9.28.2006

Project Vampire is about to Fly...


"Project Vampire” is about to fly


This will probably be the longest most heartfelt article I have ever written. I have been planning it for weeks and I wanted to be careful to break the news without forgetting anything. We didn’t tell our friends, we didn’t tell our staff, and we didn’t tell our family (other than our wives). Let’s just say this was the best kept secret in the industry, even those at the Inquirer hadn’t a clue what was going on (sorry guys).

We would really appreciate it if you read this article from front to back before asking questions or making comments – it’ll make our lives much easier so we don’t have to re-cap points.

Some time ago, after receiving an interesting offer “to take Voodoo to the next level”, my brother and I agreed that we would never simply take a check for the company. We also agreed that it would not make sense to go downstream to grow our brand like all of our competitors. Instead we chose to build Voodoo into something more meaningful because we both believed (and still do) in the brand and our vision regardless of what people on the outside thought. The teams within Voodoo also believe in our company – many of them have been here for years, some longer than my brother. Their enthusiasm for our products shows in the quality of their work. Our brand DNA flows throughout our entire organization and it is expressed in many ways.

I recently wrote a story about my previous discussions with Dell. In that story I made a suggestion that Dell was not on our strategic radar at the time – if not for Michael Dell contacting us we probably wouldn't have spoken.

Our first choice in strategic partners was actually another OEM who we believed was in a stronger position. We spoke to some Taiwanese based ODMs who were very interested in working with us, but we didn’t see a fit. We kept circling back to that particular OEM who we knew was a diamond mine of technology and intellectual property. It is a company that we feel has made some significant corporate changes for the better in recent months (even after we started speaking with them) – little did we know that their management team consisted of like-minded people.

The Tour de France

In July of last year, thanks to my good friend Morris, I flew to France to attend the Tour. It was Lance Armstrong’s last kick at the cat and we were going to take in a few stages while at the same time enjoy riding through the south of France with Trek Travel.

I went riding for a number of days with a group of people from all different walks of life, including some individuals from this OEM. I knew they would be there so I did whatever I could to get on the list. I had never (ever) ridden a road bike prior to arriving in Toulouse and the extent of my training was the 3 weeks prior where I spent training in a gym in Seattle. I hadn’t exercised in over three years so clearly I was determined to make it – or at least I would die trying.

I arrived in Toulouse and started to make introductions. I then met a guy by the name of John who was working for this company at the time. I had been speaking with him between catching my breath riding and playing it cool. It's hard to play it cool when I showed up with a brand new helmet, shoes, pedals and I didn’t know how to switch gears on a road bike. I was a total n00b.

I was relaying to him bits of our strategy, and how Voodoo could work with them. He seemed intrigued, but he said he was virtually powerless as the company was notoriously conservative. Little did I realize that the company was in a state of transition and was about to be turned on its head.

Letting the cat out of the bag

Even though you may not know it there is one thing about HP that makes them stand out among the rest: serious innovation. Backed by a $3.5+ billion dollar R&D budget, HP labs was generating an average of eleven unique patents a day. We’re not talking about “supply chain innovations” either; they are sitting on a treasure trove of product innovations with massive potential. For me, getting a ticket into HP Labs would be like Charlie getting a ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory. I was relentless... Yes, HP was/is the company that both my brother and I agreed is the perfect match for Voodoo.

It was only until the final tour stage there was an after party near the Champs-Elysees in Paris. There was a lady at the event by the name of Dana from HP’s marketing department (she’ll be pleasantly surprised when she reads this). I figured that was a good time to float some of our ideas and she seemed extremely receptive. She was very up front and honest as she told me of their challenges in gaming. She agreed that we should have further discussions with them. After I returned to Calgary we exchanged a few emails and things went silent.

…things were silent up until a couple of major ODM’s called, not to mention Michael Dell phoning on Remembrance Day. At that point we knew we were on the right track, but still my brother and I could only agree on one thing: We needed to finish our discussions with HP.

Assuming that they didn’t have much of a choice we speculated that Alienware would be acquired by Dell. After the speculation went public we thought it would make sense to get back in touch with HP. We figured Mark Hurd had almost a year to settle in and we were hoping for good things.

My opinions of Mark Hurd

My understanding of Mark Hurd based on the stories I’ve heard and read of him is that he is not your average leader; He is quick to make business decisions, but understated when it comes to "glory". There is a great story I heard that when Mark Hurd came on board he took down Carly’s pictures that hung in the front lobby of all HP buildings and left William Hewlett and David Packard’s pictures hanging saying, “This is really their company, I am just here to look after things for awhile.” Mark Hurd believes he is just another cog in the machine. He’s a bloody modest cog that's for damn sure. He gives full credit to HP’s current success to everyone around him (including Carly).

Much to our satisfaction, under Mark Hurd HP is a totally different company from a year ago. While there are mixed opinions, I believe Carly Fiona helped to create the groundwork for HP’s success today – but from the outside the organization seemed to lack operational efficiency. Mark Hurd brought with him a tornado of new blood and new culture into the company. From my point of view, Mark Hurd has turned HP’s corporate culture on its head and in the process transformed HP into an operationally excellent engine.

