Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

McNealy Steps Down as Sun Microsystems CEO

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the passing-the-torch dept.

325

SlashdotOgre writes "Mercury News reports that Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, will be stepping down from his role as CEO. McNealy will continue as chairman, and fellow co-founder Jonathan Schwartz will now take the helm."

cancel ×

325 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Guess this leaves him (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193404)

with more time to play amateur hockey!

Yay (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193409)

One less randroid as CEO of a major corporation.

Re:Yay (1)

paulthomas (685756) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193509)

Scott McNealy is hardly a "randroid" considering his love of government contracts. From the WSJ article on the issue: "Mr. McNealy said he would remain active with the company, calling on customers such as the federal government"

Fellow co-founder (4, Informative)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193411)

Schwartz is not a co-founder of Sun - He joined the company in 1996!

http://www.sun.com/aboutsun/media/ceo/mgt_schwartz .html [sun.com]

Re:Fellow co-founder (-1, Offtopic)

ectospasm (5186) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193436)

RTFAing the article would have told us that, too...

Re:Fellow co-founder (0, Offtopic)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193459)

Still we used to at least be able to hope that the submitter would read the article before writing the summary.

If you are the least bit familiar with the company, then it's clear that schwartz is simply too young. He was probably 15 or 16 when Sun was founded.

Re:Fellow co-founder (5, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193558)

If you want to get technical, neither is McNealy. He was one of the first people recruited by Khosla and Bechtolsheim, but he had nothing to do with the initial creation of the company.

Schwartz actually did found a company: Lighthouse Design [wikipedia.org] , a NextStep application developer that Sun bought out in 1996, and turned into the core of their Java Applications Group, which was supposed to develop applications for those Java-based network computers that were going to put Microsoft out of business.

What's always bugged me is that McNealy spent a ton of money to acquire LD and the other companies that got folded into JAG — all of which was wasted, because it soon became obvious that nobody was going to buy network computers, and there was no reason to keep JAG going. JAG wasn't the first, and it wasn't the last ill-conceived attempt by Sun to win the desktop war with Microsoft, and McNealy has never been called to account for all the money he wasted on that war — a war that already a conspicuous victory for Microsoft long before Sun even got involved.

Instead, McNealy is being forced out for failing to sell high-end computers at a time when nobody's buying them. Wall Street is stupid.

Re:Fellow co-founder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193779)

Founders aren't necessarily present at creation. Often the first "real" CEO is awarded that status along with a commensurate amount of stock.

Re:Fellow co-founder (2, Interesting)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193804)

"JAG wasn't the first, and it wasn't the last ill-conceived attempt by Sun to win the desktop war with Microsoft, and McNealy has never been called to account for all the money he wasted on that war -- a war that already a conspicuous victory for Microsoft long before Sun even got involved."

You've got that right. I never understood how Sun was going to make any money from the MS war (other than the antitrust settlement).

Consider Java. Has Sun recovered all the money spent on it? By its very nature it couldn't directly help Sun sell workstations since it was intended to be platform-independent. The only thing that makes sense to me is the idea that they hoped it would be so ubiquitous that they could make millions selling proprietary Java acceleration hardware (They did start development of such hardware).

Then there's McNealy's weird approach to competing. At one point he publicly derided the concept of word processors and Powerpoint type applications. He told the press that he forbid his employees from using them and gave them each a white board and markers. It's as if he had wanted to go into the facial tissue business by telling the press that he wasn't going to allow his employees to use Kleenex and gave them all handkerchiefs.

Then a few years later he buys Open Office and suddenly office applications are no longer a waste of time.

how to make money (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193832)

Scott strategy was simple. Lots and lots of companies in the mid 90's were finding that they really didn't like the PC model (users install there own software) and were moving back towards a managed model with NT. But fundamentally if you are going to toss the primary advantage of the PC OS (user installed software) why not just go to dumb X terms and get all the advantages of a fully managed solution?

You got the word processor quote wrong (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193950)

In the late 90's Scott was quoted that MS Word was Nintendo for adults, and what he meant by that was that MS was putting new bullshit features into word every 18 to 24 months so that they could sell new versions to existing customers, whose employees were just using the new features to do goofy shit with their documents.

Re:Fellow co-founder (1)

mpcooke3 (306161) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193877)

The reality is that you can get away with alot whilst you can cover your losses.

Re:Fellow co-founder (1)

X (1235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194016)

The cost of aquiring Lighthouse was worse than that. If you'll recall Schwartz was put in charge of their startup investing. Not only did he bomb out big time on those investments, but he also invested under his own name and lost such a huge bundle he was going to be forced to declare bankrupcy.... until Sun bailed out his debts (I forget how much, but it was several million). For his fantastic investment insight.... he was promoted.

As the "fellow co-founder" line points out, this guy is an excellent self-promoter. Hopefully for Sun, he'll be just as effective promoting the company.

Such important news (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193412)

CmdrTaco should have posted it!

That was fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193414)

Too bad he said just recently that he was "still chugging" and not planning to resign. Kind of makes him loose some credibility.

