Look Before You Leap


Look Before you Leap by David Macfie

After school, Harry and I did a programming course but couldn’t find a job. Cell phones were just becoming popular and we figured if we could build little add-on programs to enhance the usability, we’d get rich quick. So we started a business with fifty-fifty ownership. We called these little programs Apps (short for Applications) and named the business Harrick Enterprises because I’m Richard but everyone calls me Rick.

Harry doesn’t really like programming so he took the role of flesh-presser, meeter-and-greeter and all-round-good-guy. He believes he did all the selling, while I sat in the background, with a paper bag on my head, and developed the Apps.

Now ten years later the business is a huge success. During that time, to raise capital, we sold ten percent to each of four investors, who are now on our board. Harry and I both retained thirty percent. But the relationship between myself and Harry is strained. He thinks he’s a big shot and our success is all down to him. He thinks he can easily hire someone to replace me at a fraction of my cost and no shares in the business and he’s planning a takeover. He hasn’t admitted this, but his attitude and body language make it obvious, to me at least, even if nobody else has noticed. I’ve said nothing so he thinks I don’t know what he’s up to. His goal is to take the business to the Stock Exchange and make pots of money. He’s been wining and dining the investors and talking to them about selling their shares back to him and he thinks they’ve agreed.

But there are a few things that Harry doesn’t know. First he didn’t sell anything. In researching which Apps to build, I spent a great deal of time with users of cell phones and with the organizations that make them. The specifications were built with involvement from these people so our sales took place when I delivered on the promises made during that process. Second, Harry doesn’t contribute anything much to the business except hot air, so his credibility is poor. He also doesn’t know that our investors actively dislike him.

But, here he comes, looking intent. Maybe it’s time.

“Rick, we must talk. I’ve bought the investors out so now I own seventy percent of the shares. As the main shareholder I want you out. I’ll give you a good price for your leftovers. What do you say?”

“Harry, I say you’re as thick as a plank. You know nothing. First, you haven’t bought anything. But I have. All four completed deals with me last week and that great deal you did on your own shares, when you thought you had the other forty percent, was with me. So my dumb-ass friend, my leftovers add up to a hundred percent and yours to zero. I hope you enjoy your next job. Goodbye.”