All it took was one email to Mr. Hurd with a short explanation of our strategy and all of the sudden the sea was parted and we had people contacting us. It was clear that Mark Hurd doesn't mess around. I’ll make some introductions later, but as I understand it Todd Bradley was immediately put on the case, and hours after assigning it to Paul Campbell he jokingly called Paul out in a meeting by saying “You’re late, what’s happening!” For those of you who don’t know, HP is broken up into various organizations and Todd Bradley is “the CEO” of the Personal Systems Group (PSG), one of three divisions at HP.

Some personal introductions to HP

There are some amazing people working at HP, many of whom I cannot introduce as it would take far too many pages. Without getting down into the details I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce some of the management we met along the way.

Over the past few months we have been in discussions with HP in order to figure out the best way to create a functionally symbiotic relationship.

Paul Campbell was the first person to get in contact with us. Paul was leading a gaming initiative within HP and quickly became an evangelist for Voodoo + HP . Paul may not admit it publicly but internally at HP he was key to driving this deal and breaking down barriers. Paul helped loosen people up to the idea of this relationship, so we were blown away to learn that he is a 20 year veteran at HP. Paul has seen the good and the bad, the thick and the thin, and he cited massive changes since Mark Hurd took over. Paul is a quintessential example of how HP’s corporate culture has changed under new management and surfaced some of its best talent.

Our first in-person meeting with Todd Bradley was a refreshing one to say the least. Todd Bradley is well respected in the industry, and he knows how to build a business and make it successful – When you get a chance, Google Todd Bradley and check out his resume.

To put this into perspective many people don’t realize that HP is the number one consumer PC company in the world. They are number one on consumer notebooks and number one on consumer desktops. Todd effectively runs a thirty billion+ business for HP. The day we met Todd he walked into the board room and propped himself up on the counter and spent some time with Ravi and I for an informal chat. Todd Bradley is a great speaker, he understands his business, and best of all - he surrounds himself with incredibly smart people.

We met Satjiv Chahil who previously served on Apple’s executive committee and is now the Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for PSG. The first thing Satjiv did when he came into the boardroom was show us the new “Computer is Personal” videos. After the viewing and looking at some of the other marketing campaigns his team had been working on, both my brother and I were ready to get up and hug the man. (Ravi won’t admit it, but if you poke him enough he might ? )

We held our composure as he spoke and reeled us in even further. He told us of how some people commented that “Hewlett and Packard would be rolling in their graves if they saw this.” Satjiv’s response was something like this (edited for content) “Back in 1939 when William Hewlett and David Packard founded this company in a garage they were kicking ass – that’s what we strive to do today.”

Last but certainly not least is Phil McKinney, HP’s CTO for the PSG. Phil was one of the most influential people at HP behind this ground-breaking decision. Phil sat down with Ravi, Trevor and I individually in Calgary. Phil and I had an open discussion about our motivations. His motivations are mainly to effect significant and noticeable changes in the world as it relates to technology – He is not money motivated and that really hit home with me. Phil is a brilliant guy, if you get a chance to meet him you’ll understand what I’m saying. I am certain that we are going to work really well together.

Do you see where this is going? HP’s management team is comprised of a totally focused, forward thinking group of people. With a little bit of oil and elbow grease they are getting rid of the excess inefficiencies that the company has gained over the years. Under Mark Hurd and Todd Bradley HP is transforming into the most deadly PC company in the world. They also share a common goal with us at Voodoo.

Although on the IT side, HP is the #1 infrastructure provider for on-line gaming, it's no secret that HP’s familiarity with gaming PCs is limited so they saw value in the Voodoo brand and our team. We saw immense value in their scale, manufacturing expertise, leverage, buying power, and most of all INNOVATION. We both feel that it is important to maintain a veil of autonomy with the Voodoo brand while allowing us to plug our brand DNA into the HP gaming organization.

HP Innovation

HP was founded on a heritage of innovation and invention. HP has many innovations that are just dying to see the light of day but until now many factors prevented them from bringing such products to market. If you’re attending the launch party in New York then you’ll see some preliminary concepts that HP had cooking in their labs (or should I say our labs now?).

HP is hungry for new innovations, and if you can imagine what plugging our corporate DNA into their labs would do – well, you get the picture. We are now in the position to create absolutely fantastic products in all categories. Voodoo and HP are complimentary opposites. This deadly combination of Voodoo’s gaming/luxury PC expertise and our brand DNA and influence, with HP’s innovations, scale, and leverage is going to lead to some of the most compelling machines money can buy.

With the help of a few good people at HP I will now be taking the position of Chief Technologist for the Gaming Division Worldwide. Ravi will take the position as the Director of Strategy & Marketing for the Gaming Division Worldwide. For what it’s worth the gaming division consists of VoodooPC and HP gaming products. We also have no intentions of leaving our home in Calgary.

Both Ravi and I will report to Phil McKinney.

Voodoo will remain in Calgary and we shall continue to create premium luxury machines with more levels of personalization, and more features than we currently offer. Our strategy for the HP gaming portfolio is yet to be revealed – but expect the unexpected. I will continue to write for CPU Magazine and Custom PC Magazine, and I will likely invite more people to help contribute to the blog. The bottom line: On behalf of Ravi, Trevor, Paul, Desmond, Angela, and the rest of the Voodoo team we are happy to report that HP has acquired Voodoo - and together – not separately - we are going to rock your world.

