Lotus ParkOn the 26th of November 1991 I started my employment with Lotus Development Corporation. Initially I worked in the Customer Support team, supporting Lotus 1-2-3 and Symphony. After a couple of years I joined the Corporate Sales team as a Systems Engineer, and worked my way up the Technical Sales organisation, hitting a peak as Technical Sales Manager of the North Region (which included South Africa, of course). After a re-organisation (now fully in the clutches of IBM) I proverbially stuck two fingers up at the role I was given and relinquished managerial duties (ironically on the same day that my ‘Managing In IBM’ qualification certificate turned up). A few years later I was given the role of Business Unit Executive for NE Europe responsible for messaging and collaboration. Then I returned to a UK-only role. Then I left IBM.

Throughout those nineteen-and-a-half years the Lotus organisation and brand was slowly eroded. But there was one constant in my working life… Lotus Park in Staines. The mothership. The spiritual home. We survived two major floods (one of these days I’ll get the 2003 flood photos posted, but for now a small sample can be seen below). The restaurant carpet survived a few Christmas parties. IBM took away my office (a prime location in block four, envied by my neighbour Chris Davies), IBM took away the free drinks, and IBM took away any electrical item that wasn’t certified by someone with a clipboard (a bitter blow for Ed Hollands who brought in his own coffee-maker after the free drinks were taken away). But Lotus Park always retained that Lotus history and with it a sense of community. I fondly remember the fact that we used to have a marketing department that took up one half of the top floor of block four (imagine that, marketing). I remember not so fondly that the Lotus team were relocated so that staff moving in after a recent acquisition could have the nicer desks.

The great flood of 2003Today Lotus Park closes its doors. Well, it doesn’t really, because I’m sure someone else will move in (Lotus once occupied all four blocks, two have long-since been taken over by other companies). But the IBM people are moving out, and with that the last major vestige of the Lotus Development organisation that I joined twenty one years ago disappears. Lotus 1-2-3 has long gone. Lotus Notes is now IBM Notes and is on its last legs. The former-Lotus team have new products in the kit-bag, including IBM Connections which remains a fine product. But today, Lotus disappears from the UK. All that remains are memories and, most importantly, a number of great people who will remain as colleagues and friends. There’s too many to name but you know who you are. Lotus Park brought us together and for that we thank the ol’ place.

Did anyone manage to secure the Lotus logo that hung over the reception?

This article has 22 comments

  1. Andy Dennis Reply

    Happy Days indeed! Especially the 21st Birthday celebrations outside, laserquest in the Car Park and the infamous Xmas parties (remember the beer drinking races !). Its sad day that Lotus Park has finally closed down for good.

  2. Dave Thompson Reply

    Hi Darren

    Not sure where you get your comment “Notes is on it’s last legs” – It grew 7% in 2012, whereas Outlook declined 3% – in my old days of rudimentary math that is a 10% shift on a multi billion $ market.

    Go take a look at Notes 9 Social Edition.. Outlook is not a patch on it !

    • Darren Reply

      I looked at that statement and thought “should I?”, and Phil questioned it on Facebook. I said that I meant in terms of market share, not in terms of roadmap. The fact is that Notes is being replaced in a great number of customers I deal with, and there’s been no instances we’ve seen of a reverse situation. I saw the exodus when I was with IBM Lotus (it was a key factor in me leaving) and nothing I’ve seen since joining Microsoft has made me think that the trend has slowed.

      Is the 7% growth for Notes in terms of revenue or seats? And remember I know how IBM count licenses, and licenses don’t equal deployed seats.

  3. John Reply

    Re: the decline of Notes. It’s interesting that since I left IBM, I wouldn’t know that Notes even ever existed except for the rare website whose URL ends with .nsf. I don’t know anyone who uses it and don’t see it advertised anywhere.

  4. Darren Reply

    I’m now sorry that I made that one little comment about Notes – this was intended to be about Lotus Park and its people, not a dig at Notes. Dave was absolutely right to challenge me on it and I respect him for it (2 years ago I’d have been straight in there doing the same). I would prefer to alter that piece of text and remove the comments… but I said it and it does represent the way I see the market.