Re:That was fast (4, Informative)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193483)

Too bad he said just recently that he was "still chugging" and not planning to resign. Kind of makes him loose some credibility.
Not exactly: the thing which made him "loose some credibility" was a $217M quarterly loss immediately after telling investors that the Sun turnaround was going well.

He should have said "going into the well".

Re:That was fast (1)

Mistah Blue (519779) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193520)

McNealy's departure is long overdue. Finally a Board of Directors fires a non-performing CEO.

It's time to invest... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193418)

in flying bacon farms becuase now pligs can fly.

Re:It's time to invest... (1, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193433)

in flying bacon farms becuase now pligs can fly.

They can't seem to type too good neither, hey?

Re:It's time to invest... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194028)

No, because flying glips are becoming rather common, believe it or not.

Steam This BushCo: +1, Inspirational (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193421)


Call [huffingtonpost.com] your senator and demand the arrest, trial, conviction, and
sentencing of the world's most dangerous "leader" [whitehouse.org] .

Have a Bush_Cheney_Rice_Rumsfeld_free week,
Kilgore Trout, C.E.O.

P.S.: Defend America: Deport The White House

Ha Ha April Fools! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193429)

Wait, I'm 23 days late! Oh well no one is going to notice, this is Slashdot.

Tomorrow's News Flash: Oracle buys Sun (4, Funny)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193430)

Knowing that Scott was his only barrier to TWD (Total World Domination) apart from Bill The Gates, Larry Ellison seizes the moment to purchase the once-vaunted Stanford University Network for an undisclosed sum and a few cases of Jolt Cola.

Scott, meanwhile, is rumored to be now working as "technology consultant" for the .NET division of Microsoft as "C# evangelist."

Re:Tomorrow's News Flash: Oracle buys Sun (5, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193545)

Scott, meanwhile, is rumored to be now working as "technology consultant" for the .NET division of Microsoft as "C# evangelist."

Someone has to teach all those C# programmers the ins and outs of Java.

Hey Scott (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193437)

Good riddance and may the Schwartz be with you (ASAP).

Is this really significant? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193438)

This is just a bunch of people trading their CxO titles among each others like baseball cards.

Rumors from a few days ago were true (5, Insightful)

kbahey (102895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193440)

I am surprised the editors did not link to this rumor that McNealy is stepping down from a few days ago on Slashdot [slashdot.org] .

Funny McNealy dismissed this as a 22 year old rumor only a few days ago.

Re:Rumors from a few days ago were true (4, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193478)

Funny McNealy dismissed this as a 22 year old rumor only a few days ago.

Well it was a 22 year old rumor a few days ago...

Re:Rumors from a few days ago were true (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193609)

I am surprised the editors did not link to this rumor that McNealy is stepping down from a few days ago on Slashdot.

Funny McNealy dismissed this as a 22 year old rumor only a few days ago.


a) most rumors are true, they sometimes take more than a lifetime to be confirmed or believed

b) rumor has it that slashdot editors don't know what is posted on slashdot hence the frequent inability for there to be unique or follow up articles

On topic, I don't know if a new CEO will help Sun. I guess it could not hurt them any worse than they have been for the past few years.

That's odd... (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193458)

Schwartz is a PR genius, and the way he continuously trolls the Linux journalist/zealot community for attention is masterful. But that seems like a strange fit for the CEO position.

At any rate, this should prompt the 30-something crowd here and elsewhere to reflect on just what the hell they've been doing with thir careers while this guy becomes the CEO of Sun...

Re:That's odd... (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193562)

At any rate, this should prompt the 30-something crowd here and elsewhere to reflect on just what the hell they've been doing with thir careers while this guy becomes the CEO of Sun...

In the words of the great Tom Lehrer:

"It's a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age. . .he'd been dead for three years."

KFG

Re:That's odd... (1)

retiarius (72746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193626)

another apt lehrerism is "what good are laurels if you can't rest on them?"
scooter could have declared victory with better timing a few years back.

Re:That's odd... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193771)

scooter could have declared victory with better timing a few years back.

Ah! But if timing were Scooter's forte; he could have declared victory a few years back.

KFG

Re:That's odd... (5, Insightful)

rco3 (198978) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193573)

Excellent point. Let's see, what have I been doing with the last 18 years of my life... Ooh! Ooh! I've been NOT becoming a suit! I don't have to fucking TOUCH business or management! I can sit back and do engineering and research without having to do any of the bullshit that McNealy and Schwartz have to do.

Do they make more money? Yes. Do I care? Amazingly enough, not so much. Right now I have a roof over my head, food on the table, health insurance, decent transportation, daycare for the munchkin - and approximately 50% of my income is currently in the "disposable" column - meaning unallocated and available for new cars, nicer houses, fantastic stereo systems, huge monitors, etc. Next year, when I go full time, it gets better.

So thanks for pointing out what a difference there is between my position and Schwartz's. He does stuff I don't want to do, and gets paid more than he needs for doing it. I do what I love, and get paid more than I need for doing it. Sounds like I chose the right path. That was your point, right?

