Parallels Summit 2012: Q&A, Birger Steen

We spoke to the CEO of Parallels about how his vision for the company is panning out and what he still wants to achieve.

For me personally, being able to use a powerful and light and pretty laptop that people want to talk to me about is an indispensable sales tool. I'm using this [MacBook] and everyone can see I'm running Windows on it. I almost don't take a flight without selling a copy of Parallels. Someone will sit next to me and say are you running Windows? I didn't know you could do that!

Prior to Parallels you were at Microsoft, but where else could you see yourself?

One thing I discussed with my family, but it became a short discussion, was I crossed paths with a gentleman by the name of Percy Barnevik. He used to be head of ABB the biggest engineering group in Europe. After he retired he started something called Hand in Hand. It's a very simple concept. How many jobs can you create with how little money? It was taking all the performance measurements and doing it in India, South Africa, and Afghanistan. The one metric they were measuring was how much a job costs. They were a fistful of dollars per job in India.

I suggested to my wife, if this Microsoft thing came to an end, maybe we could go and do that for a while. My wife grew up in India so she quickly corrected me on that notion. My view was quite romanticised.

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Something along those lines perhaps. But to be in business, IT business, I can't think of a better place or a better time to be anywhere than Parallels right now.

The main reason I changed jobs from Microsoft was I made up my mind I wanted to be in the IT business for a while. I wanted to have an end-to-end job where I could really be the one with whom the buck stops.

Big companies like Microsoft are great but you typically get to run a slither of the business and here it's a slab. There's such a fantastic opportunity. Enabling SMB IT in itself is such a transformative process as they are so under served today. Consumers have gone through that over the last 10 to 12 years and now it's time for SMBs to go through it.

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