I told you that this would wind up being an interesting year.
  • This is a deal about innovating our product line, not our supply chain.
  • Voodoo and HP are working together, not separately, to make this acquisition successful.
  • The fact that there is gaming business unit that answers to the CTO (FYI, a CTO who pulled himself out of retirement for this job) of PSG, rather than an accounting department, proves that this is a true testament to innovation.
  • The fact that Ravi and I are taking senior roles in the gaming business proves that the Voodoo brand DNA will be integral to the entire worldwide gaming unit.
  • Voodoo will remain in Calgary. Past customers, current customers, and future customers will receive the same or better level of experience, quality, and service.
  • Voodoo now has the keys to a 3.5B R&D lab and under Rahul Sood we will be sure to leverage the kick-ass innovations that the PHD's within labs are conjuring up.
  • As the Chief Technologist of worldwide gaming I will also sit on the R&D council at HP Personal Systems Group. You can expect to see our fingerprints on many of the product lines in other areas of Hewlett-Packard.
Last thing, I wanted to take this opportunity to invite those of you with extensive industry experience to drop me your CV/Resume via email. We are specifically looking for people interested in product development as it relates to gaming (this includes people internal to the organization). Those of you who are looking for a career in other areas will need to contact our human resources department and we will provide that contact information at a later date. Please send all press requests to pr at voodoopc.com.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to add your comments and questions now.

80 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congrats Rahul and to everyone at Voodoo, you guys definitely made the right decision to go with HP!

Does this mean you're going to stop blogging on this webpage??? I can only speak for myself, but your insights and explanations for the state of the industry are fantastic and I would love to continue reading them.

Thanks,
Mike Lee

cadaveca said...

Nice job. I thought something was afoot.

Trentent said...

Congrats

Brian said...

Congrats Rahul. Smart move IMO, and best of luck to all of ya. You and Ravi moving out here to the Bay Area? ;) Wanna hire me? :D

Gene said...

Welcome to hp, hope to see you around the Labs soon!

Jon said...

+1 Welcome to HP!

Anonymous said...

This is awesome news! I'm happy for you and for one of my favorite companies, HP. This will make things a lot more interesting in the industry.

Anonymous said...

This is awesome news! Should make things a lot more interesting in the industry. Must be a happy day for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Rahul!

I can't wait to see what you do with AMD's 65nm quadcores!

Gaming/Media Center?

LittleLarry

DJ Mountney said...

For at least four years, Voodoo has been an obsession of mine. It progresses from being a dream of owning one... to being a dream of working for Voodoo. For a long time I've been burning with a desire to have the world see Voodoo. HP would not have been perdicted in the past. But HP has changed. And I love the possibilities for you guys!! I just hope Voodoo does not loose its uniqueness and commitment to customizing.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I was linked to your blog from an interesting Gizmodo article. As a business student and avid computer user (albeit Mac) I think that this union between HP and Voodoo is quite exceptional. I am very eager to see what new products you will be rolling out. I might *ahem* even consider purchasing one. In any event, kudos and good luck!

Regards,
Matt Menaquale

piro said...

Well done. This is deffinately a new era in the gaming industry.

Anonymous said...

What a time to move to HP, amidst the congressional hearings and the pretexting scandal.

Obviously, this deal didn't get board of director's approval or it would've been leaked, wouldn't it?

I must admit that my distate for HP is at an all-time high.

Rahul, I am disappointed. HP is a shadow of the company it was, and can no longer claim technology or R&D leadership in anything except maybe DRM'ed inkjets and printers.

Just one question ... are you sure you haven't been pretexted as part of a 'routine' and 'legal' background check before your entry into the fold? They seem to like doing that to people they talk to.

sixteenbit said...

congratulations. i hope the marriage lives up to the hype.

Gabe said...

Just wanted to say congratulations, great story and the whole situation is just badass altogether. Talk about inspiration! Keep up the great work and have a great time doing it, that is true success. Cheers!

wilkie said...

i think it's spelt Carly FioRIna...not Carly Fiona hehe :D

Anonymous said...

Hrmm will I end up with support calls going to an HP call center in india? Not that I've ever had to call for support to knwo where the current voodoo support line is located,,,

Goolic said...

Holy Shit ... NOW I can´t find an excuse not to buy one of your pc´s ... (Except money;) )

You guys Kick ass ...

And please ask the R&E to make fast printersa... not just awsome quality ones .. ( Less $$$ for ink won´t hurt either)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations - apart from their R&D, HP is one of the single digit large companies in the PC industry that knows how to build a true brand. Not just throw price off ads at consumers. It will be extremely interesting to see how the Voodoo & HP brands synergise. I also hope Voodoo will make a transition over time into emerging markets and help drive "gaming cool" and the perception that the PC isn't just a cheap grey commoditized box to end users.

This is great news! Rock on dude...


http://sharikou180.blogspot.com
(A more balanced point of view.)

Anonymous said...

Didn't you say you would not settle for a check.. Well??

I think you just sold out your brand.. Voodoo and ATI are dying slowly... What a waste!

real said...

Major congrats on this major event.
I can say from reading your blog and magazine articles for some time now that you spend alot of time anaylizing the industry from the point of view of what is good for the consumer. I appreciat the approach that taking care of the consumer is more important than taking care of the company becuase if the customer is taken care of the company will be to.
I expect to see some major innovation in the pc gaming and power user sector because of this new business relationship.

Sh'Nilz said...

Dude you didn't read the article- Voodoo isn't dying- it's the same company with access to far more resources. If anything, voodoo is being reborn. It's not just a check.

Nice work rahul

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting and quite telling that even with what should be great news Rahul cannot help himself from taking shots at AW/Dell several times.

