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Cycorp: The Cost of Common Sense (01 Feb 2005)
Ask most companies how they bring value to the market and they’ll point to their products. Cycorp is a bit different. The 10-year-old company cares about the services it sells—but mainly because they bankroll its true quest: creating a “knowledge base” called Cyc that can endow computers with something approaching common sense. This quest has been so time-consuming that most venture capitalists would long ago have written off their investments—or demanded the CEO’s head on a platter. That Doug Lenat and his 54 employees have avoided this fate is a lesson in managing long-term, visionary R&D projects.
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