Man who built global publishing empire from scratch dies

CIO reports that Patrick McGovern, who sold his car in 1964 to start what became a worldwide chain of technology publications and consulting firms, has died at 76.

An MIT graduate, McGovern donated $350 million to MIT to start the McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

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      Nice, smart guy

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      Long after IDG became a giant concern, McGovern maintained his tradition of personally handing every US IDG employee a Christmas bonus (at least while I was there, five $100 bills), no easy feat given that the company had offices scattered across numerous sites on two coasts.

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      Great guy

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      I worked for Mr. McGovern back in the 80s as Editor of one of his magazines. Not only did Pat personally hand out bonuses each year, but he also knew the name of every person he handed an envelope to.

      Two stories about Pat. He, for reasons unknown, decided to join the staff at a trade show in Dayton one year. He arrived a few days after we did, and the hotel was booked solid. Our managing editor kindly moved out of his room and into mine so that Pat would have a place to stay. Unfortunately the front desk thought that the room had been vacated and woke Pat up at 2am the next morning thinking he was squatting in the room. He thought t was hilarious, or at least that's what he said the next morning.

      That same trip, a few of us were having dinner with Pat and the publisher of our magazine at some swanky Dayton eatery. During dinner my managing editor, sitting next to me, was clearly having trouble containing his laughter while I chatted with Pat. He told me later that each time I daintily dabbed at my mouth, what I thought was my napkin was in fact my tie. Pat never batted an eye.

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      "Uncle Pat" also took

      "Uncle Pat" also took employees out to a fancy dinner once they had been there 10 years (picked up in a stretch limo, natch) and I think there was a tradition of giving them a pair of plane tickets anywhere in the world if they were there for 20 or 25 years. I was only there for 7 or 8 years so I did not enjoy those experiences, but was touched by the personal "thank you" every year. He even did a little research on each employee before the visit so he could chat about something with them. How many CEOs of giant international corporations do something like that?

      He was also a very good storyteller. I heard him give his recollections of operating Computerworld magazine, first in a house in Newtonville and then in Harvard Square in the 60s. Very funny. He also was the first or one of the first American businessmen to visit China to expand operations, which would have been in 1980 or thereabouts.

      FWIW, IDG alums have gone onto found lots of community blogs: U Hub, Swellesley Report, and there's one down in DC as well.

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      A good way to pay tribute to this good and decent man would be

      to emulate him and make sure he is not the last of his kind. Once upon a time, for example, Dow Jones and the Wall St. Journal were populated by (admittedly paternalistic) bosses who treated "secretaries" like their daughters and enjoyed seeing people succeed. Work anniversaries were marked by trips to NYC to meet the top executives and members of the Bancroft and Cox families, the owners. That all ended with the unsolicited offer by Rupert Murdoch and NewsCorp. Today, stories are told of employees in Boston, NY and elsewhere with 20, 30 and 40 years tenure being shown the street for no other reason than saving the company 10 or 20k a year by hiring a younger replacement. (The pension program did not survive the buyout so people were faced with no pension and being in the job market at 50-65 years old. Sure it's illegal. When was the last time you heard of anyone in the private sector actually winning an age discrimination suit?) The number one newspaper by circulation in America.So sleep well Pat. You went too soon. Rupert will probably live to be 100.