Greg and I met in July 1994 and I brought him up to speed. In September 1994 I retained him. We were closing in on a $32 million dollar year, and Greg felt we could get 1x sales or about ten times profit for the company. Greg began working the market in late 1994 after gathering all the materials. By March he had three buyers for us. NCR had spun off its semiconductor operation into a company called Symbios. They were very interested in our company. Greg had also gone back to Western Digital, and they had begun to think that our company might be a fit. Finally Greg had talked to Emulex, an Orange county high end controller company and they had some interest. The most serious interest by far was Symbios.
I had explicitly excluded Adaptec from the search. I told Greg I did not trust John Adler after our experience with him in the mid-eighties. I was surprised in January of 1995 when Greg asked me to lunch and told me that John Adler had personally called him and said he was interested in acquiring Future Domain. My initial reaction was, absolutely not! I told Greg I did not trust John, and that my company could suffer irreparable damage if we opened the kimono and then Adaptec walked away. John Adler had worked for IBM early in his career, and I felt that our strong relationship with IBM really bugged him. I felt he wanted to get the inside scoop on our IBM relationship so he could torpedo it. Greg said he understood, and he told Adler that.
A couple of weeks later Greg called me and said he heard something that he had never heard from a public company, John Adler was willing to do a limited due diligence. Greg said Adler wanted to fly down to Irvine and meet with Patty and me. After Greg did some convincing on me, I agreed.
About mid February 1995 Patty and I met with John Adler at Greg Presson’s offices. We spent the whole morning. I was skeptical as we entered the meeting, but by the end I had changed my mind. John made a strong case why he needed to buy Future Domain. Adaptec was strong in the server and RAID adapter business, but had completely missed out on the multimedia business. He also was impressed by our IBM relationship. He was impressed by our relationship with Microsoft on the new Plug and Play initiative for the new Windows 95 operating system. Our hardware, and more importantly CD-ROM software, was the best in the industry. Finally John said he was impressed by our people and wanted to retain most of them when Future Domain and Adaptec merged. He would open an Orange County facility to retain them. I expressed my concern about due diligence, and John confirmed what Greg told me. Jon understood my reluctance after what happened in 1987. Because of that he was willing to do a minimal due diligence. We parted agreeing to continue our discussions.
At that point I was still more inclined to go with Symbios. I told Greg I still had concerns with Adaptec. Greg and I flew to Colorado the next week to meet with the Symbios CEO. Unfortunately, he had bad news. NCR had just agreed to sell Symbios to the Korean company Hyundai. Because of this any deal would have to be approved by the Koreans after Symbios had been acquired, and that could take several months depending on government approvals. The Symbios CEO was emphatic that he still wanted to buy our company, but his hands were tied for now. He would act as soon as he could. On the plane back to California I told Greg that it appeared our best alternative was Adaptec. Should Adaptec fall through we would have Symbios as a backup. With that, Greg began working on the deal.