Nolan Bushnell Regrets Selling Atari

Nolan Bushnell Regrets Selling Atari

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Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, who recently returned to the company as a member of its board of directors, says that he wishes he'd never sold it in the first place.

The early history of Atari should be familiar to all of you by now: Founded in 1972, released Pong stand-up the same year, home version in '75, VCS in '76 and, that same year, Bushnell decided to sell out to Warner. He stayed with the company for a brief period but was fired late that year over a disagreement about the company's future. In the years since, Atari's fortunes have waxed and waned, mostly waned, to put it mildly.

But back in the day, Atari was king, which Bushnell attributed to both a focus on innovation and an "irreverent" attitude among its workers. "We were willing to mess with people," he said during a speech to the list summit last week. Atari was a meritocracy at the time, he explained, noting that management didn't really care how things got done, as long as they got done. "Abandon process, focus on outcomes," he added.

And despite the company's seemingly-endless woes - current CEO Jeff Lapin recently described the company as a smelly, rotten onion, with layer upon layer of problems - Bushnell said that he regrets selling out all those years ago. He was tired of the business and suffering from "five-year ADD" that leaves him bored with projects after a half-decade or so, but admitted that he really wishes he could take that move back. "I was stupid. I sold completely because I didn't understand Wall Street," he said. "In retrospect, I really wish I hadn't sold it."

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You know what Nolan, I regret that you sold it too... Atari needs to get back to making some great games, being an Atari fanboy from the 80's I really missed you guys..

Here's hoping to see something great from them in the next year or so.

Hindsights always 20/20 i suppose. Seller remource strike again.

the current CEO certainly has a different approach than mr. Koticks "ZOMFG, I HAZ TEH BESTEST KOMPANI WITH THE BESTEST GAMEZ EVURR. I NEED MOAR MONIEZ".

Well, live and learn. I wonder where it would have gone if he had stayed...still, at least he is with the directors so he has some control!

In hindsight, we all regret our actions. Learn and build upon the experience. Do something even more better than before!

Having grown up with the Atari consoles, the problems with illegal third party development was a serious kick in the ass to the company way back when. Lousy games with repeated themes and an overall lack of imagination through the original 2600 library was starting to clear up with the 7200, but with so much other decent competition coming into their own on the marketplace, Atari was doing little actually keep up with the pace. The Jaguar, while not exactly popular, was sort of like the last noise Atari made in the console era, aside from the Lynx. When they shrunk down to just develop games to establish a steady foothold for the future of the company, it seemed like a much smarter idea than to attempt to compete in the global console game when Atari was never known for pushing the technological envelope in their systems.

With the sordid history I'm sure that company has had in the stock market, I'm sure at some point down the line, Bushnell would have dumped control anyway when it looked like the company was going to take a nosedive anyway. Doesn't matter when you bail off a sinking ship, as long as you aren't the last one to do it. But Atari has managed to stay afloat, and I'll bet that company could possibly outlive some of us some day.

Funnily, the glory days of Atari and the 2600 that everyone fondly remembers (1980-1984) occurred after he left Atari (December of '78) and because of the sale. Warner is the one who pumped cash and management in to it and brought about those days (and of course pumped so high until it burst and crashed).

Regardless, it's a moot point. That Atari (Atari Inc.) is long gone, and was dismantled in 1984. The current Atari he joined the board of is simply the current owners of the brand, formerly named Infogrames SA.

 

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