An Interview With Quark CEO Ray Schiavone

Quark’s Reorganization And The Future Of QuarkXPress

Recently, various outrageous rumors have been flying around about a reorganization at Quark, involving cut-throat layoffs, dismal sales, squandered fortunes and clueless leadership. To discover the truth, I went directly to the source. Quark’s CEO Ray Schiavone kindly granted me an extensive interview, so I asked him exactly what Quark is doing right now, and where they’re headed. Here’s what I discovered:

THE EXTENT OF THE REORGANIZATION

“Less than 10” employees in the Denver office were laid off, to reallocate resources toward new initiatives. Quark has also hired several key new people and is in the process of hiring quite a few more — again to support new initiatives. Their offices in India were affected in a similar way.

Ray SchiavoneTHE NEW INITIATIVES

Schiavone has been CEO of Quark for nine months. During this period, he spent a great deal of time visiting key Quark customers around the world. During that same period, Quark presented free seminars across the U.S. and met with a broad range of customers. The goal: to find out what improvements customers are asking for and provide them.

Perhaps you can guess what some of those requests were, based on this short list of where Quark is investing additional resources:

  • A new technical support center in Denver.
  • More development in the U.S., in addition to India.
  • A new office in Santa Clara, California, for R&D, support and sales.
  • Expanded technical support in Neuchatel, Switzerland.
  • New offices to support Latin America, Asia, eastern Europe, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Russia.
  • Increased staff in Germany, France, and England.

SALES FIGURES

To me, this kind of activity doesn’t seem possible if the sales of Quark’s flagship product were weak, so I asked about how sales are going for QuarkXPress 7. Being a privately owned company, they don’t share exact figures, but Schiavone did say that they’re ahead of their sales targets for upgrades to QuarkXPress 7, and have been pleasantly surprised by the strength of the sales of new copies as well.

THE DIRECTION OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

OK, so Quark is investing in greater support and R&D in the U.S. and Europe. They’re also adding support in key countries around the world. But what about the product? Where is QuarkXPress headed — what’s the Big Picture for the tools that millions of design and publishing professionals rely on every day?

Based on their interaction with customers, Schiavone and his team determined that the biggest needs center on republishing content. The biggest time-wasting activities worldwide involve recreating assets to use in print, Web, interactive, mobile devices, and other delivery media. In addition, customers need to be able to easily use content from all sources: QuarkXPress, InDesign, XML, Flash, PDF, and others.

To address this need, Quark is investing significant resources to build up their content-sharing and server technologies, which lead the industry. QuarkXPress Server 7 is already capable of delivering content to multiple media at once, using only a Web browser for input and requiring only basic QuarkXPress skills to create new designs. And of course QuarkXPress 7 already allows sharing of content between users, without requiring a server.

This kind of challenge plays to Quark’s strengths: QuarkXPress has always excelled at efficiency and productivity. While Schiavone wouldn’t tell me exactly what new products or services to expect in the immediate future, he did say there would be some exciting new announcements this fall around new server capabilities and partnerships with existing server vendors and open source suppliers.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE DESKTOP?

“We’re continuing to develop QuarkXPress as the most powerful content publishing tool in the world.”

All this talk about server solutions and “reinventing the enterprise software side” of Quark made me nervous about the future of QuarkXPress. Was Quark abandoning the desktop market? Will QuarkXPress be relegated to being the front end of a giant publishing engine?

Schiavone: “No, no, no. QuarkXPress is the basis of everything we’re doing. The 7.3 upgrade was the highest quality upgrade we’ve ever released. We’re continuing to develop QuarkXPress as the most powerful content publishing tool in the world.”

Their goal, he said, is to take content publishing out of the 20th century model that became entrenched during the desktop publishing revolution, and into the reality of today’s cross-media publishing needs. The content-sharing technologies already built into QuarkXPress 6 and 7, when added to the power of QuarkXPress Server and other technologies about to be released, will go a long way toward smoothing and optimizing today’s workflows.

In other words, they’re investing in top end technologies so that they can continue to introduce unprecedented new features into the consumer market and QuarkXPress. And that makes me, a QuarkXPress user, quite pleased.