C. Edward McVaney
|C. Edward McVaney|
December 29, 1940 |
Omaha, Nebraska, USA
|Occupation||philanthropist, investor and former Chief executive officer|
|Net worth||$1.25 billion USD Forbes (1998) 13th in Forbes Tech 100 (just after Steve Jobs)|
C. Edward McVaney (born December 29, 1940) was the co-founder and former CEO of the JD Edwards Corporation, a pioneering Enterprise Resource Planning company purchased by PeopleSoft in 2002. PeopleSoft, in turn was purchased by Oracle Corporation in January 2005.
McVaney was born in Omaha, Nebraska, December 29, 1940. As his father was off to war as a World War II dentist, according to a 2002 interview, McVaney had very little memory of him until he came home at the end of the War. ." His father had graduated from Creighton University and while he served largely behind lines in the Army Air Corps, he came home from Europe with indications of post-traumatic stress syndrome and was haunted by nightmares and terrified by loud noises for many years after his return. McVaney recalls the day his father showed up saying that of him that he appeared to be "the biggest, tallest man in the whole world. I was just a little squirt". ." McVaney's siblings included four brothers. His mother Mary McVaney, was a housewife and as a child, the family lived, as he describes it, "in a very frugal, frugal way" ." in their home on 38th Street in Omaha, Nebraska.
Because of dyslexia McVaney had difficulties in school and was a very poor student. When he was in fourth grade and took an eye test, he could barely see the chart. Since his father was a graduate of Kearny College and a dentist, it was expected that he would attend college himself. Accordingly, he attended a Jesuit elementary prep school, where, because of his dyslexia, he soon found himself thirtieth out of thirty-six students. Even in high school, he could barely read and struggled just to keep up because of his dyslexia. While reading was an issue, McVaney's cognitive skills were not at all impaired. In fact, by his sophomore year in high school he found out that in Geometry, he was the top student in his school—the whole school—and in his senior year he was the top student in Physics. While reading would remain an issue because of his dyslexia, it was clear that he was a gifted student in an all college-prep high school. Graduating from high school, Creighton Prep School in 1959, McVaney went to Iowa State Teacher's College (now the University of Northern Iowa) on a football scholarship. He was on the dean’s list and graduated with honors in 1964 with a BS in mechanical engineering. In his senior year in engineering school, he took two courses in computers; one in operations research, and another in advanced dynamics, some kind of mathematics class, and, in his own words, "absolutely freaked out on computers," explaining that "that was the end of my engineering career and the beginning of my computer career," as there was no such thing as a Computer Science program at that time in Omaha. Discovered making "free calls" with little wire device to his girl friend, Carole, in Lincoln, Nebraska, McVaney lost his football scholarship and left Iowa State Teacher’s College. He returned to Creighton Prep School for a semester-and-a-half, and then attended the University of Nebraska. McVaney married Carole in 1963
For post-graduate training, McVaney attended Rutgers University because its tuition was only about $100 a semester and, at that time, made no distinction between out-of-state and in-state tuition. McVaney and his wife lived in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. He commuted to Rutgers which was located in Newark, New Jersey. Upon his graduation from Rutgers, McVaney was hired by Western Electric as an operations research engineer.
As an engineer at Western Electric in mid-1964, McVaney worked in applied mathematics schemes theory which got him involved further with both computers and operations research using mathematical modeling in the mid-1960s. Because the computer systems of the day were so primitive and the data was incomplete, it was extremely difficult to get reliable information because, in McVaney's words, "the numbers weren’t credible." McVaney explains of that era, "We went through a whole twenty-five year period of time building strong powerful computer systems with integrity so that then twenty-five years later, when you did the fancy mathematics and the operations research and so on, it worked fine." While working at Western Electric, McVaney learned machine language programming. While work at Western Electric was both challenging and rewarding intellectually and McVaney making what he considered good pay, $9,200 a year, when he was offered $14,000 a year to go to work in the Wall Street financial district for Peat Marwick Mitchell (now KPMG) in 1966, he snapped up the opportunity. McVaney found that as a frugal midwestern-bred young man, he could easily live on $3.00 a day when placed on a $9.00 a day expense account. He was in a self-described good situation.
McVaney was transferred by Peat Marwick from New York City to Denver, Colorado in 1968. He continued with Marwick until 1970 when he took a position with Alexander Grant, now Grant Thornton LLP.
McVaney meets the men with whom he would form JD Edwards
While at Grant Thornton, McVaney met Jack Thompson who was working on an IBM 1130 in Billings, Montana, and he was making $630 a month. Thompson was lured to Grant Thorton for $750 a month which brought him from Billings to Denver. McVaney had worked closely with Thompson going back to the time they had spent as consultants at the Great Western Life Insurance Company. At that time McVaney also met Dan Gregory, a college MBA student from Denver University. McVaney hired him out of the MBA program at Denver University. McVaney describes that time as a period in which he was developing his personal concept of integrity from a "high school level" to a much more mature business-related notion of absolute reliability. At the same time he was coming to the realization that, in his words, "the culture of a public accounting firm is the antithesis of developing software. The idea of spending time on something that you’re not getting paid for - software development," indicating that accounting clients at that time just did not understand what was required for software development at that time. After what McVaney described as a consulting "failure" at a client, Haviland Whitcon Company, in San Jose, California, McVaney came to the conclusion that he had to start his own firm to implement his own approach to accounting business software development. McVaney had been discussing starting his own firm with both his wife as well as Thompson and Gregory. Now it was time to make the move, telling her, "I think it’s time for me to start my own company. Look, I don’t really fit in here. The culture isn’t right. I want to get done some things that can’t be done as context. I’d like to start my own company." Soon he would have his chance.
