Monday, August 08, 2005

And then Saddam invaded Kuwait

Fifteen years ago I was working at the European headquarters of a big multinational company. I was part of a small team trying to market a new technology throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It was the summer of 1990, and for months I had been working on a promising lead, our first in the Middle East. The potential end client was the Saudi government, and if the deal came to fruition it would be the largest contract to date worldwide for the new technology.

We had a local partner lined up, a Saudi system integration company. The man who ran it was related to the royal family and was confident he could make the deal happen. He'd traveled to see me in Europe, and we were all looking forward to big things.

But then, two things torpedoed the deal:
  1. Logistical problems arose when I tried to schedule a trip to Saudi Arabia. Something about the wrong religion on my visa application. (Fortunately, this problem was surmountable--I handed the deal off to a colleague.)

  2. And then, Saddam invaded Kuwait. This time the problem was not surmountable.

(Hat tip.)