Given all the talk about this entrepreneurial company inside the World Trade Center, it wouldn’t be surprising if many of you are asking what did this Baseline do? Baseline was a software application. More specifically, it was a desktop tool for institutional portfolio managers. It was an institutional grade “stock picker’s tool.”
A Stock Picker’s Tool
Baseline helped the asset management community with three key tasks—researching individual stocks, evaluating the holdings of their portfolios, and helping them market their ideas to clients. On September 11, 2001, it was in the midst of its greatest growth spurt. Building upon earlier momentum and an array of new product features, Baseline had a thousand financial firms as clients with over 10,000 individual users.
Baseline was founded by an amazing man—Rob Patterson. From the Introduction of UNDAUNTED, the book, …
“For someone who held degrees from both Harvard and Stanford, Rob was incredibly unpretentious. Brilliant, but kind, steadfast, but fair, he was a classic entrepreneur who possessed a creative, inventive flair. He cared little about personal wealth and less about his own public persona. While Rob was patient, his pursuit of perfection was undeterred. After spending several years in the proverbial start-up wilderness, he finally discovered the right recipe for success.”
The Second Founding of Baseline
Being the founder of a company is never easy. Most fail. Others drag along. For nearly ten years and while bootstrapping his organization, Rob dragged his “original” Baseline along until he sought the funding that would enable him to realize his dream. With a $4 million investment in 1989 from Bowne & Co., the financial printing company, Rob Patterson went about hiring a larger team and implementing his true vision. When he released his “New Baseline” in 1991 revenue soared. It was an unmitigated entrepreneurial success story. UNDAUNTED will delve more deeply into Rob’s vision and the corporate culture he engendered.
Portfolio Managers found the product addictive. Mark Weiss, Chief Investment Officer of Virtonos Capital in Massachusetts, and a former user at Loomis Sayles, said:
“I don’t think I have ever met one investment professional who didn’t marvel at the brilliant and elegant simplicity of Baseline. It was one of the first investment applications I ever learned and I have always judged other applications against it for ease of use.”
Rightly or wrongly, this success propelled us in 1999 to find new space. We proudly moved into the World Trade Center in September of that year. That decision—which was thoroughly explored along with other options—will haunt me and the management team for a very long time.
UNDAUNTED will be published by Koehler Books on September 11, 2021—the 20th Anniversary of 9/11. Pre-orders will be available. I will notify everyone via this website, and via email to those who have signed-up to join the UNDAUNTED community.
Baseline was my first job out of college and one that holds a special place in my heart. I learned everything from software engineering, networking, sales, and portfolio management all through one Company that gave a 22 year old college grad a chance at corporate America. Most importantly I learned from a great group of professionals, some of which after 15 years i remain in touch. As for Rob, he was memorable with his compassion for the Company and always striving for more. I very clearly remember him calling me into his office as I was roaming the halls and telling me about how he started Baseline. The spark is something i still talk about with many of my younger colleagues looking for inspiration.