Re:That's odd... (1)

Saedrael (880381) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193596)

How I wish I still had mod points. Excellent post.

Re:That's odd... (1)

rco3 (198978) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193711)

[blush]

Re:That's odd... (1)

70Bang (805280) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193758)



You forgot something else: your employment is more portable than his is. If you get tired of what you're doing or someone gets hit by a bus and starts handing down policies you don't want to swallow, you can fold up your tent and play in someone else's sandbox.

Sure, he's the one who can hand down the policies, and could throw his weight around, but I don't think everyone truly enjoys being around others while being a career prick.

You definitely (and many other techies) generally have a better life.

What do you mean, "When I go full time next year"?


Re:That's odd... (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193919)

You say "everyone" like you mean "anyone". You clearly haven't watched "Profit [imdb.com] "

Re:That's odd... (2, Insightful)

Tyr_7BE (461429) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194023)

Before you take such a smug tone, consider that the "suits" are the ones dictating what engineering and research you'll be doing. It's a matter of where you want to fit in. Do you want to be at the helm, leading the company, or do you want to back the visionary at the helm in the form of taking orders?

Re:That's odd... (2, Insightful)

Homestar Breadmaker (962113) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194027)

No, his point was trolling to drag out the insecure people who feel the need to puff up their feathers and show everyone how big they are.

Re:That's odd... (1)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193628)

At any rate, this should prompt the 30-something crowd here and elsewhere to reflect on just what the hell they've been doing with thir careers while this guy becomes the CEO of Sun...
If that isn't a troll, will you call me BadAnalogyGuy?

"At any rate, Mother Teresa's actions should prompt the 30-something crowd here and elsewhere to reflect on just what the hell they've been doing with their lifes while this woman became the Leader of Missionaries of Charity..."

Re:That's odd... (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193895)

"At any rate, Mother Teresa's actions should prompt the 30-something crowd here and elsewhere to reflect on just what the hell they've been doing with their lifes while this woman became the Leader of Missionaries of Charity..."

Oh! Oh! I know .... (pause) ... something about ... beer. Yeah. I think there was beer involved. I vaguely remember waking up one morning under a park bench wearing these weird black clothes and a funny hat and with this piece of paper with funny letters on it. And a huge hangover.

Waaay better than hanging out with lepers. Although I did know this dude who got VD.

Anyway, it was a good time. I think.

Re:That's odd... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193746)

> At any rate, this should prompt the 30-something crowd here and elsewhere to reflect on just what the hell they've been doing with thir careers while this guy becomes the CEO of Sun...

Bill Gates is less than two months younger than I am. :-(

I could solve world hunger and I'd still be wearing my name in on oval on my shirt in comparison.

Re:That's odd... (0, Troll)

jaxent (966098) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194017)

Schwartz is a dolt! He speaks out in the press before thinking what it will do to product sales. He kills any software product that makes money and puts the manpower onto free products (not always open, just free). "We may loss money on each unit, but we'll make it up with volume." He says how Sun will make it's money on service and guts the support departments. Sun has become a Me Too hardware vendor that will be killed off by IBM and Dell. Nobody buys them out because when they lock the doors, Java will be in the public domain anyway. Why pay to open source it?

Uh oh, poor Jonathan (5, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193462)

"Since joining Sun in 1996, Jonathan has been a driving force within the Company. His leadership has been instrumental in streamlining Sun's operations, building a solidly competitive product line, securing key acquisitions and major partner relationships and positioning us globally and across industries to reap the benefits of the networked marketplace," said McNealy.

That much PR bullshit barfed in one statement tells me the actual translation is:

"I leave this company in a mess. Jonathan is the one in deep doodoo now, and I'm bloody out here. Farewell sucker."

Future of Java without Sun? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193479)

How would Java evolve without Sun to "guide" it. What would Sun certifications mean without Sun there to back it up?

It seems that Sun is being hit hard because there's little money in the vertically scalable hardware as that has been replaced with better solutions for horizontal scalability.

If Sun does go out of business, Java may become fragmented and start losing the solid base it has around it.

The decision to go with Sun at quite a number of companies I've worked at has been based on the fact that Sun is strong, Sun will be around for a while, Sun will continue development and support. Which has all been true for quite some time now.

However, this is definitely one of the weakest points in Sun's lifetime and it may scare away potential enterprise level decision makers into going with Java and Solaris.

Re:Future of Java without Sun? (-1, Troll)

kwerle (39371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193565)

How would Java evolve without Sun to "guide" it. What would Sun certifications mean without Sun there to back it up? ...

If Sun does go out of business, Java may become fragmented and start losing the solid base it has around it.


#1: you're on dope.
#2: you're on crack!

I pray that Apple, IBM, or anybody who knows anything about OO programming would buy/take/steal Java from SUN, who have failed Java like only SUN could. Hell, if M$ bought Java from SUN, we'd probably end up with better APIs. If WINE can reproduce win32, why not Java...

I blame SUN squarely for the failure that Java is today. Any by that, I mean everything from AJAX to php eating what should have been Java's lunch.

