JULY 11

ROSS PEROT AND DALLAS’ B2B TECH HISTORY

by    |  AGENCY LIFE

Idea Grove is a Dallas B2B technology PR and marketing agency, and that’s not by accident. When our president, Scott Baradell, created the agency more than a decade ago, his decision to focus on B2B tech was a strategic one. We are in Dallas, and Dallas is ripe with B2B tech companies—a market that, at the time, was underserved. 

The fact that he could make that type of decision is thanks in large part to people like Ross Perot, who died earlier this week at age 89.

“I don’t think most people realize that Ross Perot was more than a businessman whose strong views led him to run for president in the 1990s,” says Baradell. “He actually started a movement that would fundamentally change the makeup of Dallas business.”

We’ve spent some time on this blog talking about Dallas’ technology culture, pointing out that while we may not have the highly visible technology firms that call Austin or Silicon Valley home,  it doesn’t mean we don’t have a rich tech culture and a tech history here. A lot of that is thanks to pioneering thinkers and business people like Perot who paved the way.

If you’re of a certain age, you probably know Perot better as a disruptive presidential candidate in 1992 and 1996 and the subject of a Dana Carvey impersonation on Saturday Night Live. But before he was the cantankerous candidate, Perot was the brilliant businessman who started Electronic Data Systems in Dallas in 1962. 

Perot was growing his business at the same time as other tech companies were beginning to emerge in Dallas. Texas Instruments was born from an early 1950s reorganization of Geophysical Service Incorporated. American Airlines started what would become the Sabre corporation in 1960.

These were the companies that laid the groundwork for others, like Alliance Data, Flowserve and DXC Technologies. But Perot wasn’t just priming Dallas to be a place where B2B tech companies could succeed. He was also creating a team of executives that would build on the foundation that he and others laid and help B2B tech explode in Dallas.

For a time, it was almost impossible to engage with a B2B tech company in Dallas that didn’t have at least one executive who’d had a stint at EDS (or, later, Perot Systems) on their resume.

One of those leaders is Ron Nash, the CEO of Pivot3, one of Idea Grove’s clients. Nash worked with Perot at EDS. He spoke to the Dallas Business Journal about Perot and remembered him this way.

“Ross saw a business problem, and then hired smart people to solve it with technology. He was a great leader of people. He had an instinctive style that fits technology.”

The world will remember Ross Perot for many things—his presidential runs, his business acumen, his philanthropy. But Perot’s legacy is far broader and deeper than all these. As both Baradell and Nash would agree, he should also be remembered for establishing Dallas as a hub for B2B technology.

 

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