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Merrill Lynch Rips Sun

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the harsh-advice dept.

Sun Microsystems 428

cosjef writes "In an open letter to Sun, an analyst for Merrill Lynch tells Sun to change or risk adding itself to the junkyard of formerly-great technology companies like DEC or Data General. The letter even recommends taking the helm away from McNealy, whose 'brash and contrarian personality have been synonymous with the company's image and success. Unfortunately, the act is getting old.' Sun's mistakes are well documented, but the biggest one is believing that what made them successful in the past would make them successful in the future."

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GNAA - 0 to hello.jpg in 4.6 seconds! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122564)

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am Mr. Darl McBride currently serving as the president and chief executive officer of the SCO Group, formerly known as Caldera Systems International, in Lindon, Utah, United States of America. I know this letter might surprise you because we have had no previous communications or business dealings before now.

My associates have recently made claim to computer softwares worth an estimated $1 billion U.S. dollars. I am writing to you in confidence because we urgently require your assistance to obtain these funds.

In the early 1970s the American Telephone and Telegraph corporation developed at great expense the computer operating system software known as UNIX. Unfortunately the laws of my country prohibited them from selling these softwares and so their valuable source codes remained privately held. Under a special arrangement some programmers from the California University of Berkeley did add more codes to this operating system, increasing its value, but not in any way to dilute or disparage our full and rightful ownership of these codes, despite any agreement between American Telephone and Telegraph and the California University of Berkeley, which agreement we deny and disavow.

In the year 1984 a change of regime in my country allowed the American Telephone and Telegraph corporation to make profits from these softwares. In the year 1990 ownership of these softwares was transferred to the corporation UNIX System Laboratories. In the year 1993 this corporation was sold to the corporation Novell. In the year 1994 some employees of Novell formed the corporation Caldera Systems International, which began to distribute an upstart operating system known as Linux. In the year 1995 Novell sold the UNIX software codes to SCO. In the year 2001 occurred a separation of SCO, and the SCO brand name and UNIX codes were acquired by the Caldera Systems International, and in the following year the Caldera Systems International was renamed SCO Group, of which i currently serve as chief executive officer.

My associates and I of the SCO Group are therefore the full and rightful owners of the operating system softwares known as UNIX. Our engineers have discovered that no fewer than seventy (70) lines of our valuable and proprietary source codes have appeared in the upstart operating system Linux. As you can plainly see, this gives us a claim on the millions of lines of valuable software codes which comprise this Linux and which has been sold at great profit to very many business enterprises. Our legal experts have advised us that our contribution to these codes is worth an estimated one (1) billion U.S. dollars.

Unfortunately we are having difficulty extracting our funds from these computer softwares. To this effect i have been given the mandate by my colleagues to contact you and ask for your assistance. We are prepared to sell you a share in this enterprise, which will soon be very profitable, that will grant you the rights to use these valuable softwares in your business enterprise. Unfortunately we are not able at this time to set a price on these rights. Therefore it is our respectful suggestion, that you may be immediately a party to this enterprise, before others accept these lucrative terms, that you send us the number of a banking account where we can withdraw funds of a suitable amount to guarantee your participation in this enterprise. As an alternative you may send us the number and expiration date of your major credit card, or you may send to us a signed check from your banking account payable to "SCO Group" and with the amount left blank for us to conveniently supply.

Kindly treat this request as very important and strictly confidential. I honestly assure you that this transaction is 100% legal and risk-free.

Signed, GNAA president

PS. If you have mod points and would like to support GNAA, please moderate this post up.

________________________________________________
| ______________________________________._a,____ |
| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ |
| __ad#7!!*P____a.d#0a____#!-_#0i___.#!__W#0#___ |
| _j#'_.00#,___4#dP_"#,__j#,__0#Wi___*00P!_"#L,_ |
| _"#ga#9!01___"#01__40,_"4Lj#!_4#g_________"01_ |
| ________"#,___*@`__-N#____`___-!^_____________ |
| _________#1__________?________________________ |
| _________j1___________________________________ |
| ____a,___jk_GAY_NIGGER_ASSOCIATION_OF_AMERICA_ |
| ____!4yaa#l___________________________________ |
| ______-"!^____________________________________ |
` _______________________________________________'

YES BUT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122573)

I for welcome our sun ripping overlords!!!!!!!

Re:YES BUT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122742)

I'm work at Sun you insensitive clod.

Sun did themselves in (4, Insightful)

Mr. Darl McBride (704524) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122574)

It sounds obvious and par for the course today, but it wasn't until the 90s that a lot of high-end tech companies realized they could boost sales an order of magnitude with wide-spread advertising and clever PR games. It worked well for them, and the companies that never learned large-scale marketing are dead and gone. (DEC, Data General were two good examples.) That was while tech was new, and anything was a step up from no automation at all.

Unfortunately, many companies then made advertising and PR their primary products, slashing R&D because they thought they'd had their budget strategies wrong all along. Sun was king of this, apparently thinking a strong brand was what sold systems, not leading edge technology. Engineering went into the toilet, and now while Sun's still good at a few things, all but their most insanely-priced hardware is nothing better than what you get with off-the-shelf commodity components.

Today, people are researching to upgrade and evolve their server networks, not just grabbing the first implementation they think they understand. And that means it takes a lot more than McNealy's I-wanna-be-Steve-Jobs song and dance to sell product.

Re:Sun did themselves in (1, Funny)

Bull999999 (652264) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122600)

I think that the reason why Sun's sinking is that they spent too much on R&D and not enough on marketing. I believe that the reason why Dell is still profitable is that they kept their R&D to minimum, thus reducing their expenses.

Re:Sun did themselves in (5, Insightful)

Mr. Darl McBride (704524) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122648)

I think that the reason why Sun's sinking is that they spent too much on R&D and not enough on marketing. I believe that the reason why Dell is still profitable is that they kept their R&D to minimum, thus reducing their expenses.