  5. Kieran O'Byrne Reply

    Sad day indeed. I worked in all four blocks and the top floor of the Regus building next door, in Lotus Professional Services, when Lotus got too big to fit in just Lotus Park. Andy Graham bagsied the Lotus Logo in reception and Cali raided the old marketing cupboard and got some old memorabilia.

  6. Stuart McIntyre Reply

    Sad day indeed. Though I have never been a formal Loti, I have been a regular visitor since 1993 and the old place hold many happy memories.

    I was last there for a meeting at the end of January, and it seemed a sad echo of the bustling place it was in the Nineties. In many ways I’m happier with it closing and us remembering it in a positive way than to see it go downhill further in terms of atmosphere and vibe.

    Thanks for recording this day, Darren…

  7. Dwight Morse Reply

    Memories….I started at Lotus in October of 1991, in customer support for 1-2-3 version 2.3 for DOS, in Cambridge, MA. I was lucky enough to visit the Staines Office in the early to mid 90’s. As luck would have it, the cafeteria was serving bangers and mash during a mad cow scare…..memories.

  8. Cali Reply

    Lovely write up Daz (I skimmed over the Notes comment!).

    I must admit I had a few tears today at the end of an era. I was on the boat trip from Windsor to Staines to check out the new offices (everyone moaned about the colour choices, grey and burgundy) and have worked there from the day it opened and like Kieran I’d worked in all 4 buildings.

    Even though time has moved on and Lotus Park hasn’t been what it used to be, as you say it was still the spiritual home. The restaurant, the parties, the bbq’s in the garden, Friday nights in the Swan, the ‘feng shui’ water feature (and crash), the wonderful view of the river including the jealousy inducing party boats in the summer and of course, the people. It’s all about the people.

    I can’t imagine feeling the same about Stockley Park…

  9. Keith Brooks Reply

    Knew this day was coming. I was in at least 2 buildings and 4 floors in my time. Then again I was not at the office much.
    Great to be right on the water, i missed the floodings but saw the pictures. The sign at reception, good for Andy! And the old marketing bin always had great things back then.

  10. Hogne B. Pettersen Reply

    Thanks for the lovely write up. I didn’t know about Lotus Park, but this sure made me wish I had.

    As for the comment about Notes, I think it was fitting. Notes’ market share is eroding, and the only company I know of who still plans on developing new solutions for Domino, is the one I’m currently working for. And then only with Xpages that can be somehow combined with Connections.

    All other companies I’ve either worked with or for only now use Domino and Notes as legacy systems for solutions that will take years to replace. And I’ve never ever heard of companies going from Outlook/Sharepoint to Notes either.

  11. David Leedy Reply

    I liked reading about the history – but as mentioned the “last legs” comment was rather poor. Especially since you work at Microsoft I believe. That made what otherwise would have been an interesting / nostalgic article into another chance for a competitor to bash a product.

    • Darren Reply

      This makes me laugh. Almost every time I’ve posted a link on Facebook about Surface, Windows Phone or Windows 8 I’ve had to weather a barrage of negative comments. Seems it’s okay for people to bash the competition when it’s Microsoft. Many people in Microsoft will testify that I’ve stuck up for Notes when people are saying it’s a piece of shit that everyone hates – I’ve stated that it’s a great product that deserves respect from the competition. I’ve had many opportunities in the past 20 months to talk about the massive erosion I saw when I was at IBM and, even more so, since joining Microsoft. Sorry to break it to the Notes loyal but the exodus continues. I was on the losing side for many of these, now I’ve been on the winning side for Notes being removed from companies. I haven’t bragged or punched the air about it, and it doesn’t even give me a huge amount of satisfaction. Maybe my choice of words wasn’t great, but I can see no evidence of my sentiment being wildly untrue.

      • David Leedy Reply

        Darren, I just meant in the context of this post. That’s all. I don’t know anything about those other events. I don’t think any product should be “bashed by default”. There are good and bad products and there are bad features on good products etc.

        I’ve no interest in a market discussion, but all I would say there is from my TINY corner of the world, I see new people and even some new companies coming to the platform because of XPages.

