Michael Slater is dying of intestinal cancer. He posted the news this week on his Facebook account and blog. And he said the illness has forced him to make the difficult decision of putting his eight-year-old tech company, Webvanta, up for sale.
It’s a sad reason to sell a business, and it is urgent, as Slater said he doesn’t know how much longer he has to live. Webvanta is a software-as-a-service content management system platform and web development agency. It helps companies create and maintain complex websites.
Slater founded Webvanta eight years ago, and he said it has been a tough business. He explained that Webvanta was “really starting to hum last fall,” but then “the world shifted.” He had been trying to ignore a nagging gut pain, but in November, he was diagnosed with an inoperable cancer.
“As my pain level increased, pain meds began affecting my state of mind, and medical appointments filled up half my week,” he wrote. “It became apparent that continuing to run Webvanta was not something I could do much longer.”
He said his top priority is to ensure continuity of service for all of his customers.
“The business needs more resources to do so reliably, so we we have made the difficult decision to seek a buyer,” he said.
He said he is moving quickly to identify bidders by the end of April and to close a deal in May.
I’ve known Slater for a long time, and his condition saddens me. Slater ran the Microprocessor Report and the Microprocessor Forum for 12 years. He did an excellent job sorting through the complexities of designing microprocessors, which are the foundation for modern computing. He provided the industry with a neutral ground for vetting technical ideas that could move the industry forward, and that wasn’t easy.
Big companies such as Intel were at war with rivals such as Advanced Micro Devices and Cyrix. Slater captured what was going on and cut through a lot of the obfuscations and hype that surrounded even the most technical of topics. Slater was able to zoom in on the details and then pull out to the bird’s-eye view to explain the significance to tech reporters like me. He eventually sold the business and went on to work at Adobe. In 2007, he created Sebastopol, Calif.-based Webvanta and wound up focusing on enabling educational websites.
Slater has created a great legacy, and he’s done it with a wry sense of humor. He is writing about his struggle with cancer openly, and with dignity. I wish him the best in the days that he has left.