Re:Future of Java without Sun? (2, Interesting)

Hyram Graff (962405) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193658)

Hell, if M$ bought Java from SUN, we'd probably end up with better APIs.

M$ doesn't need to buy Java. C# is pretty much their answer to Java.

Re:Future of Java without Sun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193671)



Quick question:

I understand the "explosion" meaning of the other acronyms, but what is SUN an acronym for?


Re:Future of Java without Sun? (3, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193723)

uh... Stanford University Network?

Re:Future of Java without Sun? (5, Insightful)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193792)

Hell, if M$ bought Java from SUN, we'd probably end up with better APIs.
I doubt it. Microsoft has had a couple of bold attempts to kill java, why would it better it?
It shipped JVM 1.1 with extensions, so that it really wasn't a compliant JVM. That left sun with the choice of either 1) accepting the changes, and having it controlled by MS, or 2) fighting them, leaving the Windows platform with an older JVM, and Bill G a "look we tried but Sun is so unreasonable" mood. They chose #2. Sucks for the people who are still saddled with a 1.1 JVM, most people wouldn't know to upgrade, and think that any suckitude is due to Java, not MS's hacking of it. I for one am saddled with not one but two apps that require JVM 1.1 and are they ever slow.

Even that wasn't enough, MS created C# as a Java killer. Think of it as Java as if the initial version was 1.4, already had learned the failures of the previous editions. They were able to learn from Sun's early mistakes. And you can also bust out of the VM when you want to, to tie you to Windows more tightly.

MS wants to destroy anything that it feels can destroy Windows. ANything that can be a platform that doesn't force you to use Windows is a threat. If it were possible to "buy" Java (and i'm not sure of the status of the JCP) they'd tightly tie it to windows, and make things not quite work right elsewhere.

And the M$ thing is old. Microsoft is a for-profit corporation. It is not the only for-profit company. Unless you feel the need to add $ to every company (do i hear $un anyone, Ci$co? $u$e?) it seems kind of pointless. Yes they have been convicted in a court of law for dirty tricks, but they are not the only one. There may be more use in targetting companies that actively kill people or foster repressive regimes ($hell Oil?)

Re:Future of Java without Sun? (1, Insightful)

Decaff (42676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193815)

Java from SUN, who have failed Java like only SUN could.

I don't know what planet you are on, but on mine Java is one of the most successful and widely used development languages of all time. If that is 'failing', I would be interested in your definition of 'succeeding'.

Re:Future of Java without Sun? (5, Insightful)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193623)

How would Java evolve without Sun to "guide" it. What would Sun certifications mean without Sun there to back it up?

IBM and a passel of other organizations who have based their application strategies on Java would put together an open source consortium that would support and guide Java. Something along the lines of the Eclipse [eclipse.org] or Apache [apache.org] foundations.

Re:Future of Java without Sun? (2, Interesting)

Ekhymosis (949557) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193699)

Could this have any future implications on opening up Java to the OSS community, or would that be wishful thinking?

Re:Future of Java without Sun? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193823)

No! That would kill Java.

heh (1, Redundant)

jbridge21 (90597) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193481)

From Friday:

Asked if he is planning to step down, McNealy characterized the possibility as merely a rumor, without directly answering the question. "That rumor is about 22 years old and still chuggin'," he wrote in an e-mail.

Re:heh (2, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193918)

Actually that's a really good way to answer the question. He never actually denied anything, but he definitely made it seem like it was a denial, right up until the truth broke, when in reconsideration it was everything but.

I wonder if a lawyer advised him to say that or if he decided on it himself. I guess it's not stunningly creative or anything, but it's not bad. You got to give him a little bit of credit.

He had me fooled for a few days. (Not that I really follow Sun that closely, so I'm not tough to fool. I just sort of shrugged and said "sure...rumor...whatever.")

Massive layoff forthcoming (4, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193485)

McNealy was resistant to a massive layoffs (25-35%), which analysts say are the only way to revamp Sun at this point.

More importantly, revamp as what? Big iron only?

I dunno

Re:Massive layoff forthcoming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193559)

From the article's sidebar:
"Sun Microsystems reports loss of six cents"
I see dead business!

Re:Massive layoff forthcoming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193630)

It'll be interesting to see whether this comes to pass. Certainly these quarterly results don't speak to the 'need' for 20%+ reduction in workforce. That is assuming that the attribution of the loss was correct - ie acquisitions and stock-related charges rather than operating expenses. Given that I know some folks at Sun, I don't see how it's possible to incur a broad cut that large across the board - they've already trimmed a heck of a lot across the board. If there are cuts of this magnitude, it would seem that it would have to be at least partially divesting of divisions/groups, although I have no real idea what those would be.

Re:Massive layoff forthcoming (5, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193688)

From the San Jose Mercury News article [thestate.com] a few days back:

Monday's earnings call ``will provide investors the first opportunity to press both McNealy and Lehman at the same time to see if they are on the same page in terms of the magnitude of any restructuring,'' Sacconaghi wrote. ``A major restructuring move appears to require a shift in CEO McNealy's traditional sentiment regarding head count, which may be difficult to effect or cause a leadership struggle within the company.''

