In the late 1990s, I think it was 1997, International Data Group invited me to interview the late Pat McGovern, founder and CEO of a company that published technology journals and did some of the best research in the field. We met at a Silicon Valley restaurant for breakfast. The conversation ranged all over the place, from technology (of course; I was a business and tech columnist at the time) to policy to global trends.
He dazzled me, then and in subsequent conversations over the years. He dazzled almost everyone. He combined a first-class mind, vision and temperament to literally create, and for many years dominate, an industry around bringing information about technology both to the tech industry and to a wider audience. IDG did research. It published trade journals. It created popular magazines like PC World and the “…for Dummies” series, and so much more. Later in life, Pat worked on improving the human condition, in particular by funding brain research.
Pat died yesterday in Palo Alto, California. Read this fine remembrance by Time’s Harry McCracken, who worked with Pat for many years, to understand what a multifaceted person — and rare kind of corporate leader — we’ve lost.
Calling Pat a visionary doesn’t begin capture his business acumen. And calling him a good person doesn’t capture what a gentleman he was.
At the end of our first conversation that morning in California, Pat told me that if I ever had an idea for a new publication he wanted to be the first to hear it, because he liked starting new things. I replied that I would do that, but hoped he realized that I couldn’t write a column about him now, because we had created a potential conflict of interest. No problem, he said, it was still worth the time.
I never did start something with his company. I did almost work for him — twice, in fact, though neither deal ended up coming together for a variety of reasons.
Over the years when I was a tech journalist, we ran into each other many times. He’d long since become a billionaire, yet was always affable and happy to chat; and I always felt fortunate to learn what he thought was new and important. We’ve lost one of the greats in the tech and media worlds.