The Decade That Was

Today is the last day of the first decade of the 21st century. I guess everyone has an interesting story to tell about this past decade, and so have I. Around this time, ten years ago, I had just resigned from my first and hopefully last job at ACGL to start my first company with a school classmate, good friend and neighbor. We named the company “Floating Point Solutions”. Like all weird names, this one also has an interesting story behind it, which goes like this. While working at our existing jobs, my friend and I began developing an accounting program in Turbo C in our free time. The idea was to have the program listed in the “Experience” section of our CV’s which was blank since we were freshers. Every time the program ended it left a message on the screen saying:

Floating point error: Domain
Abnormal program termination

Thanks to the internet, finding an explanation for such programming issues has now become a matter of typing a search phrase into a browser. But back then we had to tear our hair out staring at code that looked perfectly fine to us. On one of those evenings we went out to have a drink and ended up bitching about this very issue. After downing a few, my friend said to me, “If we ever get into business and form a company, let’s call it Floating Point Error“. We laughed and continued drinking. We eventually managed to fix the problem the next day. However, when the time came to get into business and form a company, we needed a name. We realized that Floating Point Error was not a good name for a software company and decided to call it Floating Point Solutions instead.

Floating Point Solutions was quite a weird joy ride and I enjoyed every bit of it. We started out by doing outsourcing work for a company called CNCProse based in Salt Lake City, Utah. We started development of CNCNest, a 2D part nesting system, a product that CNCProse still sells today. In fact, the user interface (even the icons and toolbar buttons) is exactly the same as I designed it a decade ago. So I guess I did a pretty good job back then.

I believe that outsourcing is a nice business model. But you can sometimes find that the success or failure of your business is directly tied to that of your clients. I was not comfortable with that and decided to expand by creating off the shelf products that anyone could buy from our web site using a credit card. So I registered a domain name (fpsols.com), got a free ad-supported hosting account at Bizland, created a few web pages describing what a great company we had and then sent an email to Autodesk asking if we could partner with them. It was an absolutely crazy idea and I am not sure what possessed me to do it. But imagine my surprise when Autodesk accepted and Floating Point Solutions became an Autodesk Authorized Developer. Armed with the Autodesk partnership I decided to apply for the SolidWorks Solution Partner program and got accepted there as well. Over time we developed small utility plug-ins for AutoCAD and SolidWorks as well as customized solutions for their users.

In 2004, my friend and I amicably decided to part ways and I founded SYCODE as a sole owner company. It was relatively easy for me to recreate the partnerships for SYCODE since I already had made the necessary contacts while I was running Floating Point Solutions. I believe that partnerships are key to any business and at SYCODE I am constantly looking for new ones.

I started this blog 1st August 2006 with a post titled “Should Autodesk keep the DWG format a secret?” Later I started writing on the law suit between Autodesk and the ODA on the TrustedDWG issue and quickly found that people were actually reading what I was writing. I started this blog as a hobby and now it has got completely out of control. Maybe if I had used the time spent typing my thoughts into a browser to write C++ code instead, I would have made more money for myself. But then I would have remained as an obscure programmer sitting in a corner of a third world country on the wrong side of the planet. I have to admit that this blog has taken me places. There is no way the Founder and CEO of SYCODE would be invited to attend something like COFES. After attending SolidWorks World 2010 next month I am flying over to San Francisco to meet with Carl Bass, the CEO of Autodesk and his top executives at their company head quarters. Such a thing would be inconceivable had I not started blogging more than three years ago.

I am not sure what will happen in the next decade. I have some plans but am nowhere close to the finance and resources that I need to get them started. I only hope that this coming decade will be as interesting as the last one, if not more.

On behalf of everyone at SYCODE, as well as my family, I wish you a Happy New Year. Or maybe I should say Happy New Decade.