E-Penis envy is a bad thing.

Good luck though...you're going to need it with that company.

Hope you didn't sell for options. Those are going to plummet in coming weeks.

Anonymous said...

Sweeet!
Congrats on landing the sweet deal.

Anonymous said...

All will be well (tons of cash for R&D exciting products, etc.) util the next season of cutting costs, jobs and in general reorganizing. It's the way all big companies work... Voodoo will live on for a while but in the long run, as all good projects will dissapear. Pretty sad that all young an innovating companies are being gobbled up by the big guys. Voodoo+HP and Alienware+Dell = less innovation long term = we lose. Sad.

Heron Kusanagi said...

We still wouldn't know until the dust settles. For now, the question is still up in the air, whether Dell or HP will benefit from their respective deals, but there can still be other independent makers emerging out...

Anyway, I hope things get better and better for Voodoo. :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!

Treowth

Colin said...

Congratulations Rahul. Smart move. You will be able to influence an entire industry from your new vantage point, instead of just a luxury niche. I'll be the salary is less attractive though.

Naveen said...

Congratulations rahul. Is HP going to retain the Voodoo brand ?? I guess it would be hard for you to let go of that nice logo :)

Anonymous said...

Not sure about the influence a Voodoo employee can have in a company like HP. In a F500 company like HP, decisions take months to make, research is done, and the financial impact is calculated. Voodoo (or Alienware, Falcon NW, Velocity Micro, or any small leading edge company) can make a decision to change a product one day, and have it up on the web the next - costs or impact to the company's product line be damned. The only real innovation HP and Dell are looking for in their purchases is a brand name, not someone to sit in meetings and say "Ya know what would be cool..."

Nikolaus Heger said...

When I saw the new HP ad campaign - the computer is personal again - the font kinda reminded me of voodoo PC. I had two confilicting thoughts: "cool" and "kinda stealing the cool from voodoo/gaming PCs". Now it all makes sense :)

Good luck unlocking HP's secret R&D labs - those guys need to get out in the open. I used to bike by HP / Palo Alto and their R&D labs are in fact HUGE. To see some of that brainpower applied to gaming / personal PCs is cool.

Good for Voodoo, but even better for HP.

cortinala said...

is the taiwanese OEM asus or dfi?

hoss said...

Grats... think this will make you a very happy man.. but I have only two words... NO COMPROMISES :)

muziqaz said...

I am sad that your company sold out to hp ;/
I truely hope this thing turns out in a good way.I really do.

Though dell now is really under threat :)

KJ said...

Nice to hear you're staying in Calgary.

Anonymous said...

Good luck

Did you take a long hard look at other companies bought by HP ?
If not - do.

Hope it all works out for you.

S said...

Strange that you want to leverage on HP Innovation to strengthen Voodoo brand. Large corporations like HP are slow in innovation due to the built-in inertia their size brings. Such companies usually look to foster innovation by acquiring small and nimble companies like yours.

Best of luck anyway. I hope you will get best out of this deal.

One more note. If HP has leadership in consumer PCs, it is only because they are sold in brick & mortar stores. Do you really believe that their PCs are significantly better than Dell's ?

IT Kitty Cat said...

I would like to say congrats but not sure the future would be as great as you may be imagining it. History says that when a big company buys a small company, chances are that the brand of the smaller company either dies or gets diluted.

I loved Voodoo because it was special, small, innovative, and it stands out. Now, it seems it will become a part of beauracracy which makes you shout in a black hole where big guys can not hear..

My analysis is the gaming industry is getting so huge and HP needed an answer to Dell's XPS.

I worked at HP at the time Carly started transforming the company from the HP way to what it is now. HP became a company where it cares about the dollar and innovation took second place.

I just hope you did calculate this very carefully and the check did not sway your decision.. But only time will tell if this was a good move.

Good luck

Hindsited said...

Congratulations & I hope everything works out for the company. In mind Voodoopc has been the true standard of what a pc gaming or otherwise should be. I am heart broken that the only way to move to that other level was to merge or sell your company,howervr this is business and your lives and you have to do what is best for the Voodoopc brand.
I hope it brings you great dividends, you deserve it. Rahul I wish your family and staff even more success in the coming future..I for one look forward to what comes next.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Not sure if i'm extremely happy or extremely sad. I would choose HP over Dell any day and voodoopc over AW. I hope you cont to be the voodoopc we all know and love. Look FWD to getting a new HP/Voodoopc.


Congrats
-Chris

Anonymous said...

Congratulations... but watch out.

One problem with big companies is the lack of corporate attention span.
It takes long-term committment to build credibility and great products.

You have done it with Voodoo, but I'm not sure HP can do it anymore.

I remember seeing their name on medical equipment hooked up to family
members in the hospital, and knowing they were in good hands.

But then they pawned their crown jewels, pissed away HPUX and PA-RISC,
and went from a leader to a follower in the process. Technically, Compaq
knifed DEC Alpha before HP bought them, but this was close enough in time
that it was likely a precondition of the deal. Now they're just another
x86 shop.

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Congrats Rahul,
will you guys ever disclose how much HP bought Voodoo for? :)

Chip Poutine said...

I've always been a Voodoo PC guy on a Dell budget. I know its not about supply chain, but hopefully HP's buying power will finally bring me back from the dark side.

Let me be another to say its great you're staying in Calgary - you do this city proud!

Anonymous said...