Sacconaghi estimated Sun would need to cut 10,350 to 12,150 jobs -- or 27 percent to 31 percent of its worldwide workforce of about 39,000 -- to reach an acceptable operating margin. But he added, that magnitude ``would be difficult to execute without potentially undermining the business.''


You can find several other articles that say essentially the same thing if you want to hunt for them.

Re:Massive layoff forthcoming (2, Funny)

retiarius (72746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193673)

ask a "sun sigma black belt" what the metrics say should be forthcoming,
unless this GE-inspired scientology is going the way of the CEO ...

Re:Massive layoff forthcoming (1)

PastaLover (704500) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193879)

More importantly, revamp as what? Big iron only?
I think anyone who has worked in a large company anywhere can concur that at least 10% of their workers are dead weight anyway. So when a company says they are going to increase efficiency they really mean "We are going to throw out all the lazy asses who are costing us money but not doing anything". Considering that, I don't really think a massive lay-off would mean Sun would just fall back to one of the domains they're succesful in. Unless, of course, they fire the wrong people.

Re:Massive layoff forthcoming (5, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193971)

Unless, of course, they fire the wrong people.

I've worked for a few big companies, and I can tell you with certainty that at any given time, AT LEAST 10% of the people working there were dead weight and could be eliminated.

But that's like saying, 3% of people in society are criminals. Okay, fine; but knowing that doesn't make picking the right ones any easier. You can't just decide to go out on Tuesday and round them all up.

You can spend the rest of your life (and a whole lot of people have) trying to find ways of figuring out which 10% or whatever are the unproductive ones. Occasionally, it's obvious. But more often, it's quite subtle; someone who looks unproductive on the surface might be just the person you need occasionally -- like some of the old-guard guys in my office: they don't do much but sit around and eat donuts 90% of the time, but when you need a piece of information, you know where to go to. And in that other 10% of the time, they make well up for their donut-munching. Likewise, there are interns and brand new hires who slave away constantly from 7:30AM to 6:30PM in some cases, but what they're working on is often not the most useful stuff around. (Of course, they're cheap, so they stay hired regardless.)

Firing people is like playing a game of russian roulette, but instead of just playing for your own brains, you're playing for a whole lot of people's jobs, futures, careers, and fortunes. I'd much rather keep around a few extra people than pull the trigger on someone that turns out, in some subtle and unforseen way, to be crucial to daily operations. Human social networks are a complex thing, and that's what you're really dealing with in "management." (Of course, only a few percentage of managers--usually the best ones in my experience--realize this.)

Re:Massive layoff forthcoming (4, Insightful)

jadavis (473492) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193960)

It's sad that Sun is looking at so much financial trouble right now (assuming they actually are, and it might not actually be that bad). Solaris 10 is really quite amazing software, and their chip designs look very promising. I think it would take Linux/FreeBSD a long time to catch up to some of the things in Solaris 10 like ZFS and DTrace.

I'm really pretty new to Solaris, however as soon as I started using it I could tell that they did real research on the kernel. I was very impressed after using Linux/FreeBSD for a long time. I can't think of any other companies actually doing that kind of research still. IBM does a lot of Linux development, but I sometimes get the feeling it's more to just make Linux into an AIX replacement (not that I know much about AIX).

Didn't see that coming. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193497)

My impression of McNealy from hearing him speak was that he was an amazing businessman (he told stories about his job before Sun... at a dog food company) but simply had no connection to the tech. He was a very bright fellow, and he understood technology, but the only extent to which he understood it was he understood how to make money off of it. He didn't understand why the technology was important-- or that is, the only thing he understood to be important about technology was that you could sell it. This sometimes lead to Sun doing things that were wonderful business moves, but more often, it lead to Sun doing things that simply didn't make sense from any perspective.

Johnathan Schwartz definitely understands the technology. I cannot help but wonder if this will produce changes in the way Sun behaves. Sun is doing a lot of things right now that just don't make sense-- selling products that the market doesn't want; selling products that the market does want but putting rediculous restrictions on their functionality or use*; charging out the nose for things every other company gives away for free; giving away for free everything that it would make sense for Sun to charge out the nose for; simultaneously allowing the divergent interests of Sparc, Solaris and Java to hold each other back and get in each other's way. Since I think many of these things were byproducts of McNealy's strange mastery of economics but total ignorance of what the computer market in specific wants, it seems this could change with Schwartz at the tiller. But on the other hand Johnathan Schwartz has been in a position of power within Sun for some time now, and one would expect that if he were going to make an impact on Sun's behavior, he'd have done it already.

How do you suppose Sun's behavior will change after this point?

* One of many examples: I think a lot of people might be interested in SunRay if it wasn't that its use is still painfully tied to Solaris, which nobody wants to use so much as within 50 feet of a desktop machine.

