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JoMei Chang: The Right Way to Do Business
by Brandon Sawyer

A massive copper waterfall dominates the offices of Vitria Technology in Sunnyvale, Calif. Flowing almost silently, the fixture seems to murmur: Why can't business be a beautiful thing?

For co-founder JoMei Chang, it is. The Taiwanese-born entrepreneur has blended gentility with shrewdness to create an integration software company with more than 100 percent sales growth over the last year. In 1994, she and husband Dale Skeen, Vitria's chief technology officer, started the company with their own seed capital and angel investors. The company went public in mid-September and since then its stock price has risen more than 1,000 percent.

Chang explains this phenomenal success in deceptively simple terms: "We do well by moving up the standard, rather than by beating down competitors. I believe fundamentally that good guys will win in the long term."

Chang originally came to the United States on a $250 per month scholarship to Purdue University, where she received her Ph.D. in database management systems. She and her husband founded Teknekron Software Systems (now Tibco), which they sold before forming Vitria. This gave them their first taste of financial independence.

"That's the moment in life you face the truth about yourself: `Well, I don't have to work for a living. What do I want to do for the rest of my life?'"

The answer came instantly: to build a lasting successful company where employees like herself could enjoy the process.

Although work is a passion for Chang, she believes the right balance between work and spare time adds up to greater productivity. Her best ideas emerge while she's away from her desk, walking in her garden or on the beach.

Contentment, she says, is not about financial success, but rather business success continually achieving the next milestone. "A company can be wonderfully successful by doing the right things, by focusing on win-win relationships with customers, partners and employees. I call that beautiful."

Tune into PBS' Nightly Business Report tonight for the full interview with's Donald Van de Mark and JoMei Chang in our Prime Movers segment. Prime Movers is on every Thursday, check your local listings for times.

Related Items:
Prime Movers archive

E-mail Brandon Sawyer

Web Links:
Vitria Technology Inc.

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