Right on - I saw the news and immediately felt happy for Voodoo and HP - I've worked for HP, and I love the culture. Here's to your continued success. :) --Ben

Anonymous said...

Good job, Rahul! And Good luck with HP.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rahul, just saw the news about HP. Can't say it was something I expected. After talking to you at E3 I was convinced you guys would remain independent. From your blog post, I understand you're happy about the way
the deal was structured and the way the future is formulated, and you strike me as the homework-doing type, so I'm pretty sure this wasn't anything you entered into lightly. Still, it was a big surprise, though maybe it
shouldn't have been. Just last night I was tooling around with a brand spankin' top of the line HP laptop, and was *very* impressed with the improvements they'd made in terms of design and making it a truly consumer friendly media and gaming machine. My thought ran something along the lines of "wow, the boutique PC gaming guys better watch their backs. Looks like the behemoth has learned some pretty damn interesting tricks."

In any case, the more I think about it, the more fruitful it seems this partnership could be, but of course, only if they let you keep your head. If they can handle the novelty and the gnarl, you guys should make some
beautiful music together. Get them out into the deep water and you can take the world out there too.

Best,
scott alexander
Playboy Magazine

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the HP family!

Make sure you talk to folks about making your very fine products available to employees through the Employee Purchase Plan. :)

kshipper said...

Holy ! I would have never dreamed this would happen. I thought Voodoo was big enough that it didn't need any help or partners? You clawed your way near the top of your market. You refused to cheapen your brand by lowering prices (good). You maintained high margins but funneled the extra markup into customer service and extras that only a Voodoo customer saw ONCE they become a customer. Oragami with PC cabling for starters! What customer really knew what they were going to get until they got their system and cracked the side open to take a look?

I can't see how your new job could be more exciting then your current job. Oh sure--HP is all smiles as you come on board, but what happens when a few of your new bosses have a bad day and decide YOU are to blame. I can't see you standing there and taking it. What if you get fed up? You can't leave...your company is in bed with HP now. If the suits decide to override your call and go another direction you will only be one voice in a sea of many. I can't see (yes I read your post) how any of the HP R&D is really worth it.

I gather you got bored and are looking for a new challenge? /shrug

This really reminds me of last months story when Mark and Bruce from SysInternals joined Microsoft.
http://www.sysinternals.com/Blog/

All the best to you man but I can't say I am as happy as you seem to be at the moment. I hope you keep in touch with us and continue to Blog (uncensored)

I have owned two Voodoos systems starting with Windows ME and your company is the reason I decided to open my own little computer business in my city. I decided to go out and make a difference with my own passion for computer gaming in a sea of integrated video and Celerons and service & sell to customers wondering why their computers suck. The poor customers think that is the way it is---they have no idea what you can do with a computer that is made up of high end components. It takes education and that is something you can't do from a Dell/Future Shop flyer (price price price only advertising)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I just looked at your site. Your products are just as overpriced as Alienware. You're lucky there are a lot of dumb, lazy, rich bastards out there, or you'd be out of business. It takes half a brain and half the money to build something comparable to the crap you have to offer. But, you got your golden ticket, so grats.

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...

Wow, I just looked at your site. Your products are just as overpriced..."

Blah blah blah.

You are either an industry wart who is about to dry up because you have lost innovation (or never had it) and because your business acumen is about as pointed as a golf ball or you are a consumer that makes retailers turn in disgust. Your social network probably consists of a peanut butter sandwich, reruns of Springer, and a couple of aspirin so life's weight can be temporarily lifted.

If you actually could see value in what companies like Voodoo achieve, and realize their progression evolves the larger companies (HP, Dell, Lenovo) you would realize why most people here think you are a complete asshat. Step back into the Walmart half hour lineup and get that new piece of 2 year old technology for half price - and make sure to bitch like a whiney kid when it breaks in 2 months. Have fun at the checkout. No one will care if you come back.

Ry

Anonymous said...

Good Job Voda! They spelt your name wrong again!

Lauren said...

I was at the New York event last night, and was completely blown away by everything. Not just the dramatic smokey announcement, but actually going into that gaming room and getting to see some of these machines, and play with them. (albeit, i was having trouble awakening the laptop from sleep mode- thank you for your help in my moment of blonde) But congratulations are certianly in order. I spent today excited, reading up on your blog, on the pr surrounding this acquisition, on everything i could to deicde what the next steps will be- where this partnership will lead. (and building the voodoo machine of my dreams) Truly exciting... and nothing but the best of luck to all involved!

Anonymous said...

I also don't understand what R&D HP has that will contribute to gaming computer innovation...graphics nVidia & ATI...motherboard ASUS...chipsets Intel & AMD etc...cases Lian Li. What Voodoo had was attention to customer needs. I don't see that continuing with a large company like HP.

Well it could have been worse I suppose...selling Voodoo to Sun!!!

Anonymous said...

I had worked @ HP for many years until I was recently laid off (prior to 2000 corporate layoffs never occurred at Hewlett Packard). I strongly disapprove of how the company has been ran the past 6 years (including the current scandal) - it is contrary to how the founders, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, would have done things. Yet I am still a fanatic when it comes to Hewlett Packard. I do think Dave and Bill would have approved of this "marriage" - as long as it is creating something NEW and NEEDED they were always for it. Your systems are not for the average gamer - there is a culture out there of hardcore gamers and techies looking for the uber-system. I hope you put all that innovation to work! Just one thing - be sure to pick up the book The HP Way by Dave Packard and read it cover to cover. Hewlett-Packard has a strong history and from what I have read in your past blogs you would fit in nicely with Dave's vision. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

So what's next, Gateway acquiring Falcon-Northwest?

