As many people already know, Jon Hirschtick, SolidWorks' founder and original CEO, has departed from the company after 18 years. The eternal entrepreneur has decided that it is time to explore new directions and opportunities. I wanted to briefly thank Jon for starting SolidWorks and making me part of the team back in 1995. It has (and continues to be) been an incredible experience for all of us who have been a part of the SolidWorks community.
I have grown a great deal during my time with SolidWorks. Much of that thanks to Jon during the early days of the company. He and I criss-crossed the United States when we launched SolidWorks 95. For years, we met with every industry analyst and press person that could spell CAD. During all the time we spent together, he shared many of his insights on entrepreneurship and life with me. I learned far to many things from Jon to list here, but suffice to say that my perspective on product and the people who use them has been heavily influenced by my time with Jon.
In 1997, after some persistent nagging on my part, Jon gave me the opportunity to work on a new project. He merely told me, "ok, figure out a way to reach more users faster". During my time on this project, he did some very couragous things as the CEO of a young upstart company struggling to establish a presence in the market. First he gave me the lattitude to explore opportunities in non-obvious places. But the bravest thing he did was to run interference for me. There were a few influential people in the company that didn't think Rick's "mystery project" was a good use of resources. But Jon really believe it was the right thing to do, and he made sure that I had the room I needed to get the job done. In the end, eDrawings was the result. It was Jon's couragousness as much as anything else that led to that very successful product.
Not everyone has seen Jon in action in front of an audience. Here is a video of Bill Gates, Jon, and myself during a demo we did in 1998. Here you can see Jon's skill at delivering a beautifully simple and compelling message.
Jon, thanks for making me a part of the SolidWorks team. What an incredible experience it has been for all of us. It was your vision and abilities that acted as the catalysts for this one in a million company's success. We'll all be watching to see what your next venture will be. Good Luck!