Quark CEO Ray Schiavone has outlined his leadership philosophy and hinted at his plans for the future of Quark, promising that the company will be more communicative and that, like Apple, it intends to leapfrog the competition with new technologies developed in co-operation with other companies.

Macworld caught up with Quark’s new CEO Ray Schiavone to talk about his first 60 days on the job. Schiavone began by pledging that Quark would be “a lot more communicative than we’ve been in the past,” claiming that his style is “one that is very open”. The new CEO went on to state: “I’m willing to share where we’re doing well and where we’ve got challenges, and also where we’re heading.”

Looking to the past, Schiavone explained that he believes the company got “too confident” about its position as a market leader. “Dominating the market was the worst thing that could have happened to us. We missed the boat by getting over-confident.” Because Quark held the monopoly Schiavone believes it “lost that edge”.

“We’ve were a very innovative company in the past and I’m hear to tell you that we’ve got all of the capability to bring that back and continue to have that innovation,” Schiavone stated.

“We’ve got a great technology and have maintained our position as the best in these competitive, tough times. True, there’s been a bit of back and forth as to who has the latest and greatest feature,” he admitted, referring to the challenge to meet and exceed the features in Adobe In Design.

But it shouldn’t be a constant battle of feature, feature, feature, feature, Schiavone stated. “We introduced 160 features in version 7 and in some ways we’ve leapfrogged with them. I think that if we did that again for QuarkXPress 8 our customers would say: ‘Enough. Stop!’”

“That’s got to fundamentally change though, in terms of the pace that we’re doing that, but more fundamentally, in terms of what are we doing that is different,” added Schiavone.

New philosophy to take company forward

To describe Quark’s new philosophy Schiavone used the quote Apple CEO Steve Jobs used in his Macworld San Francisco keynote. The quote, from ice hockey star Wayne Gretsky, is: “I want to skate to where the puck is going, not where it’s been.” Schiavone explained: “That’s really the theme upon which I’m taking the company forward. We really need to reinvent Quark in a similar fashion as Apple has.”

“In my first few weeks on the job I spoke to lots of our customers to find out where they are going and what tools they need to get there,” explained Schiavone. “A lot of our clients have very successful print businesses, but they are struggling with where to go from there. They know they have to get to the web and they want to find a way to leverage their creativity and be able to take content and get it out to different media types without having to throw it over to a team of programmers.”

“They are thinking about how to transform their business, but we are still behind in terms of having the technology to get ahead of that curve, and providing technology that will facilitate that transformation,” admitted Schiavone.

Schiavone intends to head up a Quark that innovates into this space. “That’s fundamentally where we’re going,” he said.

iPhone makes the future, today

The iPhone is a perfect example of how this new market for multichannel publishing is opening up, noted Schiavone. “Finally, a handheld device that is practical and usable! There will be a lot of need for content delivery to those types of devices. We have been talking about this for a few years, but it was going to be the future. The iPhone shows that it isn’t the future, it’s today.”

“We have to think about how we create our content, in a way that is reusable in different media types, and with the tools that will allow us to repurpose that content, efficiently and effectively,” said Schiavone, indicating that Apple’s announcement hints to the direction of his company. “We’re following this major shift, and taking the core capabilities that we’ve got, and leveraging that to help provide technologies for where our clients are going.”

This doesn’t mean that print is dead, Schiavone emphasised: “That doesn’t mean we are going to abandon the QuarkXPress product line, or not continue to adopt technologies that will make that competitive in the market.”

Schiavone promised that Quark will continue to innovate in the print space, however, it will not only be Quark technologies that it uses to do this. “We will incorporate some innovative technologies that haven’t been developed by us specifically,” he explained.

“Quark, historically has been a build-it-yourself kind of company, we have been proprietary, we have been closed, we built everything on our own,” explained Schiavone. This will now change: “Fundamentally my philosophy is to be open in terms of the technologies we use. Don’t reinvent the wheel. We will have standard interfaces to compliment our technologies, and this will allow us to partner with other companies rather than create everything.”

“But we do recognise that there are components of a boarder solution for our clients that will be required. There will be common technologies out there that we’ll have to interface with, and we’ll do that in an open way. There will be an ecosystem – just as there is with the slew of products that surround Apple – we are going to partner with others that will allow us to offer a complete end-to-end solution,” he revealed.

Leapfrogging the competition

“The mindset I’ve given to the R&D group is that they need to innovate around our competition, and not go head on.” Like Apple, Quark will “leapfrog”, rather than just create the next version of an existing product.

“We are working on a number of projects that I think will be interesting in terms of technologies that will allow us to do some things very differently than we’ve done in the past,” Schiavone revealed.

Summing up Quark’s place in the market Schiavone said: “We aren’t trying to build the next Adobe, we building an independent company that has complementary or better solutions. We are going to compete, but in some places we’ll co-exist. The best analogy I can give you is Adobe is going to have tools that are specialised tools for specific instances, it will have a great set of hand tools. I want Quark to build power tools.”

“We’re not going to create a Photoshop, we’re going to try and create some other tools that address parts of the life cycle,” he added.