Standing Up to MOM

The word "argent" can mean many things: the tincture of silver, a semi-successful 1970s English rock band, or -- for our purposes -- a Microsoft-focused systems management vendor whose biggest competitor is Microsoft itself.

The company was launched in New York in 1990 by feisty Australian-born CEO Andrew Blencowe, who remains CEO 16 years later. Argent was built with an aggressive support model in mind.

"The original concept is the same as the concept today. It's based on the premise that most software companies are staffed by arrogant incompetents," Blencowe explains. "Software is such an amazing medium to work in. Because it's so flexible, so fungible, it very quickly invites hubris and arrogance -- make the sale, screw the customer. Argent's foundation has always been to provide more support than a customer needs, which is a novel concept in the software industry."

Andrew Blencowe, CEO, Argent

Blencowe so believed in his idea that he took no outside capital and suffered through the recession of 1991. That November, the company lost some $128,000 on sales of less than $10,000.

Today Argent has 400 employees, four locations and a couple thousand customers. It will need all of this bulk to compete with Microsoft, whose Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) tool (now Systems Center Operations Manager 2007) is aimed squarely at Argent's market. But Argent is hardly shy about standing up to Microsoft.

"As my old Australian Rules football coach, and a former player, used to say: 'I hate playing against Psycho' -- my pet name on the team -- 'because he is always on you ... He's not the best player, he's just one that hits you the hardest.' Our approach to Microsoft is the same -- timidity about the 900 pound gorilla is a mistake in our view," Blencowe insists.

This approach speaks volumes about the corporate culture. "Let's just say we're not candidates for any political correctness award," Blencowe says. If Blencowe is to be believed, his company would be an HR director's nightmare, as it's staffed by "the usual mixture of defrocked preachers, boat sinkers who claim insurance, psychopaths, toothless ex-junkies and others normally found in technology companies."

The company is now rewriting its monitoring tools in .NET, a project code-named Mobar set to bear fruit late this year. Under this plan, there will no longer be separate Web and GUI interfaces. The rewrite will also support remote debugging and diagnostics. Further down the road the .NET version will allow Argent to sell its software as a service.

Argent is also developing a series of customer steering committees, a formal way for customers to help drive future product designs, features and directions.

And as for the name? Blencowe was looking for something that would make it to the top of the Yellow Pages. "I wanted a name that started with A to get the top of alphabetic indexes, and something easy to spell. We were lucky enough to get the domain registered early."

So how often does Argent talk to Microsoft? Pretty much never.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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Reader Comments:

Mon, Mar 21, 2011

Can't believe Andrew wrote all these comments trying to protect himself from all those stories around him. He cannot blame anyone as he made all those people his enemies. I wonder how poor his life is. As he likes to say, he is like kept in the dark like a mushroomk in Korea.

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Sun, Oct 24, 2010

Early 90's? Why do you come back after 20 yrs to comment on a guy you are not even able to spell his name correctly? Poor story ...

Wed, Sep 15, 2010

I helped Start Argent in the company in the early 90s with a bunch of guys under the supervision of Scott Macausland now owner of MVP Software the only thing these guys were interested in was money and thats it.Forget Technical Support it was a joke .The sofware worked like crap they would try to fix bugs everytime a customer complained, which was every customer I sold,and 90% of the time the fixes wouldnt work,I was the 2nd highest producer for Argent for about 4 years. Andrew Blencoe is a thief from Austrailia and a terrible code writer. Yes Andrew stick to Soccer,Rugby,Austrailian Rules Football whatever games you enjoy playing along with Playing the code writing game .Blencoe is a certified Megalomaniac,Psychotic.He ran a boiler room based in Torrington CT and treated all of us like we were shit.Constantly degrading you while you were trying to sell his shit.While he wasnt degrading you Scott Macausland would be degrading you .It was the most insane working environment I ever worked in.As I understand it Blencoe had to leave the USA for korea because hes in trouble with the IRS for tax evasion and Macausland is calling all of his old customer base nice job Scott

Mon, Aug 9, 2010 Sam

How can those don't have the balls to leave a comment with their names expect people to believe them??? Argent XT is great, Argent AT is even better, ask anyone of the existing customers, this is pure bullshit that Argent reboots your server. Get real! If you are really looking at Argent ask an Account Manager to provide you with the contact of existing customers and check reference. The lamers complaining here got personal things against the boss and those who run the whole show.

Fri, Aug 28, 2009 anon New York

Yes, as noted above, I worked for them and Blencowe is a megalomaniac and psychopath to the point where the absurdity of his dictates and his completely ludicrous and fatuous persona would be hilarous...if other peoples' livelihoods weren't at stake.

Tue, May 5, 2009 No Name Singapore

The company I work for recently purchased these products and they are great. Very flexible and support is really second to none.

Tue, Mar 24, 2009 Rich NY

Never use this product. The Support is terrible.

Wed, Dec 31, 2008 Renju India

Very amaizing products. Me worked for them for a while

Mon, Dec 1, 2008 Jack Lesley Houston, Texas

Good products, interesting article.

I too used to work for them and I do not agree with the comments posted by "anonymous" above.

Thu, Nov 20, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

The article is a joke... I worked for these people for about a year. First off, Andrew Blencowe is completely insane. He has lived outside the USA for about 6 years now and has completely lost touch with how business is done in the US. Most of the company is run by a couple of fresh-out-of-college kids in Hong Kong.

The Argent XT products do not work. They have invested literally nothing in fixing known bugs and instead focus only on selling new software. If you are looking at buying from them, they will happily customize a solution for you. Once you have paid them, don't count on decent support and don't count on EVER having bugs fixed when you find them.

A quote from the Argent CEO (Andrew Blencowe) himself:

Fri, Nov 7, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

I have all my teeth. Yet Argent is a bad product. It crashes servers and is really way more expensinve and way less effective than HP Openview or any other monitoring product. Argent will boot your servers for no reason. It works fine for a short time and as you get further along you will use it less and less, till you just get rid of it, and your boss asks you why he needs to justify the high cost for it, and you are out of answers.

Tue, Oct 9, 2007 Anonymous Anonymous

Interesting article. I wonder how well they are actually able to compete with MOM and SC.

Fri, Jul 15, 2005 Herman Hendersonville, NC

I began to load my Microsoft Publisher 98 and ran into a problem. The CD called for an eleven digit CD number which I didn't have. My PRODUCT KEY IS 28 digits long counting letters and dashes. My product key is T27R7-XCPK8-43MHH-B23XR-WY8VW. Request your assistance. Sincerely, Herman C. Baldwin

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