Dell really represents a different market. They're a desktop provider first and a server provider second. Sun are the reverse.

I think Dell and Gateway's biggest success has been in pretty much cloning the IBM of the 80s, only at a fraction of the price. When you were buying IBM, you knew you were buying hardware that would last forever along with full support for as long as you were willing to pay for it.

Dell did exactly what IBM did, but did it with the same cheap parts you could get from anyone else. In the desktop market, you can get away with this much much much more than you can in the server market.

Re:Sun did themselves in (4, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122655)

I disagree.

I think mainly Microsoft and Linux did them in more then incompetant management. Today they are going crazy trying to jump into anything to keep them afloat.

Even if they became a cheap %100 Linux company the profit margins would be slim. Also IT likes to buy from one company. If corporate IT standardizes on IBM, HP, or Dell who would they buy a Unix or NT server from? Not from sun that is for sure. Unless its a very specific need that can not be meet by their competitors. Today with powerfull commodity hardware that is less common.

Microsoft really hurt them when W2k came out. Remember that CIO's think standardization == less costs. Most of the time standardizing on only Microsoft makes things worse. There is still no guaruntee of integration either but the suits do not want to here this.

Unix sadly is dying. WIndows and now Linux have eatin it up. Linux mostly replacing Unix but that too according to netcraft( no I do not want to sound like the BSD troll here )is lowering in marketshare because the suits like standardization on MS and .net.

But I actually do think Sun has terrible ways to bring out R&D to the market which could of saved them today.

Remember how Java started as a way to program cable boxes and interactive TV? Sun could not come up with a cost effective solution or Management thought that expensive Unix servers with big profit margins is only the thing they should sell. Its no wonder co-founder and top scientist Bill Joy left.

Any R&D left is being spent with no products being marketed which is fruitless.

Re:Sun did themselves in (1)

10Ghz (453478) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122777)

Linux mostly replacing Unix but that too according to netcraft( no I do not want to sound like the BSD troll here )is lowering in marketshare because the suits like standardization on MS and .net.


I believe you are mistaken. Or are you referring to the "5% of W2K3-install used to run Linux?"-news?

JAVA sucks? (1)

Davak (526912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122661)

The note was also hard-hitting about Sun's Java strategy, urging the company to spin off its Java division, asserting that "Java has been a technology success, a so-so branding effort, and a financial failure."
Now, I know that my programming with java was a horrible failure... but I still see java used everywhere. Is it a successful idea that just has not generated income for the original developers?

Spinning Java away from the parent company would seem like an excellent idea. Why tie the success or failure of two largely seperate systems together?

I don't see java dying... but maybe I'm just too surrounded by it...

Davak

While Sunss marketing improved they still rock (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122721)

Disclaimer: I am not a Sun employee and own no stocks but I do contracting work for them and like the company.

Saying that Sun is focused on marketing more than technology is rediculous to anyone who knows the company from inside. Sun makes computers in the high end that few can compete with. Up to 4 CPU's go with Intel+Linux but when we go over to 8 or 16 cpu's then both cost and performance are on Sun's side.

However Linux+Intel/AMD/PPC(IBM) are getting much better and cheaper and at a point I guess Sun won't be able to compete on the hardware side, and like SGI before it will have to make a switch and let go of the large margines etc...

I feel that Sun can survive that switch, its one of the best managed companies I worked with, thats a true live demonstration of how their own technology can be used to make the employees life easier.

A simplified view would look at Sun's declining server sales and say thats it... However Sun is huge and makes zillions of other things:

1. CPU's and special hardware - Sun ray is actually selling well and limited only by the lack of marketing drive to sell it. It works with Linux also so it allows cheaper deployment.

2. Sun owns Cobalt that make great Linux boxes.

3. Sun has a huge software stack including Solaris (that has quite a few features still missing from Windows/Linux) and star office. This allows Sun to offer an almost full hardware+software stack (including the application server) with the only thing missing being a database server. Only few companies can seriously compete in this level.

4. Sun has several divisions that do outsourcing work for many global companies including cellular operators etc...

Sun has many revenue streams many of which won't dry up even if the whole world left Sparc+Solaris and moved to Linux+Intel.

The reasons for Suns decline are:

1. Moving to Linux+Intel - yes it has a serious effect on the company and changes need to be made.

2. Dot com failure - Suns biggest clients were the dot coms and when they bombed Sun is trying to move into traditional industries. This takes time.

The Sun will rise again although I doubt the Sparc will be there ;) Sparc will probably marginalize in the long run (not in the next two three years though).

I have no doubt that these guys can pull it off though.

Re:Sun did themselves in (2, Informative)

4of12 (97621) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122781)


Engineering went into the toilet, and now while Sun's still good at a few things, all but their most insanely-priced hardware is nothing better

I disagree.

Sun's hardware is expensive, but generally pretty reliable. Up until a few years ago, it was worth the money. And still is, but only for a decreasing number of high-end niche areas (64-way systems hooked up to big SANs).

The difference in quality between Sun hardware and PC hardware is not as great now as it was 10 years ago. Back then, people paid for Sun hardware because it gave back performance and reliability that was a joke in the PC world.

But PC hardware is now "good enough" in terms of performance and reliability and the low price clinches it. CPU's are cheap enough you can afford redundant arrays of computing capacity for many applications.

This is not Sun's first near-death experience, though. The SPARC chip and migration away from the Motorola 680x0 was a risk they took that paid off. A lot of folks weren't too pleased with the big shift from BSD to SysV from SunOS 4 to 5, either.

But developing a high-performance RISC chip costs too much relative to what the returns are from selling a few specialized systems. Why should I buy an UltraSPARC V, Power 5, PA-RISC 8700, MIPS 14000 (or even Itanium 2) when I can buy a rack of x86 systems?