Re:Didn't see that coming. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193574)

Uhh, the SunRay server also runs on Linux (SuSE and RHAT): http://www.sun.com/software/sunray/ [sun.com]

Re:Didn't see that coming. (3, Interesting)

aphaenogaster (884935) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193680)

And I personally set up and have used sunrays running on fedora with crossover office for endnote, office, and dreamweaver. With the SGD bit, now it appears that the windows barrier no longer exists. Of course now I just use vi, perl, and have a dual processor sparc box under my desk running solaris 10 with windows 2000 running on a sunpci card. The only reason I wouldnt want solaris closer to my desktop is the fan noise.

Re:Didn't see that coming. (3, Funny)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193717)

his job before Sun... at a dog food company

I wonder if they ate their own dog food?

Re:Didn't see that coming. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193741)

And I suppose people would like Linux instead of Solaris?
That is just being a zealot, Solaris is a great operating system. The desktop environment provided by sun always suck but the OS is great and fun to develop for.
It takes some time to go through the docs but it does a lot of cool low level stuff.

Sun can't charge for java, no one buys their app servers they keep changing name, building clusters is (relatively) easy and there is a lot of competition in middle range servers , OSX is a better Workstation environment, IBM owns the mainframe... I do beleive Solaris is still sun's best asset they can make money on.

Re:Didn't see that coming. (3, Informative)

An dochasac (591582) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193753)

* One of many examples: I think a lot of people might be interested in SunRay if it wasn't that its use is still painfully tied to Solaris, which nobody wants to use so much as within 50 feet of a desktop machine.

Sun Ray isn't tied to Solaris. It has been available for linux since 2004. Customers have been running Windows via RDP client, tarantella or citrix for much longer than that. It just takes a while for new technologies to trickle down to joe user and replace cheap, but inefficient technologies. My only complaint is that there is no Sun Ray server version for OSX yet (AFAIK).

Re:Didn't see that coming. (1)

JavaManJim (946878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193754)

Good high level comment on Schwartz. He has some challenges but challenges are fun for people with minds like Schwartz.

I hope and pray that Sparc desktops quit being priced at 3k and drop to something you and I can more easily afford.

Price Elasticity. The driving concept that would make this work that Sun does not understand is a statistical term called 'price elasticity'. I wrote a system for a major retailer that let sellers juggle price vs quantity vs dollars made.

Thanks,
Jim

Executives and Engineers (4, Insightful)

kbahey (102895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193859)

he was an amazing businessman (he told stories about his job before Sun... at a dog food company) but simply had no connection to the tech.

Some of the lousiest managers and executives are techies. This is not to say that every techie is lousy manager/executive, but rather that it does not go automatically that a good engineer would be a good manager.

Some of the best executives for tech companies were non techies. Look at who turned around IBM from another dinosaur to be to what it is today: a tech capable respected company that is kinder and gentler: Lou Gerstner came from non other than Nabisco...

Re:Didn't see that coming. (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193875)

My impression of McNealy from hearing him speak was that he was an amazing businessman (he told stories about his job before Sun... at a dog food company)
The market wants Sun Microsystems to be a company that eats its own dogfood.

Clearly, Scott McNealy is not and has never been that man... I hope.

Java is a sinking ship (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193527)

McNealy knows he's fighting a losing battle. I can't blame him. SPARC's dead, Solaris is dead, all that's left is for Java to die. It's already halfway there. Sure it still has some life in the enterprise, but on the desktop its death sentence was written a long time ago. (Has there ever been a must-have Java desktop app?) Most people can't wait till Java finally dies. The Internet community will certainly breathe a sigh of relief.

FAG (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193538)

lol fag

Wow talk about timing - (1)

dotslasher_sri (762515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193541)

First sun waits until the closing bill to announce their third quarter results in which they posted a wider loss and then they announce that scott is stepping down. Probably to prevent drop of share price. Tomorrow when the trading opens the damage to which could have done to shares would have been greatly reduced by this announcement.

Re:Wow talk about timing - (4, Informative)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193553)

Shares were up nearly 9% in after hours trading. Not quite a pat on the back for Mr. McNealy.

Re:Wow talk about timing - (1)

floorpie (20816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193985)

Of course it's up. The market rewards profitability which is revenue minus expenses. Mc Nealy was known for not laying off people which is where almost all expenses go. Expect substantial layoffs in the coming quarters. Expect expenses to go down. Expect profit to go up. And expect the market to reward that. Yes it sucks for those laid off (as well as for morale of those who stay on)... I'm not saying it's good, I'm just saying that's the way it is.

I'm not a SUNW owner, but from an "investment"* perspective it might be a good idea in the short run. After the first round of layoffs though, it'll be harder to cut expenses -- all the "easy" stuff wil be done -- and they're going to have to increase revenues, which means they'll actually have to *DO* something useful (like develop new/useful products or change their business plan)... but that's medium to long run.

* ok, maybe it's more "speculation" than "investment"

Re:Wow talk about timing - (1)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193984)

sun waits until the closing bill to announce their third quarter results...

Yes, just like almost every other company traded on the NYSE. Companies don't post their results during trading hours.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Need big change? (1)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193586)

It seems to me SUN's demise is similar to DEC/SGI where fewer and fewer people need big bulky machine -> enterprises are ok with cluster of'disposable' Intel boxes vs an ever-living-upgradable box. Is HPC an area they are good at? Have they explore any 'alternative' business?

