Max Hopper is the pre-eminent modern-era CIO and a founding father of IT-inspired competitive advantage.  In the book, Avi, the CEO of the Company, idolizes Hopper, after having studied the white paper that he wrote entitled “Rattling Sabre”.

Max played a significant role in my own career.  He had just come back to Sabre from Bank of America at a time when I was recruited to work on a project that became known as Capture.  I wanted to recommend buying a company from the Silicon Valley for $5 million dollars.  He made sure that I had the resources that I needed to get the business plan done and supported me and actually allowed me to pitch the deal directly to Bob Crandall when it came time to request the funding, which we got.

I was a college dropout, but he didn’t know that and quite frankly he didn’t care.  In his early college days, he had see the “educational snobbery” of those that went to better schools than he did, but he knew he was smarter (or at least as smart) as they were.  Max had graduated from high school at 16 years old.  He was a brilliant man and a very, very nice man with a big infectious smile and a great laugh.

Max was interviewed before his death by the Computerworld Honors Program for the International Archives at the Smithsonian, a fascinating life story. At the end of that interview, when asked what impact he felt that he has left on the world of computing he said this:

“In terms of accomplishments, I guess I’d like to be remembered for having some insight as to how technology could be applied, and at least willing to take the risk to try to apply it once or twice. We’ll let people judge whether it was successful. Again, I’ve always liked—we can go way back—solving business problems and having maybe a willingness to take risks in trying to get some of them solved. It’s been a fun and very fortunate time for me. Whatever capabilities I had seemed to fit in and I’ve been allowed to work with a lot of people in a lot of scenarios that allowed me to do things, and I feel very fortunate that that was the case.”

I feel very fortunate to have worked closely with Max.  RIP friend.

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