• Log In | Sign Up

  • News
  • Reviews
  • Games Database
  • Game Discovery
  • Search
  • New Releases
  • Forums

Adventure Gamers - Forums

Welcome to Adventure Gamers. Please Sign In or Join Now to post.

You are here: HomeForum Home → Gaming → Adventure → Thread


   

Sierra taken over by criminals? Interesting Al Lowe interview

Avatar

Total Posts: 1127

Joined 2009-04-28

PM

Came across this and thought I would share.

“I’m Al Lowe and I created a series of games called Leisure Suit Larry for Sierra back in the ‘80s and ‘90s along with another 20 games and titles back in that period. I was with Sierra from 1982 until 1998 when it—well, it was the poor victim of a hostile takeover by criminals. How about that for an opening?”

http://www.nodontdie.com/al-lowe/

     

3.5 time winner of the “Really Annoying Caption Contest Saboteur” Award!

Avatar

Total Posts: 2294

Joined 2013-03-14

PM

Thats pretty old news. Sierra was indeed pretty much taken over by a couple of people who were sentenced to jail time about it later on. The end of Sierra really was a messy affair.

     

Total Posts: 864

Joined 2004-01-06

PM

Intense Degree - 18 March 2015 02:07 PM

Came across this and thought I would share.
http://www.nodontdie.com/al-lowe/

Thanks for the link to the article. I suspect a lot of current gamers started playing adventure games long after Sierra’s heyday, and haven’t heard about the original Sierra being destroyed by a hostile takeover.

     
Avatar

Total Posts: 4011

Joined 2011-04-01

PM

tomimt - 18 March 2015 02:53 PM

Thats pretty old news. Sierra was indeed pretty much taken over by a couple of people who were sentenced to jail time about it later on. The end of Sierra really was a messy affair.

Well, anyone who stops making adventure games for other types of games is a criminal anyway. That’s just plain old common sense.

     
Avatar

Total Posts: 7840

Joined 2012-01-02

PM

Oscar - 20 March 2015 04:38 AM

Well, anyone who stops making adventure games for other types of games is a criminal anyway. That’s just plain old common sense.


                                                             

     
Avatar

Total Posts: 3986

Joined 2004-07-12

PM

crabapple - 19 March 2015 12:32 PM

Thanks for the link to the article. I suspect a lot of current gamers started playing adventure games long after Sierra’s heyday, and haven’t heard about the original Sierra being destroyed by a hostile takeover.

I’m not sure the “takeover” was quite as ‘hostile’ as Al makes it out to be.

Ken and Roberta were in their 40s. They were running a large corporation. They, like any other corporation of that size, at that time, were under a lot of stress to keep the numbers trending up. And they are offered an opportunity to get out from under all that at a price that offers a substantial premium over the company’s market cap. (And we’re not talking $Millions here, but $Billions with a capital B.)

I regret to say that I was never in that position. Frown But I worked for a few where that happened. It’s an entirely different mindset when you are an entrepreneur, who has built a company from scratch than the mindset of a corporate “suit.” Strangely, it was most often the entrepreneur who said “Let’s sell!” It’s not hard to imagine Ken and Roberta mulling over their options. A ocean-going yacht beats a heart attack any day of the week.

As to the criminality of the takeover, there is no question that the leaders of Cendant were criminals. But they were criminals long before they bought Sierra. They simply hadn’t been caught yet. So I think Al’s statement that it was “a criminal takeover,” or a paraphrased equivalent, is a bit of a stretch. Was it a takeover orchestrated by soon-to-be-convicted criminals? Absolutely Yes! Was the takeover itself criminal? Most likely not.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

Avatar

Total Posts: 2294

Joined 2013-03-14

PM

I think there’s some interviews even from Ken where he states the takeover was hostile. He was pretty much forced out from the company he build.

     

Total Posts: 67

Joined 2014-08-20

PM

What happened was Ken didn’t really want to sell. Sierra wasn’t for sale at the time. Walter Forbes (head of CUC) was a longtime member of Sierra’s board of directors. Someone who Ken happened to trust. He approached Ken by surprise after a board meeting with an offer to have his company buy Sierra at roughly 90% higher than it’s stock price, for $1 billion.

Ken at first balked at the idea of selling when he heard the idea CUC had for what Sierra would be like post acquisition. Their plan was to buy several companies at once and merge them into one gaming giant. This made Ken feel Sierra’s identity and unique corporate image would be lost basically and so he made a list of conditions under which he would sell.

One was that there be a software board composed of himself, the head of what would be CUC Software, the head of Davidson & Associates, and the head of Blizzard Entertainment. No major software related decisions could be made without the agreement of the heads of this group.

He was to be made Vice Chairman of CUC, which would in theory make him responsible for the overall game group and thus put him in a position to protect Sierra’s interests. He would also main solely responsible for Sierra’s R&D.

What ended up happening was after the acquisition, CUC put Bob Davidson, of Davidson & Associates, at the head of CUC Software. Davidson & Associates was a children’s education company and they hated Sierra products (especially Leisure Suit Larry and Phantasmagoria), viewing them as demonic and blasphemous and wanted to recall or eliminate them completely, but only managed to cut their marketing budgets and take them off some shelves. They also messed with KQ8 and tried to take the religious elements Roberta had put into it. They also shut down a number of Sierra design groups. This led to warfare between Ken and Davidson, with them head to head often.

The promised software board only met once.

Ken was indeed elevated to Vice Chairman of CUC but found his post meant little in terms of actual authority.

Because of all the fighting and feuding, the Davidsons left CUC Software. Ken felt at this point, he should’ve been made CEO of CUC Software since he was the most experienced in the software field of the senior staff. Instead, they picked a guy from their marketing department who had no prior experience in games at all.

Ken stayed on at least in name as Sierra’s CEO until November 1997.

At this time, CUC merged with HFS, a hotel company, to form Cendant, a mega corporation with 50,000 employees touching on almost every area of business. Despite all the internal struggle, Sierra business wise was doing better than ever.

But then in March ‘98 it was uncovered that the CUC end of Cendant had been “cooking the books”—artificially and illegally using accountants to inflate their income. For years, Cendant had been losing money and actually been near bankrupt, but had bought up smaller companies to hide these losses and inflate their income. They used Sierra’s accountants to facilitate this. When all of this came out, Sierra’s profitability was pretty much destroyed and many of Sierra’s employees 401Ks, even of those innocent of any wrongdoing, were wiped out.

Cendant sold Cendant Software to Vivendi. Sierra, with a new CEO, and now in dire straits financially, began shutting down studios and eliminating non-high selling product lines (adventure games) in an attempt to save the company—What we know as Chainsaw Monday. They also ceased developing games in-house, with some minor exceptions,  to save money as well.

In all likelihood, if Sierra had been sold to an honest company, they’d probably have 30,000 employees by now and be on top of the industry. When they were sold, their only rivals were considered to be EA and Microsoft. They were the market share leader of PC gaming at the time of the sale.

     
Avatar

Total Posts: 59

Joined 2003-09-27

PM

Will love to see more SIERRA games.

     
Avatar

Total Posts: 7840

Joined 2012-01-02

PM

I wonder why Ken didn’t you use his authorities, since he was an LA homicide detective, afterall! Cool

     

Image Attachments

11026209_10202441815527072_7226729860977924932_n.jpg

You are here: HomeForum Home → Gaming → Adventure → Thread

Welcome to the Adventure Gamers forums!