Need "throw away" change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193708)

"Have they explore any 'alternative' business?"

Invest in the disposable IT [slashdot.org] market to go with those disposable boxes.

Re:Need big change? (1)

ces (119879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193773)

It seems to me SUN's demise is similar to DEC/SGI where fewer and fewer people need big bulky machine -> enterprises are ok with cluster of'disposable' Intel boxes vs an ever-living-upgradable box. Is HPC an area they are good at? Have they explore any 'alternative' business?

Not really, you still need big honking multi-processor machines to run big honking databases. A quad-proc dual-core opteron still isn't there yet in being able to match a fully loaded E25K for chewing on a big database. Not to mention the huge difference between mainframe class and PC server class hardware on the reliablity front. Still the market for such beasts is limited.

It might do well for Sun to ditch the SPARC in favor of AMD. I don't think the SPARC architecture is up for matching the latest from Intel, AMD, or IBM. Furthermore Sun really can't afford to spend the development money necessary to keep up. Besides a 72 processor dual-core Opteron version of the E25K would be incredibly cool.

Re:Need big change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193908)

It might do well for Sun to ditch the SPARC in favor of AMD. I don't think the SPARC architecture is up for matching the latest from Intel, AMD, or IBM. Furthermore Sun really can't afford to spend the development money necessary to keep up. Besides a 72 processor dual-core Opteron version of the E25K would be incredibly cool.


I agree, but also don't discount Niagara yet either. I'll bet a well implemented system based upon it would yield incredible torque under load.

Re:Need big change? (4, Interesting)

georgewilliamherbert (211790) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193909)

Not really, you still need big honking multi-processor machines to run big honking databases. A quad-proc dual-core opteron still isn't there yet in being able to match a fully loaded E25K for chewing on a big database.
More importantly, a rack full of quad-proc dual-core opterons still isn't there yet in being able to match a fully loaded E25K for chewing on a big database. Ten racks full of them, and a room full of them, either, unless you can partition the database efficiently.

It is still far easier to do Oracle RAC wrong, and end up with a flat performance curve as you add nodes past 8 or so, than to do it right. It's possible to do RAC for some databases right and get reasonably, monotonically increasing performance out to many many nodes, but it's not common yet, or practical if you look at it statistically in terms of how many projects end up having to back it out and go back to large monolithic SMP servers.

Some databases are partitionable and easily splittable among systems without clustering them. Those, it's already cost effecitve to move to large stacks of small servers. But those aren't the typical data models for large commercial databases.

Re:Need big change? (1)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194024)

I was just musing how universities are finally getting out of the 'Dell sell everything we need' mindset, and getting back into big iron. The modern desktop is impressive, but there is still a place for big crunch. I've just been offered a chance to use a 1k-node cluster for some EM simulations. It's not about running the same old stuff faster, it's about being able to ask a whole bunch of new questions. Simulation runtime isn't determined by the hardware - it's how long the scientist is prepared to wait for the result. As computing power increases, runtime should stay roughly constant, it's just that the questions should get bigger.

There's money around for HPC, and Sun seem like they can tap it.

What does Sun need to do to succeed? (4, Interesting)

vinn (4370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193587)

I offer this topic so all threads on it can be put below:

  • What does Sun need to do to succeed?

From what I've seen in my past 12 years in IT, Sun has been about 80% on the money. They've succeeded in some wonderful areas and are one of the few companies that can still churn out their CPU architectures despite the best efforts of Motorola, Intel, and AMD to put them out of business. They've developed Java which has been a success as well as OS components like NFS.

Despite all that, the company has really screwed up. I don't think they did a good job advocating Java or buying the mindshare of the development community. Most sys admins would still rather use Linux and all the cool toys it comes with compared to Solaris. Sun is just cool enough that you want to use it, but you'd never recommend it to your friends.

I'll throw out the first salvo: the best thing for Sun at this point would be for Schwartz to step down at the same time. McNealy was a likable guy and he cast Sun in a good light (no pun intended.) Schwartz seems to backpeddle and tends to alienate communities that genuinely want to help the company succeed.

Re:What does Sun need to do to succeed? (1)

AnalystX (633807) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193681)

More technology like CoolThreads [sun.com] would keep me interested in their products. Also, if they offered their Sun Fire T2000 [sun.com] at around $5000, I would be much more motivated to pick up a box or two.

Re:What does Sun need to do to succeed? (4, Insightful)

Decaff (42676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193838)

Despite all that, the company has really screwed up. I don't think they did a good job advocating Java or buying the mindshare of the development community.

Eh? Have you any idea of the size of the Java development community?

Re:What does Sun need to do to succeed? (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193857)

Most sys admins would still rather use Linux and all the cool toys it comes with compared to Solaris.

Java started out as a loss leader for solaris, which is why I can compile python up on NetBSD, but not java.