Sun's current ventures, Mad Hatter for one, are risky, too. But, realistically, even if they can prove their technology is good enough and cheaper than what Windows offers, they're still competing in a fierce low-margin market with Linux distro makers and, more importantly, with the established base of old Windows PC's which are "good enough".

By not recognizing and planning well for this trend 3-5 years ago, Sun's management has made a mistake. Now, they don't have the time and money they need to make the kinds of changes in a large organization that need to be made.

It sounds like some of Sun's good people are leaving: I hope they can flourish and contribute in new ways in their new environments It will be interesting to see which company does pick up the pieces, though. I'm betting it will be either IBM or Dell.

ahh sun (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122578)

stick it too sun where it doesn't shine!!! They only want you to make beleive their cow brown!

Eric Raymond too (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122584)

Newsforge [newsforge.com]

Re:Eric Raymond too (2, Flamebait)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122738)

ESR is a jackass.

Sun have some interesting technology in Java and the StarOffice additions to OpenOffice.org. They have made real efforts to interact with the Free Software community by releasing OpenOffice under the GPL/LGPL. We should be encouraging to release more Free Software, not telling them they're dead (when they're not).

Ciaran O'Riordan

Analyst's Perception is usually distored (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122588)

I've been an avid investor and it is my experience that the financial firms such as MerrylLynch, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and others have their own biased stance. They are either flogging a company so that a competitor will rise in value or just are simply wrong.

I've worked for Sun in the late 70s and again in the mid-80s as a contractor. It is a company full of innovation and every step they take is carefully measured. The analyst obviously feels that Sun has acted haphazardly, but so has any other corporation. Even though Sun may have lost their chief scientist, Bruce Perens, recently, they are still a force to reckoned with. Their products Solaris, Java and Checkpoint are still their leaders in their respective fields and they also support the Open Source developer community.

Which is nice.

Chief scientists (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122614)

Bill Joy. Not Bruce Perens.

Re:Chief scientists (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122620)

Thank you, I sit corrected.

Re:Analyst's Perception is usually distored (-1, Redundant)

passthecrackpipe (598773) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122618)

Bruce Perens? Chief Scientist? at Sun? You must be confused with one of the Founders - Bill Joy....

Re:Analyst's Perception is usually distored (3, Funny)

phfpht (654492) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122627)

I've worked for Sun in the late 70s and again in the mid-80s as a contractor


Good trick, that, to work for a company in the 70's that was founded in 1982. (with only 4 employees too) Sun Getting Started [sun.com]

Wheeeee.........Ah, I see that was an AC.

Re:Analyst's Perception is usually distored (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122635)

He was obviously refering to its previous incarnation [wuarchive.edu] .

Re:Analyst's Perception is usually distored (3, Funny)

MisterFancypants (615129) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122628)

Even though Sun may have lost their chief scientist, Bruce Perens, recently, they are still a force to reckoned with

Bruce Perens, eh? I heard he was dead at 54? Truly an American Icon.

Re:Analyst's Perception is usually distored (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122631)

Being a finance firm and all, anything said about a big company like Sun by MerrylLynch can and should be suspect. They'll deride or support a company based soley on what's good for their portfolio.
Maybe they've sold a lot of Sun stock short, or maybe they think Sun's doing fine but want some cheap stock. They do this sort of thing all the time.

Re:Analyst's Perception is usually distored (2, Funny)

Temkin (112574) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122633)

I've worked for Sun in the late 70s and again in the mid-80s as a contractor.



Interesting... Since they didn't exist until 1983.



Even though Sun may have lost their chief scientist, Bruce Perens



You mean Bill Joy?

MOD PARENT DOWN (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122667)

83? You're wrong as well: it was 1982 [sun.com] . Please get your facts straight before you post.

Thank you.

MOD PARENT DOWN Re:Analyst's Perception is (1)

spoonyfork (23307) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122653)

This post is factually wrong on several accounts (Sun's creation, Bill Joy). Please mod it down.

Re:Analyst's Perception is usually distored (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122658)

Even though Sun may have lost their chief scientist, Bruce Perens, recently, they are still a force to reckoned with.

Damn, and your comment was almost making sense.

There goes yer credibility.

Long live Linux!

Re:Analyst's Perception is usually distored (2, Insightful)

SageMadHatter (546701) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122668)

I've worked for Sun in the late 70s and again in the mid-80s

You do realize that was nearly two decades ago? That's like a century in computer years.

Mad Hatter

Re:Analyst's Perception is usually distored (1)

dd (15470) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122672)

Geez, time to add a new item to the faq for /. moderators:

"If a posting comes from an AC, and if the posting seems interesting, BUT YOU, as a moderator, don't know anything about the subject, then don't moderate up an AC. Just ignore them if you aren't sure."

Mod parent down... this is a troll (2, Informative)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122680)

Who are these moderators? This one is WAY too obvious...

Sun was founded in 1982... see Sun's website [sun.com]

Bruce Perens worked for HP... see article here [slashdot.org]

The Checkpoint firewall is not a Sun product... see Checkpoint Software Technologies [checkpoint.com]

CONGRATULATIONS! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122686)

You win the "Mr Obvious" prize! Thank you all for playing.

Re:Analyst's Perception is usually distored (1)

vinniedkator (659693) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122688)

I would hope PriceWaterhouseCoopers, as the largest public accounting firm auditing many SEC registrants, wouldn't have their own biased stance. How did this rubish get above the radar?

Re:Analyst's Perception is usually distored (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122709)

Worked for sun in the late 70's? Funny I thought they were formed in 82?

Anway, Solaris and Unix in general is dying thanks to Linux and Windows2k.

THe perception I think is accurate in many ways. Sun should of got into newer markets. Sun just happens to be failing the least while HP and IBM make money from other products to make up the losses.

Your right about innovative people but that does not matter. Sun ignores all of R&D with no commitment on products or they can not come up with cost effective solutions. Java came to be because their interactive TV boxes were too expensive and non practical.

They wanted the network computer in the nineties and should of developed a cheap Tivo/webTV like system that would be cost effective.

Instead conservative management likes to only focus on what they are known for which is expensive mainframes and servers. Now that market is shrinking and they only have Java left which now is under competition from .net, php, perl, etc.

If the competitors solutions are free then the value of your product goes down with it. This is why Bill Gates loved throwing IE everywhere when Netscape was a company. The trick was to make netscape's value less then cost to produce! After that then they would go under. MS was right.

there is value here, Sun does have problems (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122723)

Mainly in that their recently announce hardware and software solutions don't exist in the physical form.

So they are selling what? A roadmap to the future? Software and hardware vaporware?

A better strategy for profits... (3, Funny)

jkrise (535370) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122589)

Would be to ape SCO in the hardware business. Claim that all hardware innovation after 1980 belongs to Sun. Doesn't matter if it's silly, as long as they can take Intel to court and threaten AMD :^).

If all else fails, they could get Windows to run on their servers, can't they?

-

Re:A better strategy for profits... (1)

warpSpeed (67927) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122789)

If all else fails, they could get Windows to run on their servers, can't they?

I'm sure this is tounge-in-cheek but...

Look where it got DEC... Windows ran great on Alphas. I would not consider getting into bed with MicroSoft a safe move. It is like asking a boa constrictor for a hand getting out of quick sand, he will pull you out just to crush you.

SUN is doomed unless McNealy steps aside.

Sun will be fine (5, Insightful)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122592)

Sun will be fine. After the exit of the two companies mentioned in the story, they are the 64 bit and high end market provider now.

Seriously. If you want to spend $5000, $8000, or even $75,000 on a computer, you can go to Dell. But, if you're looking to drop $1.3 million on a computer [sun.com] , you go to Sun.

For anyone that has used sun hardware, we know. It really can't be beat. The stuff is fast, scalable, and bulletproof. Sun OS is about as stable as they come.

~Will //Netmar uses sun machines. www.netmar.com

Re:Sun will be fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122679)

Ok, McNealy.

I'm going with IBM, or any of the other high end vendors out there.

(HP, Compaq, NEC, etc). Look at the top500 list.

Linux is the future. Linux is key. Long live open source.

Re:Sun will be fine (4, Insightful)

passthecrackpipe (598773) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122701)

Sorry - have you been smoking some of my crack? Sun hardware, especially the high-end stuff can *easily* be beat. Depending on the type of work you want you to do, you have basically two choices:
  1. For calculations that do not have inter-calculation dependencies, you can spend your millions on a blade-based infrastrucuture, running your choice of x32, x64, or Power based blades, all depending on the type of work you want to do. you will run Linux on these blades, and can mix and match architectures as your requirements dictate. This solution will give you greater flexibility, significantly higher price performance (that only increases as you deploy more) and will allow you to design the infrastrucutre to your applications' needs, rather then designing your application to your infrastrucuture.
  2. Alternatively, if you have higher NUMA or shared memory requirements, you can deploy a big-ass pc [sgi.com] running Linux, also delivering you a higher price-performance then you can expect with Sun.
At the end of the day, the high-end Sun stuff, like the 15K etc, are expensive, fickle and frankly, not very fast. Check top500.org if you really want to know. In the past year, we have placed quite a few bids for large systems on a linux/blade architecture, and we win over Sun *every* *single* *time* - and that is based on the simple question: "how much processors power and real results will I get for my dollar?". Pharma, big finance houses - they are all running away from Sun as fast as they can.....

Re:Sun will be fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122732)

For anyone that has used sun hardware, we know. It really can't be beat. The stuff is fast, scalable, and bulletproof.

Ebay is on line one. They say they have some worthless Sun CPU's.

I've only seen one CPU flake out of it's own accord (wasn't mistreated, just die). Why, yes, it was an UltraSPARC.

Re:Sun will be fine (1, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122744)

Who needs these machines anymore? Only very large databases for large wharehouses. Moderate servers with 4 cpu's can do the work of the beast just a decade ago.

Also newer 8-16 cpu Itanium and Xeon systems are faster because their cpu's have 400% the processing speeds of the latest SparcIII's.

Combine that and also the obsession to standardize on one platform( hmm which platform is most prevailant on desktops to integrate with?) and you get the picture.

Anaylists do not care about current profits. They care about growth and sales only! If you stay the same they get no money. Sun is quite in trouble but I think SGI will fall first before they do.

Re:Sun will be fine (1)

infinii (27811) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122754)

Let me clue you in a bit here.

No one *wants* to drop 1.3M on a computer. They may have in the past because there wasn't any choice. Nowadays, there are cheaper alternatives that provide more processing power.

Re:Sun will be fine (5, Interesting)

cshotton (46965) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122779)

Sun will be fine. After the exit of the two companies mentioned in the story, they are the 64 bit and high end market provider now.

For now. At "for now" is a very, very short time. Sun simply doesn't have the technology resources and financial wherewithal to make SPARC a mainstream, widely supported processor that is able to stay ahead of a rapidly accelerating market. IBM, AMD, and Intel are all shipping 64 bit chip sets and most of the hardware configurations being built around them will far outpace a comparably priced Sun box without busting a sweat.

Sun continues to rest on its laurels as the "premiere" platform for academic and scientific applications. Unfortunately, the market has long since overcome that fallacy and Sun will never recapture the high end workstation market for the simple reason that it no longer exists. Even moderately priced desktop boxes outperform Sun's best engineering workstations from just a year or two ago. So other than the ego boost ascribed to an academician with a Sun box on his desk, it's hard to argue there is any value in selecting that workstation option at this point. Sure, there are legacy software issues with stuff written to proprietary Sun graphics or clustering APIs, but that stuff all has non-proprietary solutions now that make porting quite easy.

Sun's only other market, high performance Internet servers, evaporated with the DotCom bubble. They're stuck holding a fist full of defaulted loans, cancelled leases, and warehouses of repossessed server boxes in the wake of that carnage. Nobody's interested in going that route again.

Seriously. If you want to spend $5000, $8000, or even $75,000 on a computer, you can go to Dell. But, if you're looking to drop $1.3 million on a computer, you go to Sun.

Now there's a brilliant reason to purchase a computer -- that it costs $1.3 million. Odds are likely 100% that you can purchase a superior system from a non-Sun manufacturer for an order of magnitude less now. You basically make Merrill's case for why Sun will be dead in 2 years. The pool of idiots willing to plunk down $1M for a box to serve web pages dried up 2 years ago. Look at how people do it now (i.e., Google, Yahoo, etc.) -- racks and racks of cheap, redundant commodity servers. Where's Sun's answer to that?

Bye, Sun!

Re:Sun will be fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122849)

That can't be beat anthem only still applies to the 10k machines. sunblades and ultrasparc ii & iii's aren't as robust as the famed sun hardware of old like sparcstation 20's. Their mid to low end stuff falls over just as much if not more(more at the time I was admining the stuff; compared to x86 boxes running linux).

3 early post noise (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122593)

I for one love the noise accompaning these early posts!

In related news (4, Funny)

Compact Dick (518888) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122597)

Steven Milunovich, an analyst for Merrill Lynch, was dismissed from his post today. The official line from ML is that the "values and opinions of the report are not in line" with the company's.

More predictions for Sun to ponder (5, Informative)

Anomander (672837) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122610)

The Inquirer [theinquirer.net] also has an article [theinquirer.net] predicting the doom Sun. It references an article by Eric S. Raymond at Newsforge found here. [newsforge.com]

Re:More predictions for Sun to ponder (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122737)

It's only a matter of time before they're right. I predict the end of Microsoft. May not happen in my lifetime or my kid's lifetime, but hey... someday I'll be able to say "I told you so!". Waitaminute...

For Gods sake, leave Sun alone (3, Insightful)

cwernli (18353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122612)

Please please please leave Sun alone - after all, _they_ are running the business, therefore it's their responsability, no matter if success or failure happens.

The concerted "efforts" to "rescue" Sun, to bring it to the path of righteousness look very dubious to say the least: on one hand everybody and his sister seem to enjoy firing on this particular ambulance, on the other hand nobody seems to want to miss the feeding frenzy over some presumable defunct company. The last example was given by ESR: http://newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=03/10/02/12402 43 [newsforge.com] .

Give the poor people a break!

Self-fillfulling profit-sees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122693)

It is also dangerous & not compleatly fair. By 'making' these predictions, they are helping them to come through. The dot-bomb saga transpired *because* of analysts making high-in-the sky predictions of what companies were going to be able to sell. Every time you say "Sun is dead", you help discourage people from taking out support contracts with Sun, thereby helping worsen Sun's position, to the benefit of Microsoft.

Re:For Gods sake, leave Sun alone (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122834)

ITs a bitch being a public company. ... leave Sun alone - after all, _they_ are running the business, therefore it's their responsability, no matter if success or failure happens

Wrong. As a public company it is their and Scott McNealy's responsibilty to be profitable and sucessfull at any cost!

These fiancial companies pump billions and pay McNeal for thier return. Also they represent millions of investors who put their hard earned money into it. They have a right to demand this.

If they do not like it they should of remained private or some non profit organization. That is life and greed is the rule.

Scott should leave or drastically improve Sun. Remember investment houses actually own the company and not him. He just works for them.

Merryl Lynch should take its own advise (5, Insightful)

joboosc (710812) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122630)

I've been an avid investor and it is my experience that the financial firms such as MerrylLynch, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and others have their own biased stance. They are either flogging a company so that a competitor will rise in value or just are simply wrong. Furthermore, I think you're describing Merryl Lynch's business model here. Marketing is how financial industry make money, hell they can sell you paper for your dollars, they gotta be doing a great job of marketing. Who's Wall Street to talk about substance? The whole financial industry is operating on hot air. Oh wait, hot air actually has some value.

I don't understand why people trust analysts (5, Insightful)

lingqi (577227) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122639)

I mean... let' run through some arguments here:

1) if they are so good at analyzing the market and which company will do good / do bad, why arn't they sitting around with billions, but instead slaves away at financial institutions?

2) how many analysts spoke out at the beginning of the dot com bubble insightfully? (i.e. "this won't last?") IIRC everyone, yes including the analysts, were basically like "hey everybody what a wonderful opportunity! buy buy buy!"

3) AFAIK analyst predictions on stock / company performance has never been any more accurate than random guesses or predictions from a layman (within error tolerance) - I believe the reference was fool.com;

so, can anybody GIVE me a reason why market analysts should be trusted for their opinions? Besides that they went through a couple years of economy schoool (which, according to my acquaintance studying economy, is mostly like astrology)?

Re:I don't understand why people trust analysts (0)

joboosc (710812) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122666)

Stock market analysts are like telemarketers with a bigger budget. They're designed to fleece you out of your wallets. Marketing is at stake when you get invitations to expensive restaurants for dinner just to listen to some financial analyst flap about how to invest your 401k money.

Re:I don't understand why people trust analysts (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122730)

how many analysts spoke out at the beginning of the dot com bubble insightfully? (i.e. "this won't last?") IIRC everyone, yes including the analysts, were basically like "hey everybody what a wonderful opportunity! buy buy buy!"

Nothing wrong with that; the stock was sky rocketing so "buy, buy, buy" *was* good advice. The truly shrewd and insightful financial analysts were the ones that said "sell, sell, sell" before the bubble popped. Thinking back though, the only person I can recall who commented on that inevitability in time to do anything about it was Bill Gates.

The point about it being guesswork stands though, it might be informed, but it's still a guess.

Re:I don't understand why people trust analysts (2, Insightful)

davecb (6526) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122823)

hey, they recommended Enron, didn't they?

--dave

competative disadvantage and PR flim-flamming (3, Insightful)

esarjeant (100503) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122663)

Sun is in dire straits, based on their latest PR campaign ("The Sun Java System") they have abandoned any semblance of technology in their technology. In a nutshell, "The Sun Java System is a radical new approach for synchronizing IT investments with business priorities by decreasing IT costs." How does this have anything to do with IT? What kind of _product_ is this?

Meanwhile, they seem to be able to demonstrate a positive cashflow even with a tough economic climate. This is a good thing, but they continue to have "one-time" expense every other quarter.

Merrill is wrong when it comes to R&D, this is clearly the only thing that can save Sun now. You don't win in the technology game by promising things like the Sun Java System; you win by demonstrating technology that cannot be obtained elsewhere.

Open Office / Star Office (3, Interesting)

Interruach (680347) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122665)

The only product of Sun's I know about and they didn't mention it once. If microsoft alledgedly make all their money from MS Office, couldn't Star Office be a huge revenue stream for Sun if it competes favorably for price?

Taken in context... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122670)

the junkyard of formerly-great technology companies like DEC
It really depends on how you define "great". Digital always garnered a great deal of respect. I am still blown away by how well-made what products of theirs I have seen. Few will make the same lamentations about Sun the company, & its products.

Re:Taken in context... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122796)

That very reason "well made" is what led to DEC's demise. They thought computers should be built to last 20 years and priced them accordingly.

eyecon0meter registers/reports stock markup FraUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122673)

the sun also sets? you can bet your .asp that those phonIE ?pr? ?firm? analcysts from the pacific crest annex of wall street of deceit are completely buyassed buy now.

scott et AL, is no more phonIE than fuddles, merrill, & the (monIE) hole georgewellian fuddite corepirate nazi payper liesense stock markup execrable. scott just doesn't suck up as well. robbIE, it would seem, fears the sun. 'course they're not paying him big bucks (funnIE monIE) to tout the kingdumb's whoreabully infactdead softwar gangster hostage scam BugWear(tm).

don't even bother robbIE, we'll tell 'em.

Lynch (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122674)

Now let David Lynch analyze Sun. That should be interesting.

Sun is just following SGI down the tubes (5, Insightful)

PenguinOpus (556138) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122682)

Both SGI and Sun were killed (past tense) by commodity hardware that was "good enough" to take away their sales even before they stopped innovating. In SGI's case, they panicked believing Itanium would come out in 1997 and kill them. They tried to switch to commodity hardware but couldn't stomach it and the dithering ate away at them. Itanium still sucks to this day (but MIPS could never break 1Ghz...).

Sun fell down on the workstation side a long time ago, but their servers were hot thru the .com boom of 2000. Now they're getting killed by Dells at the low end and grids at the high end. They have a huge number of employees because the company is feeding off historical service contracts (the same thing that's keeping SGI on life support). Sun needs to shrink, simplify, and focus or they'll be dead in 10 years also.

But don't forget... (2, Informative)

nonmaskable (452595) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122683)

...that most Merill Lynch analysts were yelling "buy! buy!" in 2000.

That said, I think Sun is already dead. Two billion in cash is all that is keeping the corpse from rotting.

I can forsee (2, Insightful)

SeXy_Red (550409) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122684)

Sun becoming a big player in the linux world, after all, solaris is one of the most stable version of unix out there. It wouldnt surprise me in the least if we see a headline in 5 years stating that SUN microsystems has merged with a large linux company (redhat perhaps?)

Translation: short Sun (2, Flamebait)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122685)

tr = new Translation(from = Marketspeak, to = English)

tr < OpenLetterToSun
I have shorted the shit out of Sun stock, and now I want it to go down like a Clinton Intern. I will now rip you a new one in an "open" letter targeted not at Sun but rather at the sheeple who day trade.

Once your stock price bombs out, I will make a killing, then buy in at the lower price. After that, expect another "open" letter praising Sun to the heavens, in order to pump the stock back up.

God, I love being a market manipulator^Wanalyst.
<EOF>

delete tr;

Open plea to Sun! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122687)

Release Java to the community please! Nobody can afford the J2EE licensing costs!

Do it before you get bought out.

They'll never do it, after all .. it'll reduce they can be bought at.

analcyst report on va lairIE/robbIE's phonIE monIE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122705)

scams.
va lairIE/robbIE//. pretends to ignore the stock markup, UNLESS there's something to 'report' that fuels the SourceForgerIE's prospects?

fauxking phonIE ?pr? ?firm? scriptdead storIEs. reminds US of the refudlicking partIE. the ONLYstuff that matters about /. anymore, is knowing how much payper liesense ?pr? ?firm? FUDge is packed into everIE storIE. yuk.

last gaspers they are. lookout bullow.

consult with/trust in yOUR creator. get ready to see the light.

'Sun is Dying' is the new 'Apple is Dying' (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122715)

I think the comment subject says it all.

Merrill Lynch == crap (3, Interesting)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122718)

Let's not forget Merrill Lynch had Enron as a buy even after employees were seen leaving the building in the 100's with boxes in their hands.

As a former quantative analyst, I can say this about the larger brokerage houses. They have an agenda. If they can generate enough hype (up or down) about a company, true or not, they wind up right, because the uneducated/ignorant masses follow their "leads" like lemmings. It's a simple business from ML's perspective. If you build it (the hype) the will come.

Hi! I just started being a spammer! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122722)

I decided to become a spammer. After reading the libertarian polemics here on slashdot I reLized I should start spamming.

You see as a libertarian the free market is king. So if I can make a ton of cash by spamming no one can tell me not to. If you don't like it go find a spam filter.

I used to believe all those corny ideals of the early internet of cooperation but that old commie stuff is so 80s! Fuck cooperating I got to get paid! It's the libertarian way!

Also I'm thinking of starting a waste management company and just dump all the trash in the river. After all if I want to destroy the environment for a quick buck you can't stop me, it would go against your libertarian ideal!

Now all we have to do is get rid of the minimum wage and and any unnatural trade barriers. I hire only indians at my consulting firm. Why? Because they are the cheapest! You can't sue me for discrimination because anti-racism laws are a state solution! HAHA!

Being a libertarian rocks! ME ME ME ME ! YA! Greedy Anti-Social Nerds for Libertarianism! Woohoo!

So in summary... (1)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122724)


Bloke who has only ever worked at a bank, says that a company who have driven technology innovation for 20 years is buggered because the world has changed....

Oi Sherlock... who changed it ? I'm sorry but these analysts get on my nerves sometimes. These are the sorts of people bumping SCO, while dumping Sun who only have a couple of billion in the bank, are cash positive each quarter and have FINALLY realised software is important.

Sun are rubbish at marketing themselves, but most of what this analyst says is either "yeah yeah" or just plain bunk.

Has the analysts _run_ a company ? _Worked_ in IT ?

Fire McNeally... are you the chap who recommended Apple should fire Jobs all those years ago ?

sun + novell + apple (2, Interesting)

mydigitalself (472203) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122734)

now wouldn't that be a good MS killer uber merger?

- sun for their server kit
- novell for their networking
- apple for desktops
- os would be jointly developed using the fantastic ximian guys, the OSX team and the JAVA boys.

Steve? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122735)

From the article:
" "We have an open invite for Steve to come to talk with us" about the company's focus, Hakkert added."

My remark: bring in the other Steves!

Anyone Remember DEC (5, Informative)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122740)

My alma matta was one of the largest Dec Sites in the country in the early 80's. All the universities infrastructure systems DEC systems and their was a mandate that all incoming students by DEC PC-350's. The net effect was there was no way to avoid the product line.

Funny thing was while some of the equipment (VAX-xxxx, PDP-11 series) were excellent, most of it was an incredible pain. The PC-350 were based on the PDP-11 architecture but wouldn't run any of the common PDP-11 operating systems. Whats more the 350's couldn't even format their own floppies. The mainframes (DEC-10,DEC-20) while solid systems suffered from unique features, 36 bit word size was my favorite.

Anyway, at one point Ken Olsen, the then CEO of DEC came to give a speach/pep talk about the great advances we were making and how wonderfull DEC would be in the future. In his q/a session he had 3000 angry engineers asking him how his company could foist off pieces of crap like the 350. His response was that we lacked an understanding of how his business worked.

DEC is but one. Technology companies must understand that they are about serving customer needs, not their own arrogance. I can go down the list of for days citing companies that either felt they were successfull so nothing could happen, or they were unique and nothing would happen, or they were just plain arrogant.

Scott Mcnealy has always been on the plain arrogant side. Suns products have always been priced very high, and they have never been willing to make the effort to penetrate mass markets. The funny thing is I really love their equipment, the same way I really love apples. The problem is I can't bring myself to buy it or recommend it in most circumstances.

DEC, Data General, Compaq, Unisys, etc. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122741)

Sun is doomed. You can run a "mission
critial" app off of a Dell box running Linux.
Not to mention that the labor to do it is
now a cheap international commodity.

Java? Mixed story here. Nobody runs Java
as a front end app. Too slow. Too big.
It seems a bit slow on the back end.
But, all the college kids know it and its
got a great library.

o ... o (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122747)

One mistake was adopting GNOME. They now pay for it.

It's official (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122758)

The word is in: *Java* is dying.

Re:It's official (1)

Decaff (42676) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122807)

The most widely used language in the IT world is dying? Strange definition of the word 'dying'

You better duck. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122812)

Here come the mods.

Don't trust share prices or firms as an oracle. (3, Interesting)

skandalfo (623756) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122764)

The most important thing to take into account is that the price of a company's shares is not really altered by reality, but by belief.

And it's good to look at the fact that it only reflects the beliefs of people who are geed-aware enough to trade shares. Most of these people are usually uninformed enough about reality as to trust the firm-provided analysts when they say things like that SCO's IP-blackmail business plan will be a complete boom.

See SCO's trades rising? That has nothing to do with reality, as anyone who recognize the nonsense in the phrase "I own UNIX" can tell.

Several financial firms seem to have already spoken about the "critical" and "wrong" situation of Sun Microsystems and exactly which percentage of layoffs they shall apply. Maybe they're right, but, as usual with analysts and their habit to work on none or little real information, I'd say they guess, as they do most of the time.

That is, if they're not actually trying to trigger some share-price-waves for their own benefit.

Personality leaks in the company may be a better indicator to use, and the fact that their upper layers are trying to ignore the Free Software/Open Source phenomenon (just like Microsoft did before; they no longer do; they now have a "Linux Chief" for a "Linux Strategy" consisting on destroying Linux) shows they have the same short sight that Microsoft did. However Microsoft has a lot of money from their dominant business, that buys them some time to try to react, whereas Sun may have not so much time left.

Will they want to see the lion running on them for a meal? I hope they'll do. But pretending to see the future would be behaving like all those financial analysts.

But if they go down in the end, I only hope Java gets open-sourced, rather than it getting bought by Microsoft in order to shut down the technology.

