review 213

Chapter 19 Huawei Wowie 214

The China Syndromes 216

Chapter 20 Endgame 219

The Bain of Edgar Masri's Existence 221

A Slow Boat to China 225

The Sege Segue 227

The After Parties 232

Conclusions 239

Chapter 21 So, WTF Really Happened? 241

Chapter 22 Insights 244

Epilogue 246

Appendix A "Does Anyone Have a Toothbrush?" 251

Appendix B Timeline 257

Appendix C Required Reading 261

Index 263

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3Com: The unsung saga of the Silicon Valley startup that helped give birth to the Internet - and then fumbled the ball. 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
ReadersFavorite4 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite Jeff Chase's 3Com: The Unsung Saga of the Silicon Valley Startup that Helped Give Birth to the Internet—and Then Fumbled the Ball is the well-written story of one of the tech companies that pioneered digital technology, a company I just learned about for the first time —a startling discovery, indeed! In this nonfiction business book, the author retells the story of the company that invented the essential networking components that made it possible for computers to speak with each other. The author takes readers through the history of the company, from its founders through the leadership and the prestige it enjoyed, exposing some of the pitfalls it experienced. Created in 1979, 3Com was one of these companies, but why was it short-lived, ceding place to icons like Cisco? Jeff Chase looks at the history of this company, at the men and women behind it, and the incredible influence it had and lets readers in on some key elements on why the name eventually disappeared, almost wiped from memory. In this book, readers will encounter the founder and his philosophy and key players in the team, experts drawn from different walks of life and backgrounds, united by a vision to create something that changed lives, but why did they fail? That is the question with an answer that will surprise readers. The book is well researched and written in a style that is devoid of jargon, accessible and engaging. The book offers relevant lessons on vision, philosophy, and business culture, exposing the missing link that could have taken a silicon startup to great success. Inspiring and filled with a lot to think about, especially for business-minded readers.
ReadersFavorite3 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite The book 3Com is a work of technical non-fiction penned by co-authors Jeff Chase and Jon Zilber, one which focuses on ‘The unsung saga of the Silicon Valley startup that helped give birth to the Internet—and then fumbled the ball’. An educational and informative guide to one of the major breakthroughs that resulted in the innovative world of the internet and the technology-reliant society in which we now live, this fascinating book gives 3Com the credit that has, in its authors’ opinions, been long overdue. Alongside the incredible journey of this powerful start-up that has since been forgotten, key traditional business lessons from the past are presented again for the future of innovation in the technology field. Never having delved into the history of tech companies and the development of the internet before, I was thrilled to find that co-author team Jeff Chase and Jon Zilber did not write with any assumed knowledge on the part of the reader. They present a comprehensive and easy to follow history, with plenty of side notes and anecdotes that help connect all the pieces of 3Com’s important work to the technology that we know and rely upon now and in the future. The highs and lows of the business are recalled in a really readable, interesting way, with good organization and chronology to keep the timeline of events nice and clear. Overall, 3Com is a work which highlights the importance of innovation but also warns against bad planning and bad business for innovators of the future.
ReadersFavorite2 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite Jeff Chase's 3Com, subtitled 'the unsung saga of the Silicon Valley startup that helped give birth to the Internet—and then fumbled the ball,' is a non-fiction book on the evolution and ultimate fate of one of the significant companies and market leaders in the days of the early Ethernet and internet boom: 3Com. In this book, Jeff has done a lot of research and personally known and been involved during some of the most significant times in the history of 3Com. He has divided the book into major sections and chapters that examine in detail the history of 3Com as well as its founder members, its evolution and early market strategy, the big payoff, and the time when it was making big money, its decline and some of the reasons this happened, along with a general history and overview of the company itself, its people, its culture over the years, and more. There is also an index and additional reading references at the end along with some interesting anecdotes as well. This is an entertaining read. More than that, I think it is an eye-opener in some ways as most of the current generation takes the Internet for granted. This book and the history of 3Com, which showcases the early days of the World Wide Web and such, makes for a thrilling read into the evolution of a technology that has proven transformative for human civilization in unimaginable ways. Although the history of 3Com is one that is ultimately of decline, its contribution to the global Internet technology has been tremendous and indispensable and I enjoyed reading this book. Jeff writes in a detailed, thorough style that provides a step-by-step insight into what happened with 3Com over the years. There are also quite informative biographies presented of the many alumni and employees of 3Com, which I appreciated. This is a good book that I would recommend.
ReadersFavorite1 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite Jeff Chase and Jon Zilber's 3Com is the true story and “unsung saga of the Silicon Valley start-up that helped give birth to the internet—and then fumbled the ball.” With an impressive foreword by 3Com daddy Bob Metcalfe, the all-important threshold of authenticity required in a non-fiction account is met. The book covers the company's thirty-year lifespan from its conception in 1979, its growing pains (there were few, initially), the development of the Palm Pilot, multiple acquisitions, and its ultimate demise in a spectacular fall from grace, relegated to the memory of....well, almost nobody. I might be one of the few, which is why this book was an immediate stand out for me. I grew up in San Francisco, attending Giant's games at 3Com Park. I was only a teenager but living in the Bay Area meant that we knew—we all knew—what was happening, growing, changing, developing, and dying with our tech giant neighbors to the south. It's fascinating to me to go back and read about a company that was so influential to the growth of our city. Jeff Chase and Jon Zilber write with a levity that makes 3Com comfortable for even the greatest of technophobes. Even better, there is genuine insight and lessons applicable even today into how a company can go from being king to being a ghost in less than a generation. I believe this book will find wide readership with anyone who has an interest in computer science and the history of modern technology, as well as with those who own or run a business in any industry themselves. Highly recommended as both an informative read and an intriguing story in and of itself.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite In 1979, the world was much different. Especially in the realm of computer technology, before the entity now called the internet spread its universal web. Computer geeks and engineering pros today look back on this time as ancient history when the initial revolution creating and defining the modern e-world first exploded with all the massive impact (and import) of an atom bomb. As might be expected, there is historical drama to be retold and entrepreneurial lessons to be learned from returning to such a time of genesis. Jeff Chase with Jon Zilber focus on a central player, 3COM, a young company who contributed the most vital seed for making Ethernet accessibility possible. A major player that may have subsequently, sadly, after several decades, left the scene but also left behind some hugely dynamic and massively creative fingerprints. Jeff Chase's 3COM reads like any great business thriller. The major characters are unique and mesmerizing, flawed and brilliant, human and beyond normal. They are youngsters filled with zeal and intelligence, as well as vision and a passion for success. Like innovators at any time, they are mostly flying blind, making rapid-fire decisions as they go, eager to create a perfect future. Like business executives of any time, they are also keen to organize and capitalize, cooperate and compete, and sell their bold new ideas and miraculous products to anyone who needs them. Heady stuff. And 3COM the book makes for a thrilling ride, even ensconced within the necessary techno-babble spoken fluently by all engineering techno-geeks, i.e. the brilliant people.