      • Pete Hampton Reply

        I agree Daz, I can’t count the number of times I have bitten my lip when ex-colleagues post anti-Microsoft posts on public forum, but the moment I dare to post something about Surface or Phone or anything else related to my employers product set, it gets howls of derision from said former colleagues. So now, I don’t bother, either way, either posting myself or commenting on said ex-collagues’ updates on their employers products. It’s not worth the grief!
        As for your Notes comments, from my experience having a view for 2 years now from the other side, I’d say they were, in the UK at least, bang on. I have many customers, in diverse industry verticals and for the few that do have Notes, all without exception don’t view it as strategic and all, without exception are in-plan to remove it when the economics of migration can be agreed upon. I’m not stating that they will automatically migrate to Microsoft, far from it, as Google are the real competition and we will always do our utmost to fight for every deal. Notes is simply the “Current” point from which to migrate away from. To me, that says that those legs are not only their last, but purchased by Findus and stuffed into their delightful selection of meaty pancakes.

  12. Bill McNaughton Reply

    Your article brings back a “flood” of memories (pun intended). I left my Lotus Notes Systems Engineer role in Jan. 1991 for a 6 month world tour/sabbatical en route to Lotus Canada so I must have just missed working with you. I started with Lotus UK in Windsor in 1986 and remember the grand opening of that building. Lots of good work and social memories there, including co-naming the “@Work” cafeteria, rewarded with a magnum of champagne (ah, the good old days at Lotus).

  13. Sean Ryan Reply

    Nice Daz. I remember it well and would add the erosion started soon after ’95. I remember being so happy to move to “Lotus” t’s and c’s when I came across from IBM but it did not last long. Good times indeed…….the Staines massive will always be remembered :)

  14. Ray Reply

    My mood is quite somber now. I will miss sitting next to Pete and Jon and the John’s and Lewis and everyone else now in some campus in Reading or called 7 of 9 or something.

    The highlight of my day, and I was not alone, was always when you (Darren) walked in. You may not realize this but you actually have “presence”. It may be grumpy at times but it is still palpable. Perhaps you weren’t ready for assimilation.

    They say the people make the organisation but the building Staines was a major part of our glue. It created an amazing camaraderie between the various groups of staunch Loti’s (defenders) as we went from the top dog to under dog.

    The building and it’s surroundings helped us set up a line of defense against the inevitable. It was a bastion, a base, dare I say it, a foundation (not the server kind that I am still very bitter about) that gave us strength and conviction. I mean, how could you not feel proud with the history cemented in Staines. In anyway, if you got bored you could always look out the window and watch the Thames flow past, that was always very soothing.

    I hope some one took the bell. Who?

    Back to one point I made and that is people. As I write this I just got a notice from my senior management that people are stepping out of line in the social space and talking badly about the hive queen. This shall not be tolerated and heads will roll. Perhaps they mean heads will be reinitialized.

    Well that’s my opinion about what that building meant to the people actually working there. I will miss it and I know my colleauges (friends) will too. I will just quietly drone on now.

    16 of 45 signing off now. Time to regenerate.

  15. Damian Reply

    Nice write-up mate.

    You wrote somewhere that Lotus (& IBM) ‘made you the man you are today’. I kinda feel the same. Since being at that place I’ve gained work and life experience, bought my first and subsequent houses, got married, had a daughter etc. Whilst those personal events don’t relate to Lotus per se – I’ve shared the joy and experience of them with the wonderful people I’ve met through working there. I’ve made some friends I hope and am sure I’ll have for life.

    But nothing stays the same for ever, life moves on and change is often good. To the next chapter then. But I’ll always hold the ‘Lotus Park’ chapter very dear. The first 5-10 years in particular, were very special days.

    • Darren Reply

      The comment I made about “made me the man I am today” was really a queue-up for a self-effacing joke. But like you Damian I got married, had a daughter (well, not actually me), moved house three times and travelled the world within the Lotus / IBM years. I even played cupid and turned a colleague into a brother-in-law. Although I met many colleagues-now-friends at other IBM locations, Lotus Park was where I met the most and those who have remained closest… and who I miss the most.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

For spam filtering purposes, please copy the number 4166 to the field below: