ALAN ASHTON, the co-founder of WordPerfect, was made megarich by selling his creation to Novell last year. Even though he sits on the board, Ashton believes the computer networking giant has badly handled its $855 million acquisition. Recently, Novell announced it wanted to unload WordPerfect.
Ashton, who as a Brigham Young computer professor founded WordPerfect in 1979, blames Novell for axing the original sales force who knew best how to sell the word processing software. WordPerfect has suffered against Microsoft, which is outpacing it in bundled office software. Novell officials counter that WordPerfect was slow to bring out a Windows version of its software.
With more than $400 million from the sale, Ashton, 53, isn't interested in buying back his company. Instead, he is giving $50 million to fund an environmentally minded nonprofit project in Utah called Thanksgiving Point. The 400-acre greenbelt project along the Jordan River between Provo and Salt Lake City is due to open next year. It initially will contain botanical gardens, a public golf course, a farmer's market, and an animal farm.