Southwick, Karen 1951-2004

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SOUTHWICK, Karen 1951-2004

PERSONAL: Born May 17, 1951, in San Francisco, CA; died of cancer July 25, 2004, in San Francisco, CA; married; husband's name, Alan. Education: Brigham Young University, B.A., University of California, Berkeley, M.B.A.

CAREER: Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, FL, editor, consumer writer, reporter, 1980-85; San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, CA, 1985-87; Upside, San Francisco, executive editor, 1992-97; Upside Books, San Francisco,editor, 1997-99; Forbes ASAP, San Francisco, executive editor; CNET, San Francisco, member of editorial staff.


High Noon: The Inside Story of Scott McNealy and the Rise of Sun Microsystems, John Wiley and Sons (New York, NY), 1999.

Silicon Gold Rush: The Next Generation of High-TechStarts Rewrites the Rules of Business, John Wiley and Sons (New York, NY), 1999.

The Kingmakers: Venture Capital and the MoneyBehind the Net, John Wiley and Sons (New York, NY), 2001.

Everyone Else Must Fail: The Unvarnished Truth about Oracle and Larry Ellison, Crown Business (New York, NY), 2003.

(With Marc Benioff) Compassionate Capitalism: HowCorporations Can Make Doing Good an Integral Part of Doing Well, Career Press (Franklin Lakes, NJ), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: Journalist Karen Southwick was born in San Francisco, California, in 1951. She studied communications at Brigham Young University in Utah, and then went on to receive her M.B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley. Over the course of her career, Southwick worked primarily as a business reporter and editor, serving at a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Forbes ASAP. She also spent time as executive editor of Upside and later became the inaugural editor for a new division of Upside Books, a joint venture with publisher John Wiley and Sons. Prior to her death in July of 2004, she was covering the software industry as an editor for the web site, CNET

In addition to her work as a journalist, Southwick authored five business-related books focusing primarily on the technology industry and the major players in Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom. High Noon: The Inside Story of Scott McNealy and the Rise of Sun Microsystems tracks the enormous growth of the company through the late 1990s, providing historical background as well as an analysis of the decision to forgo manufacturing only computer hardware to concentrate on software as both a developer and provider. A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that "though her report founders on too many business-talk sentences . . . Southwick does give a solid, chronological account of the company." David Rouse, referring in a review for Booklist to a decade-old account of the rise of Sun Microsystems, remarked that "in computer time, that account is by now prehistoric, but Southwick skillfully brings Sun's saga up to date."

With Everyone Else Must Fail: The Unvarnished Truth about Oracle and Larry Ellison, Southwick turned her attention to another high-profile technology company. The book gives an account of the company's success to date, as well as her thoughts on its future, which she believed to be less positive. The editor of eWeek wrote that, "chock full of juicy rumors, detailed reporting, and a brutal look at Oracle's past and present business practices, every Oracle customer—or competitor—should read this book." Southwick included interviews with former employees, as well as a history of Ellison's innovations and management policies. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "the author provides an in-depth look at the company and insights into its business strategies." According to Newsweek reviewer Steven Levy, Southwick's effort is "the book to read if you want to find out exactly why some people can't stand Ellison." New York Times Book Review contributor Adam Cohen found the book lacking "descriptions of what Oracle's software does"as well as an appreciation of the genius that went into building such a dominant company," and wrote that "readers looking for sinister snapshots will not be disappointed." However, Lucy Heckman, in a piece for Library Journal, called the book a "compelling portrait of a controversial executive and the building of a software giant."

Southwick cowrote Compassionate Capitalism: How Corporations Can Make Doing Good an Integral Part of Doing Well with Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce. com. The volume looks at the practices of a number of corporations such as Cisco, Hasbro, and Timberland, examining their philanthropic policies. Southwick and Benioff advocate that companies determine these policies early in their development. Paul McNamara, in a review for Network World, remarked that "cynics will suggest that corporate philanthropy is almost always driven by strategic considerations and public-relations concerns. I'm a cynic, but let's be charitable today: There's a lot to like in Compassionate Capitalism." He also pointed out that Benioff's own company maintains such practices as allowing employees six paid workdays each year to perform some sort of philanthropic service, and has eight full-time employees in charge of the charitable works of a staff of approximately four hundred. McNamara commented that Benioff and Southwick "apparently do have their hearts and minds in the right place."

Southwick passed away on July 25, 2004, from cancer. She continued working until the time of her death, preferring to tell very few people that she was sick. In CNET, Jeff Pelline stated that, "despite her illness, she was energetic, upbeat, dedicated, and incredibly prolific."



Booklist, September 1, 1999, David Rouse, review of High Noon: The Inside Story of Scott McNealy and the Rise of Sun Microsystems, p. 48.

eWeek, October 7, 2003, review of Everyone Else MustFail: The Unvarnished Truth about Oracle and Larry Ellison.

Library Journal, November 15, 2003, Lucy Heckman, review of Everyone Else Must Fail, p. 78.

Network World, February 16, 2004, Paul McNamara, "'Net Buzz," review of Compassionate Capitalism: How Corporations Can Make Doing Good an Integral Part of Doing Well, p. 90.

Newsweek, September 29, 2003, Steven Levy, "Larry, with Tears," review of Everyone Else Must Fail, p. 34.

New York Times Book Review, February 15, 2004, Adam Cohen, "Speak, Oracle," p. 22.

Publishers Weekly, July 19, 1999, review of HighNoon, p. 174; October 6, 2003, review of Everyone Else Must Fail, p. 70.


Goal Manager Web site, (December 23, 2004), "Karen Southwick."



San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 2004, p. B7. USA Today, July 29, 2004.

ONLINE, (December 8, 2004).*

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