SONY: PLAYSTATION Junior Sony Employee Ken Kutaragi bought his daughter a Nintendo game system but was unsatisfied with the sound quality. He recognized that he could improve it by adding a digital chip within the system that was solely focused on sound. He started working as a contractor with Nintendo to improve their gaming systems. He was also working for Sony but, at that time, Sony wasn’t in the gaming business. Despite negative pushback from executives, Sony’s CEO saw potential in Kutaragi’s efforts. Eventually, Sony entered the gaming market, investing $2.5 billion in “Playstation.” By 1998, Playstation was providing 40 percent of the company’s operating profits. W.L. GORE: ELIXIR STRINGS W.L. Gore allowed employees to have personal project time each day. While working with guitar strings coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) to test how to make a better push cable), employee Dave Myers wondered if they could actually make a better guitar string by tinkering with the coating. A lot of research and several trials later, they found that coating a guitar string with NANOWEB ® and POLYWEB ® made the strings more comfortable and kept them in-tune for longer. They were launched by W.L. Gore and are a top-selling guitar string brand. LOCKHEED MARTIN: SKUNKWORKS The Skunk Works is an autonomous aeronautics organization within Lockheed Martin that has created successful, innovative aircraft since the 1940s. The company has received seven Collier Trophies and the National Medal of Technology. The Skunk Works says, “Our unique organization started in 1943 when visionary Clarence ‘Kelly’ Johnson got the green light to create an experimental engineering department to begin work on the secret XP-80 Shooting Star jet fighter. Johnson and his team designed and built the XP-80 in only 143 days, seven less than was required. It was this project that marked the birth of what would become the Skunk Works with Kelly Johnson at its helm. What allowed Johnson to operate the Skunk Works so effectively and efficiently was his unconventional organizational approach. He broke the rules, challenging the current bureaucratic system that stifled innovation and hindered progress. His philosophy is spelled out in his ‘14 rules and practices.’” The Skunk Work’s creations include XP-80, XF-104 (first fighter to achieve Mach 2 speed), U-2A (developed to spy on the Soviet Union), D021, SR-71 Blackbird, U-2, F-117 (the world’s first stealth fighter), YF-22 (might be the most advanced fighter technology in the world), and the F-35. TEXAS INSTRUMENTS: VIDEO PROJECTORS Larry Hornbeck, researcher at TI, started working with arrays of tiny mirrors to redirect light, eventually developing the Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) in 1987. In 1993, TI expanded on Hornbeck’s project, creating an entire division to explore all-digital optical devices. At that time, projectors were extremely expensive and heavy. With continued research, video projectors were significantly streamlined and became smaller and less costly. Hornbeck received an Emmy for “Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development” in 1998. Some “first to market” innovations: ■ first digital cinema ■ first portable projector ■ first 3D digital cinema, TV and projector GOOGLE: GMAIL Gmail was created by Google employee, Paul Buchheit. He was tasked to create an “email thing,” a project had been passed from employee to employee for several years. In one day, Buchheit had already built a search engine for his own email. Soon, it also searched the emails of other Google employees. After three years of tweaking, Gmail launched on April 1, 2004. By 2012, Gmail had 425 million active users. INTRAPRENEURSHIP ATWORK 23 22