Merrill Lynch owns $1.1Bn Microsoft shares (5, Interesting)

ChrisRijk (1818) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122766)

The "analyst" here hasn't even talked to Sun execs for some time, is always negative on Sun, wants Sun to drop all their products that compete with Microsoft (pretty much) and force all their existing customers through a complete product and architecture change (by dumping SPARC), which would have them up in arms.

see here [theregister.co.uk] for some detail of "the loon" as The Register call him.

Steve Milunovich, advice for Sun (5, Interesting)

LinuxParanoid (64467) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122771)

I used to read Steve Milunovich's research fairly regularly.

One of the advantages of reading Steve was that he did his own surveys of Fortune 100 (500?) CIOs, asking about budgets (ie future system vendor revenues) and various topics of the day (ERP deployments, etc). So I found his comments that Sun should make contrarian bets but "do so in ways palatable to conservative CIOs" interesting. Steve may have some unique insight into that.

What's a little odd to me about Steve's advice is the contradictions in it. At least based on the admittedly summary article linked here. On the one hand, he seems to advocate a "batten-down-the-hatches"-type strategy: cut R&D, dump SPARC (eventually), don't make waves, be more Linux friendly. And on the other hand he seems to say "make contrarian bets". It may be that Sun is just doomed due to volume economics (although in fairness, they have always been *way* more focused on that than every other Unix vendor in my past discussions with management I met in my past life), but the "batten-down-the-hatches" strategy seems more likely, not less likely to lead them down the "DEC, Data General, Compaq" path. Sure Sun needs to be shrewd and somewhat conservative in cutting excess spending. Maybe that *is* what they need to do to stabilize their stock a bit. But that isn't how they're going to avoid the 'computing graveyard'.

Although if you are doomed to the computing graveyard (something I thought was true of Sun in 1995 but Sun did stunningly well the following five years), it is true that the most prudent thing to do is spend your remaining strength as conservatively as possible. I don't have any easy answers myself for Sun. I can't fault Milunovich for trying, but the advice doesn't look particularly helpful to me.

--LP

Sun in dying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122783)

Sun is dying. You don't have to be a Merril Lynch Advisor [merrilllynch.com] to predict the future: Sun's future looks bleak. After having to take legal action against Microsoft in order to get their Java virtual machine into Windows, it becomes perfectly obvious that Sun's resources have dried up and its days are numbered. A survey of Linux users shows Solaris comes up dead last [slashdot.org] among the systems they use, right behind MSDOS, Slackware, and Microsoft Bob. Predictions of non-profitability and Sun's imminent demise flow like red ink that's been extracted from 10 million red ball point pens, collected into a big bucket, and then quickly poured out for effect.

Sun is the weakest link. Bye now.

Sounds familiar (1)

WebMasterJoe (253077) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122785)

Sun's mistakes are well documented, but the biggest one is believing that what made them successful in the past would make them successful in the future.
This sounds an awful lot like the music business. However, I don't think that Sun is in that position. There are some expensive systems out there that rely on Solaris boxes running the show, and most of the time those machines seem quite capable of doing the job well. Sure, it may be expensive, but when a company is shelling out $50K for a new system, people like to see the big purple box come with it.

This is extrodinary. (5, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122790)

How often has anyone seen an investment company tell a technology company exactly how to run it's business in an "open letter"? I'm shocked to see such stupid advise, but now some of Sun's recent moves become clear. Wall Street must have been putting pressure on Sun for a long time and has now done it's utmost to halt Linux. Joyce pleads:

Solaris is critical to why users like Sun. Being late to Linux is unforgivable both because Linux is a kissing cousin to Unix and because Linux is a disruptive threat to Microsoft.

Sun needs to convince users that Linux is a subset of Solaris and push two messages: (1) if you're doing Linux, go to the Unix expert, and (2) use Linux on the edge, but when you need mission-critical capability it's time to graduate to Solaris.

That's incredible. Since when should a technology company be worried about disrupting a competitor? Nuts. Sun should make all the money it can and if it does so by taking share from a competitor's inferior offerings, that's great. Merrill Lynch is attempting to halt technological progress in order to protect it's worthless Microsoft holdings. This is ass backward, they should be looking out for their investors by urging them to sell Microsoft.

what are ML positions? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122797)

are they short or long on Sun stock?

Well... (1)

jakoz (696484) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122813)

I should start making recommendations to major companies.

Maybe then I'd finally get people pretending with me.

Analysts don't work for you (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122837)

I work in the financial services industry. Bear in mind that analysts are paid by banks, not by you. There's no reason for him to give you the 'benefit' of his wisdom whatsoever. Open-market advice is given for three reasons:
  1. To benefit the analyst (bonuses etc.)
  2. To benefit the bank or banking clients (see point 1)
  3. Publicity
The good of the standard investor or the company being invested in doesn't even come into it. The fact he's made this an open letter means he needs Sun's stock to move for one reason or another.

And I ... (1)

zBoD (86938) | more than 10 years ago | (#7122843)

> A prominent technology analyst for Merrill Lynch is urging Sun Microsystems (Quote, Chart) to slash as much as 15 percent of its workforce
[...]


And I am urging SCO (Quote, Chart) to slash as much as 100 percent of its workforce.

Petition to Spin Java from Sun! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122847)

Do you care about the future of Java? Are you interested in seeing Java continue to be the premier platform for computing in the next several decades?

Then please take the time to sign this new Spin Java petition, which asks Sun Microsytems and Scott McNealy to spin off Java into a separate sister company.

Spin Java Petition [petitiononline.com]

For more info click here [freeroller.net] . Thank you.

It's so true (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7122851)

There's sizable population of gay Mac fans. There are already matching services for straights to meet and iChat with each other; MacBuds is the first such place for gay men. With a free account, you can post about yourself, include pictures, iChat other dudes with one click, and add them to your hotlist. Give it a try and send in your feedback." Signup was a breeze and the site has a very clean, simple interface. Nice.
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