Now that their OS business is a lost cause sun should release the java sources under a license which lets people port it to different platforms. The user base will increase and they may be able to compete with C#

Re:What does Sun need to do to succeed? (1)

Decaff (42676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193893)

Now that their OS business is a lost cause sun should release the java sources under a license which lets people port it to different platforms. The user base will increase and they may be able to compete with C#

The user base is already huge, and it is competing against C# extremely well right now.

Re:What does Sun need to do to succeed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15194000)

IF steve jobs wasn't a prick i'd say a sun/apple/redhat/suse merger is in order. Why: Jobs: amazing talent for not pissing off as many people. And that kid could sell ice in poland. Sun-They get it. But they have no clue. at. all. how to not have death grip on their 'got it' idea. Redhat-They get enterprize. Suse-serious synergy potential with redhat. nuff said.

Sun Needs a Free Desktop Revolution. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15194010)

Sun's interest in free software use should be as clear as day. Sun will be pushed out with M$ in control of the corporate desktop. M$ will continue their nauseating push into services that Sun is in a better hardware and software position to provide. Free software makeres will happily take advantage of hardware Sun makes.

Jonathan Schwartz's previous company was awsome (5, Informative)

EMB Numbers (934125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193666)

Lighthouse Design http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lighthouse_Design [wikipedia.org]

Lighthouse produced awesome NeXTstep/Openstep applications. Recall that Openstep was an open standard cross platform framework provided by NeXT (Steve Jobs) and Sun (Scott McNealy). Little things like the first web browser and content editor, the dev tools for the game Doom, and Lotus Improve originated in NeXTstep. Scott McNealy once famously said Sun puts all of its wood behind one arrow, and Openstep is that arrow. Um, then Java came along and Sun forgot about Openstep.

Sun acquired Lighthouse Design in ~1996. Lighthouse produced Diagram which was imitated in the form of Visio. Lighthouse was rumored to be producing a project management application (think MS Project). Sun initially said they would release the Lighthouse suite of NeXTstep/Openstep applications as Java applications for enterprise users. Sadly, Sun was never released them. Maybe there was no market or Sun wasn't able to get them to work as Java apps.

Openstep went on to become Apple's Cocoa.
Lighthouse's applications dies inside Sun.
Jonathan Schwartz became Sun CEO.

Maybe they will stop lying (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193805)

Maybe this will stop Sun's habit of lying. Rememer the Ultra 20 (AMD) for 30 per month that was really 450.00 for the first year then 360 per year for the next two years because their backend system 'could not handle monthly payments'?

The Price of Arrogance is Failure (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193831)

Good Riddance to the Man. He, John Akers (IBM) and Ken Olsen (DEC) had a chance to take on Microsoft using Unix; a far superior operating system to DOS or Windoze.
Remember their Open Software Foundation (OSF)? But instead of pricing Unix sensibly, they continued to charge ridiculous prices. Their Motif GUI was only available at a price. They bickered and fought, trying to show each other up. Akers and Olsen when they met for OSF would not even publicly shake each others hand in public.

Akers resigned from IBM the day before the stockholders were going to sack him. Olsen to this day refused to admit a mistake that cost his company. He still thinks the PCs days are number. McNeally squandered Unix, kept Java proprietary and continued to charge like a wounded bull. Surely stupidity in an Industry famous for increasing power and decreasing prices. His brash arrogance, 'You Have no Privacy, Get Over It!' won him no friends and no customers. What McNeally never learned was that while winners can afford to be arrogant, runners up cannot.

It's too late for Sun. In the world of Wintel/AMDnux, there is no room for a company that pushes their own overpriced hardware with Unix, an technically-brilliant operating system who was killed by the sheer arrogance of its owner and its licensees.

McNeally will not be missed.

New Sun Slogan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193842)

Sun Microsystems: We put the "O" in Game Over.

Scott did his best.... (1)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193901)

Scott did his best. He brought Sun back from nothing in the 90's with the Ultrasparc, gave the world Java, and was a true industry visionary. Remember, he coined the phrase, "The network is the computer." It is sad that he couldn't find a successful business model for Sun, but he will be missed.

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15193959)

I wonder if he's stepping down in the same way Bill Gates steped down, or how Steve Jobs spent a stint as "interum CEO". On the other hand over the last 5 years McNealy has sucked as CEO.

Ahh, the Early 1980s (1)

ed-drood (944550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15193999)

When the first SUN workstation came out (the SUN-1, duhh...) in the early 1980s there was this little computer vendor expo they'd have at a Hyatt on El Camino in Palo Alto (across the street from Ricky's Hyatt) and folk like HP and Tektronix and maybe Onyx and Plexus would have some small booths, all maybe the size of a minivan, and the SUN booth was always jammed with people trying to get a look at that 19" monochrome display running Unix tasks in multiple windows.

I always lusted after one of those and just figured that over time Sun would hold the line on quality and reduce the price and eventually I'd be able to afford one. Instead (and here, without any data) I blame McNealy for essentially sleeping, keeping the price of a desktop Sun too high so that now while there is a multi-billion dollar market of Apple and desktop Linux even Win32, there is no Sun shining there.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?