It's a shame IMO. I hope you can prove me wrong, but until then I suspect we'll all be looking at Falcon for innovation.

Michael Beck said...

Saying congrats after 54 comments becomes redundant, but congrats anyway. I can't say that I'm surprised this has happened after Dell acquired Alienware. It's like AMD acquiring ATi. Intel will more than likely acquire nVidia.

Now, if I could just get in on some of this action myself... (ponders shameless resume plug... declined).

Well done. Please continue to innovate. I wish I could afford one of your systems. :-)

MrBastage said...

Rahul and Voodoo,

Wow, I must say I was blown away when Wendy came into my home office yesterday and told me of this deal. Then she told me about the R&D budget. My eyes glazed over and I thought about what that could bring to the table for Voodoo. Holy crap, I thought, if we think Voodoo has cool stuff now, wait and see what will happen when Rahul gets his hands on even a small piece of that budget!

I see a lot of people here poopooing the idea. Not me dude. I think it's an amazing opportunity for Voodoo and the gaming community in general. I personally think it was Voodoo that helped mainstream liquid cooled gaming PCs, now everyone's doing it. What's next ion propulsion drive PSUs? :)

So here are personal congrats from me to you and your team Rahul. I think this will be wonderful not only for you and your employees, but we gaming PC enthusiasts as well. Rock on brother!

Greg/MrBastage

RichardatDELL said...

Dear Rahul

Wow that is a big move for VooDoo and a most interesting Blog. Glad you and HP understand what we have known for more than a year. Good luck in catching up because Dell and Alienware have no intention of letting our leadership in this field slip. However, we wish you well. Also glad you solved, with this sale, the supply chain issues that were so troubling to VooDoo.

Its ironic that the last time we were in touch when you blogged about Dell. In retrospect, must have been about the same time you were finalizing the deal to sell out to HP. At the time, I suggested your commentary was motivated more out competitiveness than it was any solid industry insight. This announcement certainly makes that blog content seem pretty ironic.

The comments about innovation were interesting. Rahul, hoping the HP labs stay in good shape, given your anticipated leadership. You know we just announced hiring 500 additional engineers for our Austin design center (that is not supply chain related by the way). In fact, in the past year, Dell has hired approximately 15,000 workers worldwide, about the same number that one of our major competitors have let go.

While Dell's business model has created our advantages in areas like supply chain management and efficiency, it has also resulted in fast time-to-market with newer technology and innovative/differentiated products.

For example I haven’t see HP break out of the box and produce something like the Dell’s XPS M2010, have you?

It is because of our advantaged business models and direct customer relationships, that Dell is able to introduce the latest relevant technology much more quickly than companies with slow-moving, indirect distribution channels.

In fact, that is why we continue to be about three steps ahead of HP and now VooDoo. You know our XPS product line just celebrated its one year anniversary with a gaming competition here in Austin. And, Michael was a keynote speaker at a recent gaming conference.

What you hope to achieve at HP is what we are already doing at Dell...and have been for some time. Because the PC gaming market continues to grow, Dell introduced its XPS products over a year ago to ensure our higher-end products met the needs of all types of gamers from the casual game player to the most dedicated and hardcore.

That was followed by our purchase of Alienware, the market leader in your segment.

Not only are we leading with innovative technology, bringing gaming technology to the PC, but we and Alienware are both market leaders who are building for the future, together and already.

We have to wish VooDoo well working up through the tech labs and product group to hopefully get some product "innovations" included. Like I said, XPS already does that and we don’t have to work the various groups because Dell already understands this.

For all you said about Michael, you forgot to mention he is an avid gamer. He knows technology and he is on the cutting edge. We understand the linkages from gaming to PC to market and solid products for customers.

So while your Mark Hurd is “bringing operational excellence” to HP, Michael and team have already got a good year or more head start down this path. We dont need to "make the case" inside our business about the value of the gaming technologies or business. And we expect to continue our market and technology leadership with Alienware.

The PC is really only personal again when the customer can customize their own product, directly with the manufacturer of the product. Its personal because consumers buy technology they want and need versus what is on the shelf of some store or old tech being cleared from inventory.

Good luck

James King said...

I have to be honest... my first thought was that this was a quick and easy way to abandon the PC gaming market because of the challenge being presented by the new generation of consoles. But, thinking about it, this deal is very good for both sides... the chance to bring out ridiculously cutting edge stuff that Voodoo normally wouldn't be able to invest in and a kick-ass brand that will allow HP to take chances that it normally wouldn't take with its own brand. I'm a bit shocked but gladdened to see that this isn't just about deepening your pockets, its a real attempt to blaze new ground.

We spoke several years ago about developing a product together but I couldn't get things moving on my end. I hope you'll be interested in giving me another chance to work with you and your team. Contact me at mach_omega AT fastmail.us if only just to catch up. Congrats on your success, I've always been a big fan of Voodoo (though I STILL can't afford one of your machines, haha).

Anonymous said...

I hope the lot of you can work with graphics card developers to design a laptop that has two DVI ports. I feel like I've been waiting for an enternity for the ability to hook up two 19 inch external monitors to a laptop.

Best of luck in your new partnership.