JD Edwards is born
In 1977, unsatisfied with conventional approaches to business and accounting software development and accounting software services, McVaney started JD Edwards by selling co-workers, Dan Gregory and Jack Thompson on his concept of a radically different approach to accounting software development that represented for all of them a significant cultural shift from typical sales promises to total commitment to customer goals based on an integrity-based approach to customer requirements. After discarding the name, Jack Daniels & Co., the group decided that JD Edwards sounded better. In order to get an $8,000 loan, McVaney took a salary cut from $44,000 to $36,000 and in order to live on that salary, all optional family expenses such as piano lessons, skiing and swimming lessons were pared.
Start-up clients included McCoy Sales in Denver, Colorado, a then $4-million wholesale distribution company and Cincinnati Milacron Company, a makers of machine tools. McVaney and his team got a $75,000 contract to write software to develop a wholesale distribution system. The new company also got a $50,000 contract with the Colorado Highway Department to develop a governmental accounting, construction cost accounting system. McVaney's first international client was Shell Oil Company in Cameroon, Africa. Co-founder Dan Gregory flew to Shell Oil, himself to install the company's first international, multi-national, multi-transcurrency client software system. JD Edwards' software was originally coded for the IBM System 36/38 and later upgraded to support the AS/400 and called JD Edwards World Software. In the late 1990s, the software was ported to client–server sysems and branded JD Edwards OneWorld. After JD Edwards was bought by PeopleSoft in 2002, the OneWorld product was rebranded PeopleSoft EnterpriseOne. After PeopleSoft was bought out by Oracle Corporation in 2004, the product was rebranded JD Edwards EnterpriseOne as the PeopleSoft name itself was to be phased out. From the start, JDE, as it would come to be known, was created with mid-sized companies in mind.
Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP software concept developed
With the vast majority of JD Edwards' customers in the medium sized area, clients did not have the luxury of gigantic accounting software implementations. There was a basic business need for all accounting to be tightly integrated. As McVaney would explain in 2002, integrated systems were created precisely because "you can’t go into a moderate-sized company and just put in a payroll. You have to put in a payroll and job cost, general ledger, inventory, fixed assets and the whole thing. SAP had the same advantage that JD Edwards had because we were working on smaller companies, we were forced to see the whole broad picture." It was this requirement for both JDE clients in the USA and Europe as well as competitor SAP, whose typical clients were much smaller than the American fortune 500 firms. McVaney and his company, along with their European competitors developed what would be called ERP software in response to that business requirement.
McVaney takes JD Edwards public, retires, returns and retires again
McVaney felt that in order to compete effectively, his company needed additional capital and needed to go public. Bringing in Doug Massingill as CEO, JDE went public on September 24, 1997, at an initial price of $23 per share and was traded on NASDAQ under the symbol JDEC. By 1998, JDE revenues was in excess of $934.0 million when McVaney retired. McVaney came out of retirement and fired Massingill returning in April 2000 as CEO because he felt that ongoing problems with quality control of the company's client–server OneWorld product were severely cutting into the Company's credibility as an ERP provider. McVaney stood firm that the Company wait as long as necessary to release an absolutely ironclad-reliable upgraded ERP product. After a delaying the upgrade for one year and refusing all requests by marketing for what he felt was a premature release, in the fall of 2000, JDE released B7333 which was rebranded a "OneWorld Xe." Xe proved to be a most stable release to date and went a long way towards restoring customer confidence. McVaney had also been quietly encouraging customer feedback by supporting the totally independent JDE user group called Quest International. Confident that the company was on the right track, McVaney retired again in January 2002, bringing in Robert Dutkowsky from Teradyne as the new president and CEO. McVaney remained on the board, and Dutkowsky, who comes from Teradyne, added the title chairman and at Edwards' stockholders meeting in March 2002, joked how felt happy to return to streams not far from JD Edwards' Denver headquarters. Dutkowsky, however, did little to ensure the success of JD Edwards. Instead he simply focused on selling the company, eventually succeeding in doing so to PeopleSoft in mid-2003. This in turn spearheaded the acquisition spree of Oracle which continued unabated to the present.
McVaney is married to his wife of over forty years, Carole McVaney whom he had met in high school and married in 1963. They have three children and as of 2002, seven grandchildren.
Involvement in philanthropy
In May 1998, McVaney donated more than $32 million to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to found the JD Edwards Honors Program. This program is charged with educating the next generation of business professionals by combining computer science education with business management skills.
Work in Iraq for the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003
In 2003, against the objections of some family and most friends, McVaney volunteered his expertise in the difficult task of helping rebuild an Iraq shattered by the American invasion to take down the Saddam Hussein regime and the chaos and sectarian violence that resulted from the collapse of organized rule and the rise of armed militias. Living in the Baghdad's Green Zone and sleeping with his kevlar helmet, McVaney worked with American and Iraqi counterparts.
- 2002 Transcript of an Computerworld Honors Program oral history video interview with Ed McVaney by Daniel S. Morrow at his home, the McVaney Ranch, in Colorado, 2002
- C. EDWARD MCVANEY: Oral History, Computerworld Honors Program. Accessed July 6, 2011. "We moved back east and lived in Cedar Grove, New Jersey."