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December 2004

ROC Software CEO Compton dies at 40

Leading advocate of HP 3000 community leaves family, datacenter vendor as legacy

Danny Compton, CEO of ROC Software, a company that has one of the largest groups of HP 3000 customers, died on November 17 in Austin, Texas. Compton was 40 when he died of a systemic infection which followed surgery to install a pacemaker.

Compton had created ROC with his wife Wendy and two other partners in 1999, taking on the HP 3000 software products and customers from Tivoli Software that didn’t fit into Tivoli’s future plans. ROC opened its doors with support for Formation, but soon had acquired all of the products which were at the heart of former HP 3000 software firm Unison-Tymlabs: Maestro, BackPack, Spoolmate and more.

Compton had passed over ROC’s key management duties as of last year. ROC’s board of directors has named Janet Slack to replace Compton as CEO; she’s served as president of the company since 2002 and CFO since 2000. Mike Broadway had taken over Compton’s duties as Chief Technical Officer in 2003.

Slack said the loss of Compton to the business he helped to found is not as great as the loss his friends feel.

“As far as the business goes, we don’t really have changes we’re making,” she said. “Danny put a great management team in place and we’re continuing to execute to plan. The biggest thing we’re trying to deal with right now is the loss of a good friend.”

Compton was a co-founder of ROC with his wife of 21 years. He had a lifelong history of starting companies, beginning with an enterprise at age 9 where he sold coffee in the lengthy gas lines of the 1970s in Southern California where he grew up. Doctors believed Compton, who was born with a serious congenital heart defect, wouldn’t live to see the end of grammar school.

In interviews Compton showed a sense of humor and a spirit of enthusiasm which helped fuel his entrepreneurial drive. He expressed a desire to get to work early on everything in his life, from starting his family to learning job skills. At 14 he walked into a print shop and discovered the staff had left for the day without locking up. Compton called the owner to report, and when asked what he wanted as a reward said that he’d like to learn the printing business. Compton graduated from high school early and did his high school computer coursework on an HP 3000.

“It’s my belief that you figure out what you want in life and go after it,” he said.

ROC wanted to take on thousands of customers in its acquisition, creating another MPE supplier seemingly overnight from the ashes of Unison and Tymlabs. As 3000 providers began to adapt to the reality of the Transition era, Compton said he stood fast on the path of 3000 development, rather than the pursuit of migration products and services.

“I said if ROC’s going that way, I’m not working here — Oh wait, I own the place,” he joked.

Compton helped expand the scope of ROC’s business to include non-3000 systems in customer sites — but at the same time the company added datacenter solutions for MPE/iX. ROC stepped in to provide scheduling software that communicated with the HP 3000 and Unix systems on an equal footing. Early this year the company completed an acquisition of Seay Systems, makers of spooler software for Unix systems. The acquisition increased ROC’s customer base from around 3,000 companies to more than 4,000.

But Compton dedicated himself to more than business success. He and his wife established the Nettie Lou Inman Foundation, named after Danny’s mother, dedicated to charitable giving for a wide variety of causes such as the Kids Heart Camp and the Hill Country Ride for AIDS.

Compton is survived by his children Raymond, Tabbatha and Steven. Memorial donations can be made to Children’s Hospital, 4650 Sunset Blvd. MS#29, Los Angeles, CA 90027; Camp Del Corazon, 11615 Hesby Street, North Hollywood, CA 91601; Texas Children’s Hospital, Office of Development, PO Box 300630 Mc 4-4483, Houston, TX 77230; and Camp Taylor, PO Box 1722, Modesto, CA 95353.


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