Taylor Martin said...

After owning a voodoo rage for over two years now and having purchased the computer and recieved support directly from you Rahul I have not doubt that you will succeed wherever you go. Be sure to take the voodoo spirt to the masses and use HP's resources to the fullest in developing new technologies for the voodoo lineup. Just remember that it is what you have done in the past that has gotten you where you are. Good luck to you and your brother and to all of the voodoo team in your new endeavor.

Anonymous said...

This is in response to richardatdell.

Will Dell Tell Forum Members the Truth?
Reader post by: gbakmars
Posted on: July 18, 2006, 10:00 AM PDT
Story: Dell says XPS 700 shipments to start next week
On July 3 I began a thread that I knew would draw some response, but I had no idea that it would grow to become, what probably is the longest thread in Dell Community Forum history. Maybe any forum for that matter. Now with 90 pages and 900 posts, it has become very clear that Dell owes these customers not only an explanation, but Dell needs to make amends, and for beginners, allow all XPS 700 customers to modify their orders from the OLD pentium D processors that they were sold nearly 2 months ago, and instead build the orders with today's technology. Dell is now advertising the XPS 700 as a Revised XPS 700 with Intel's Core 2 CPU. Orders that were placed that have the Pentium D need to be changed to the Core 2 in light of Dell's long delay. If you ordered the 965 EE, then Dell needs to modify the order and allow the customer to receive an xps 700 with the Core Duo Extreme. The forum members came up with 7 very specific questions that they have asked Dell to answer, and they are still waiting. And in the meantime, over 25 cancellations have been posted, and that number is quickly rising. When customers contact Dell, every imaginable answer is given, when in reality the forum members believe that Dell is failing to be honest with them. Most forum members would agree that Dell would help their customer image if they would do the right thing. Though the forum members are rightly angered, they are trying hard to help Dell restore their loyalty.

James Wiswell said...

Sounds like Richard from Dell is smoking a crack pipe. I ordered a Dell XPS 700 which wasn't delivered after almost 90 days(wow, you guys really know gaming!) then I ordered an OMEN and got it within 35. Looks like Dell needs more help than Voodoo.

Let's all hope that those 500 engineers you hired will prevent your laptops from being used as hand grenades :)

Anonymous said...

The people who think that now Voodoo can come out with even cooler things because they have access to a larger r\d budget are way off.

Voodoo pc's will be plastic and be $1999 with a free printer in about 12 months and Raul will most likely leave in 6 months or whenever his options vest.

This is not an insult, it is the way the industry works

Anonymous said...

WOW,
Can I get a refund? I purchased one of your laptops at the beginning of the year, it has served me very well. I bought it because I loved the company; it was small and represented quality. When I called to get updated on it's progress, I even talked to you personally once or twice. This action has completely destroyed my pride in owning a Voodoo. HP represents the bottom of the computer industry. They use the cheapest parts they can find and have some of the worst tech support in the industry and I would never purchace or recomend a computer from this company to anyone.

Well, anyway, kudos to you and all the money you're going to make, but my next laptop is going to be a Falcon (unless they sell out too) =(

Rahul Sood said...

Thanks to all of those who are supportive of this venture. We have our work cut out for us, but the fact that *everyone* I have formally met so far at HP buys into our strategy should make things relatively simple.

As I'm sure any great business person will tell you, it's important to have buy-in on a major strategy such as this before you execute... Everyone at Voodoo is stoked, and in fact we have old employees coming back for new jobs.

For those of you who aren't sure what to make of it, give us a chance - you need to know that I won't sleep at night until I see HP become the ultimate leader in this space. HP has more potential to get there than anyone else. Their corporate culture is *absolutely* amazing - everyone loves the company...

:)

HCA said...

I expect only vast improvments in innovation from both companies. I have been a Mutthaboard follower for close to 4 years now and I know Rahul would never enter a deal where Voodoo was at risk at all. I think this was the best move both parties could have made. I'm looking forward to seeing what products both parties put out in the future. (I think the colour scheme on the OMEN above this entry is gorgeous. Is it Candy Apple or some custom colour?) I'm looking forward to purchasing my first Voodoo in the comming months and I expect the experience will be the same if not better than it would of been a month ago. Goodbye for now.

alex said...

Will this affect the way that VoodooPC's are sold around the world?

I sell consumer dt/nb pc's in Australia (HP, Compaq, Acer) and have been dreaming of the day when I would be able to stop telling people that a x200 is a great video card for gaming.

Personally, I like the HP brand, and quality, but I don't like the crappy support, annoying specifications and nonexistant sales support.

I wish you guys all the best and hopefully you can make a positive impression on the company.

D said...

Rahul (and Ravi),

I read this blog with an open mind, thought about it for a while, and had to come back and say my feelings, which I'm sure will be the last time I say anything here, you'll be happy to know.

No doubt this acquisition will improve Voodoo's ability to make better PC's. But maybe that's wrong. I didn't see a whole lot of innovation spring forth from Voodoo in a long time and it seems like most of the resources that Voodoo accumulated were spent on marketing and bling, not "How are we going to make this machine scream?"

Before you comment, I ask - what is innovative about an Omen anymore? Water cooling? Paint jobs? Nothing that anyone else can't do. Packaging? Wow. Laser cut chassis? Whoop. What about the machine?

