has been the Director of Microsoft University, a technology educational branch of the Italian publishinggroup Mondadori for 11 years up to the year 2000. He then left Mondadori and begun a very prestigious managerial career becoming in sequence Country Manager of Microsoft MSN Italia (the world wide information portal created by Microsoft), the President of Condé Nast Digital (responsible of all world wide Internet activities for the New York based mega publisher), the Country Director of Google Italia (one year ago) and the Europe Middle East and Africa Vice President of Godaddy (the major US Internet provider). He is undoubtedly a prime figure in the world wide technology-related publishing business and just during his recent experience in Google, he managed to double the revenues of Google Italy in just one year, reaching the mark of 1 billion dollars. Here is what he states about me:
“I knew Roberto in the Spring of 1985. I already had enough competence in computer technology and read regularly the magazines of Gruppo Editoriale Jackson. I wanted to offer my services as a freelance for one of their magazines so I summoned up all the courage that I could find and called the editorial office. On the other side of the line was Roberto Mazzoni who, with great kindness and openness, invited me to join him at the editorial office for a meeting and an interview. Since that day, only positive things happened to me and I cannot remember that moment without feeling a lot of gratitude and a taste of emotion because it was a very simple, spontaneous and constructive meeting. It taught me that one of the key duties of anyone holding a position in a company is to offer a chance to others so that they can emerge, express their talent and their potential.
As soon as I hung up the phone, I jumped on the underground and reached Roberto at the editorial office. Since then I worked for him and with him for at least 12 years, while our careers evolved in parallel, often touching indirectly and continuously, and I always received support and advice from him.
Which role did Roberto have in the evolution of the computer market in Italy?
I believe it was simply central although it is difficult to reach an objective and formal measure of the work he performed and of the value he brought to the industry. For many years Roberto has been a careful, qualified and precise popularizer of know-how, an activity even more valuable considering that he performed it in the backward and stupidly conservative Italian market. Through the magazines that he directed, he entered into the houses of Italians to explain them what at that time was called “computer science”, performing indirectly the role of prime educator. He had authority and humility at the same time, two enviable qualities.
What do you remember of Roberto at that time?
I have always been struck by the professionalism, the commitment and the competence that Roberto has always demonstrated in his work, devoting also many hours of his personal life to the achievement of the objectives given to the magazines he directed. His spirit of sacrifice combined with specific competences and managerial skills, which became more and more polished, built him into a model and an example that inspired me in my early days of my working career. In addition to these qualities, we must acknowledge he had also a keen propensity for dialogue, an ability to listen and a sincere openness toward innovation and toward anybody who had something interesting and exciting to offer.
How would you define Roberto as an author and a computer science Journalist?
Capable, competent, swift, gifted. These were his main qualities coupled with such a knowledge of the market and of the industry which always allowed him to understand the current scenarios and to predict future developments. Therefore he was not only a competent journalist, but also a thinking resource capable of predicting beyond the scenarios that existed at that moment.
Which was Roberto’s biggest success or achievement?
From my point of view, Roberto has been a reference model for the Italian computer science community through his role of editor-in-chief of many publications. His role of evangelist was felt for years and he helped building around himself a level of culture and competence in the subject matters he discussed which was suitable for the needs of the time. For sure, his two main successes were the magazines PC Professionale and PC Week. He conceived PC Professionale from scratch and he took over PC Week after its beginning, and brought both of them to unprecedented levels of sales, circulation and editorial quality, becoming the de-facto Italian Bible for computer science and keeping that position for several years until the coming of the Internet. This is an evaluation I do with both with a business perspective and the viewpoint of a reader.
Having seen him in action from the inside, I feel an even greater admiration for the work he has performed and I can even better appreciate it. Roberto’s diligence, tenacity, professionalism and commitment have been the main ingredients of his success in the Italian publishing market. To these we must add his specific competence on the subject matter and his ability to develop relationships with companies in the industry, leveraging his own charisma and the respect he gained over the years, a winning cocktail for both his publishing company and his readers.
Would you define Roberto as one of the few key journalists in the Italian computer science market?
For sure and I don’t mind repeating what I said before. Roberto has been an example for the whole industry for many, many years, actually inventing the whole segment of technical publications in Italy and successfully directing the most prestigious magazines. He set an example. The only drawback that I care to mention in his career was the absence of an illuminated publisher who could understand how to enter the consumer electronics segment and who had the slightest vision and competence to enable his people to reach their excellence. Had he been given more support and resources, Roberto would have guided the transition to the consumer digital world in an exemplary fashion and would have known what do to.