I can't say whether Steve Martin's book "The Real Story of Informix Software & Phil White" is the real story or not, but it is an interesting read for those who are curious about the rise and fall of Informix. Steve Martin was one of the bright shining lights at Informix helping to propel the company to revenue growth from $100 million to over a billion and a market cap of five billion. However, as almost everyone knows, Informix unraveled in a series of blunders ranging from the acquisition of object-database technology Illustra to allegations of fraud, re-stated earnings and a revolving door of CEOs who failed to get the company back on track.
Steve Martin takes you behind the scenes to get his perspective on the inner workings of Informix and the environment that founder Roger Sippl and CEO Phil White created. Despite Martin's involvement at Informix, the book is balanced if not completely objective and includes a good interview with Phil White in the weeks before he was sentenced to jail time on criminal charges.
While the book is about an earlier era of the software industry, it does a good job showing what can go wrong when a CEO starts believing his or her own PR and when employees start cutting corners in order to make their numbers. There are good lessons here for any rapidly growing company, whether open source or not.