I suspect that Voodoo will lose even more of it's personal touch since Ravi and Rahul will probably never be around the shop to take care of things like they once did before this last year and a half when there was this huge push for "innovation" (loosely translates to 'How are we gonna line our pockets?').

Call it what you will, but the truth of the matter is that this only benefits Rahul's and Ravi's pocketbooks. Undoubtedly both will move on to bigger and better places and fondly look back to the simpler and more enjoyable days when they worked out of a dumpy old house in downtown Calgary.

HP will gradually siphon away the attention of Ravi and Rahul to HP's products. The jewel of Calgary is now tarnished with a big nasty tan-colored stain.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I am not proud of your little company any more. Whatever happened to making it on your own? Or is selling your soul to someone with a big lab and deep pockets 'making it'?

All in all it's a big disappointment. Another innovative Canadian company whored out to the big American giants. Hope your pocketbook is happy, Rahul. Hey, it's YOUR company, you can do what you want with it right? Welcome to the corporate world.

P.S.
I'm not anti-Voodoo. I'm PRO-Voodoo. But the Voodoo of ten years ago is no more. I see none of the cool things from days gone by when I look at Voodoo these days. I see computers aimed for rich, dumb CEO's and rap stars. Rahul, Ravi, you guys have sold out your honour. Let's hope you're gone enough now so that your remaining lieutenants can regain some dignity for what's left of Voodoo.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rahul,

Your story is an inspiration to many. To the last commenter, that's a typical "pro-canadian" reaction. As a Canadian myself I am proud that a company like HP would team up with Voodoo in order to create new innovations.

Rahul, ignore the naysayers, as you can tell from the media there are far too many supporters on this deal.

d said...

Pro-Canadian hmmm?

Let's see how you feel when your company is sold to an American (or any other country's) firm and your job is then eventually outsourced to India.

How is the story of Voodoo inspirational now? It WAS at one time. Now it's taken the beaten path and has an all-too-familiar storyline:

1. One man starts tiny, innovative company. Brother joins company.

2. Company grows, flourishes, and garners accolades worldwide.

3. Company tries and tries to make itself more innovative, but gives up and shifts its focus to marketing.

4. Company then decides that it can't make a big enough impact on it's own and sells out to big, lazy, brand name company.

5. Two hard working innovative men now line their pockets with scraps from big lazy company.

It's a sad, disappointing story, far from inspirational. I know that any story can be looked in a multitude of ways, but from where I see it, it's really sad. It would have been a better story if it progressed like this:

3. Company works hard at innovating, and after a multitude of failures makes a breakthrough in PC design. Continued breakthroughs inspire other startup companies and small players in the business to achieve and succeed.

4. Company gains enough market share to rival key players in industry. Continued partnership with smaller manufacturers, startup engineering firms, and outspoken industry players breaks big slothful firms.

5. Company owners retire filthy rich, knowing they were inspirational and helped a lot of good people in the process.

How do you define success? I guess that's where you set your vantage point on this story - on how you define success. To me, being acquired by a big fat corporation is a failure on many levels. To others, this will be a story of success.

Some people see it as some level of achievement - for me, I see it as another coup for big corporate America. I'm pro little-guy. Little guys make the world go round, big guys like Dell and HP just swallow the little guys and slowly stagnate until they gobble up another new little guy once again.

No matter how you slice it, this has now become a story about HP, and Voodoo will become a blip in HP history. Maybe Voodoo will be afforded a paragraph of note in some chapter in some book about HP that will come out in the future.

Rahul, I bet when you were young and fresh and starting out that you promised yourself that you'd never sell yourself out. Now what?

Anonymous said...

D

You have said it all and very eloquently. I think that unfortunately you will be proven correct. I wish it were otherwise.

Rahul in the post above talks about "our strategy". I hope he can outline his strategy to help us understand. So far I have only seen an emphasis on R&D and it does not appear that many see the logic in that.

Anonymous said...

"D" only whines because he wishes he had a piece of this pie; if even a slice of this Corporate-made, American apple pie.

He probably owns a small coffee shop in Canada that averages 25 customers a day.

Keep dreaming that Starbucks will come along to gobble you up. Until then, you can only dream of purchasing a Voodoo PC.

Eric Kintz said...

Rahul,

Congrats for this great deal and welcome to the HP blogging family!
Eric

Anonymous said...

With all this new capitol and increased buying power you have now.Maybe now you could possibly make some products that common man could afford to buy?

Thusenth said...

I believe a critical aspect of this acquisition resides on the notebook side of things. EVERYONE is going notebook, and there has been a sway towards Apple and their offerings lately because of the sheer fact that all of their laptops (even the 17") are all lightweight, powerful machines in a clean industrial design. Even their bottom end offers Mini-DVI.

A company like Voodoo will have a hard time competing with competitors like Apple in the long-run if they don't find the ability to develop laptops from the bottom up. Repackaging whiteboxes like Asus can only compete for so long.

Do you really think a company like Voodoo would offer VGA outputs, serial ports, and paralallel outputs if they didn't have to?

Notebooks must represent at least 60% or more now of sales.

Anonymous said...

RichardatDell, you sure put your foot in your mouth didn't you?

Anonymous said...

RichardatDell, you sure put your foot in your mouth didn't you?

Anonymous said...

RichardatDell, you sure put your foot in your mouth didn't you?

gaurav said...

hi.i just wanted to know if you had any plans of launching your pc's in India.Also plz let me know if you have already done so.If not then i have a business proposal for you which we can discuss if you are interested.