Patrick J. McGovern
Co-founder of International Data Group (IDG)
We all have dreams, but the significant difference between the movers and shakers of the world and the also-rans is the conversion of a dream into reality. Patrick McGovern has converted his dream.
In 1959, McGovern envisioned himself as the messenger of the computer revolution, responsible for helping "everyone in the world realize how computers can make their lives more fulfilling." Today, he presides as chairman and CEO of International Data Group (IDG), the computer publishing empire consisting of 100 publications in 36 countries, reaching 16 million readers, all contributing to sales of $300 million, a 25 percent share of the estimated $1.5 billion market.
The impact of McGovern's IDG has been described to be so extensive that the success or failure of a new computer product rests on how his magazines treat the new product. William Gates, chairman of Microsoft, says, "They (IDG publications) can determine what people are thinking." McGovern's dream, to the world's delight, has been transformed into reality.
Computerworld, McGovern's answer for those managers uninformed of the potential achievements of computer systems, was his first publication. Today, it remains his most successful and the largest business publication in the United States. Other publications include PC World, InfoWorld, Macworld, and PC World USSR, introduced last year as a farsighted response to the increasing demand in the Soviet Union for computer-related information.
There is more to Patrick McGovern, however, than his business success and personal wealth. He is a man whose often unrestricted character permeates his company. He is known for his daring escape from Soviet authorities and his seemingly impulsive pursuit and marriage to a woman he saw on the cover of Inc. magazine. He attended a company meeting in Alaska dressed as "Nanook the Eskimo" and he insists on flying coach and driving a used car.
McGovern's employees affectionately refer to him as "Uncle Pat." He has initiated plans to turn 51 percent of the business over to his employees by 1990, a generous gesture considering his plans to bring the company to $1 billion in sales by that time. That is not impossible. The company has experienced a 35 percent growth over the past several years.
His generosity also extends to bonuses, an exciting company ritual where money is delivered by two armored cars from which armed guards carry approximately a half-million dollars into the various buildings. "Uncle Pat" then personally distributes these Christmas "gifts" to most of his 2,600 employees.
Although he freely rewards his employees, McGovern has made a bold example of the virtues he would like his employees to espouse such as thriftiness and respect. Yes, he does fly coach, and a story has been told that he once saved $200 by getting up at 5 a.m. to "catch an earlier flight." He also makes a point of listening to people, acting on suggestions, and remembering their names. Pat McGovern genuinely believes in the value of his people to his company. He states that he tries to read all of his company's publications and will send a congratulatory note to those responsible for exceptional work. Bill Laberis, editor of Computerworld, was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying, "It sounds hokey as hell, but the guy's spirit really is pervasive in this place."
McGovern attributes his success to the following philosophy: "If you're good at picking people and giving them the freedom of authority to do what they like to do, you will succeed. Of course, you need a valid concept of your marketplace. And, if you have the right people, then all you have to do is meet once a year and ask, 'how did it go?'."
For Pat McGovern, a name synonymous with computer publishing, things have gone very well, and will continue to do so as long as he holds onto his dream.