And here’s July (up soon is Bob Wright, CEO of NBC, then Omid Kordestani, of Google):
TITANS OF TECH
Turning the Page
Bit by bit, Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy is digitizing the copier company she helped save.
By John Battelle, July 2005 Issue
She was not the obvious choice to lead Xerox through its darkest hour, but four years and one miraculous turnaround later, no one is questioning Anne Mulcahy’s leadership anymore. A nearly 30-year veteran of the company, Mulcahy doesn’t like to dwell on her much-lauded role in helping Xerox avert bankruptcy. She’s too busy trying to get the company growing again.
Long before any of us Googled anything, we all Xeroxed everything. The company’s iconic status came despite a scant presence in homes; although Mulcahy had established Xerox’s consumer printer business, she shut it down when the company was strapped for cash. (By making tough decisions like that, Mulcahy cut the company’s $14 billion debt load almost in half.) Xerox now mostly serves large businesses, not just selling them copiers but managing “information flow” by scanning and storing documents in digital form. And despite the spinoff of its fabled Palo Alto Research Center, Xerox has still managed to innovate: It now gets two-thirds of its $15.7 billion annual revenue from products and services that are less than two years old.
Having turned the company around, what will Mulcahy do next? Many people floated her name as a potential replacement for Carly Fiorina at Hewlett-Packard. A Xerox PR staffer told the New York Times that Mulcahy would “never, ever” consider leaving. “Why don’t you just put a fricking lock on the door!” Mulcahy says with a laugh. If she has more successes like the turnaround, Xerox’s board had better do just that. Business 2.0 sat down recently with Mulcahy to learn more about her plans.
Are you bored yet with being asked how you turned Xerox around?
Yes! It was interesting, but it only led up to the thing we really care about, which is succeeding, not just surviving.
How do you get a culture to move beyond survival and start innovating?
The most critical thing — even more critical than getting the company financially stable — was recognizing that nobody’s in this just to survive. You have to make sure there’s a compelling enough story that the great people will stick with you during the difficult times, that they will hang tight for the possibilities of the future.
Let’s talk about that future. What happens to the document on the Internet? Do you consider Google a competitor?
It would be terrific if Google’s model worked in larger enterprises, but the world those businesses live in has not only tons of digital technology but also vast amounts of manually intensive paper-based processes. Making information more accessible, more personalized, is a huge opportunity. Search as a utility is a wonderful thing, but it’s really about the journey from paper to digital for our customers.
So what does going from paper to digital involve? Are you just talking about scanning documents?
(continued in extended entry)