Although the Lopkers haven't gone out of their way to dispute the Forbes analysis, they acknowledge it may owe more to Wall Street's current infatuation with high-tech companies than the actual value of QAD. A private firm that evaluated the company came up with a "significantly" lower value based on the profiles of similar companies, Karl says.
"In the high-tech stock market, one company does $100-million worth of business and is valued at $100 million, and another one does $100 million and is valued at a billion," he says. "There is some magic associated and some press associated with one versus the other."
Pam's picture on the cover of Forbes certainly brought some of the latter QAD's way. During a customers' meeting on the East Coast in late November, she gave away about 300 autographed Forbes reprints. In some ways, the timing could not have been more magical: The Lopkers had already decided to take their company public, probably some- time this year. Forbes' seal of approval could only help sell their initial public offering to brokerage houses.
Her accelerated travel schedule toward the end of 1996, plus all the time she spent on the telephone and computer, aggravated her chronically stiff neck, the result of a car accident 20 years ago. She took a prescription pain killer, but the medicine didn't appear to slow her down. Two days before Christmas, she was back in her office, serenely wrapping her family's gifts on the conference table and making plans for an upcoming annual meeting of QAD's sales staff.
Lopker insists she could be just as happy working for someone else as running her own company. "People always say, could you ever believe you would be as successful as you are, and our answer is always 'yeah, we think this is what we planned.' And it really was," she says. At the same time, they have had little opportunity to enjoy that success: Since she started the company, they go away only a week at a time. "It's not like it's ever over; it's just part of your body," she says. "I think QAD has allowed us to have a very global perspective on the world. Going to anything else would seem anticlimactic. If you think about it, what would I do with my kind of mind if there wasn't technology?"
Yet occasionally she wonders if her hectic schedule and new visibility will lead her to a place she would rather not go. Recently, Lopker saw a celebrity at a Montecito nursery. According to Lopker, the woman threw a fit because she had to wait for a salesperson. The one who had been helping Lopker ran off to help the celebrity, apologizing that the imposing lady with the big voice was a valued customer.
"I was thinking at the time, 'Well, you know, that wasn't very nice. . . . I was here first, and he was helping me, but go ahead,' " Lopker laughs. "She was so outspoken, and I'm thinking: 'Oh, I might end up being like that.' "
Longtime friend and associate Whatley doubts that. As Lopker was on her way to a second Forbes photo shoot in November, this time for a special "Women of the Silicon Valley" issue, Whatley asked what her boss thought about "all this fun publicity." Lopker shrugged it off, saying that while it was exciting, it was not nearly as inspiring as the technology.
"That sort of tells you," Whatley explains: "She is so pretty and personable, but she is really a techie underneath it all."