When I First Met Scott…

I remember the first time I met Scott McNealy – I’m sure he doesn’t remember it. It was in the board room in our old headquarters in Palo Alto. I was with one of the folks from the startup I ran, and we were meeting on the advice of a mutual customer. I think it was 1992 or ’93. Before you could actually explain the internet to your parents.

I remember he talked about network computing in a very strange way – he just assumed the future, he’d already moved his entire mindset, and his lifestyle, to the network. He looked at the world through the network. And remember, the network didn’t really exist back then. It was a twinkle in a terminal window.

We were talking about the state of the industry – he viewed it in terms of a world that hadn’t been built. I viewed it (remember I was at a startup) in terms of what business I could close next quarter. I had payroll to make. And I can honestly say I’d never met anyone so plainspoken about the future. Or so facile with soundbites to describe it. He was confident in a cheshire cat kind of way, not arrogant or professorial. He was in on a secret: the network is the computer.

You may not remember what it was like in 1992, but Wall Street had Sun in its sights – Scott was getting all kinds of flak for not following the rest of the industry. He’d refused to endorse one particular technology, known then as the Chicago Project. A few of the pundits said, “The Chicago Project is the future, and Sun’s fighting it.” Scott didn’t think so. They said he was religious.

But he wasn’t making a bet. He was fulfilling a vision. A vision that was obvious to him, and a vision in which the Chicago Project would play a bit part – we had bigger things to focus on.

If you don’t remember the Chicago Project it was the code name to Microsoft’s Windows 95. The companies that adopted it – and replaced their own innovation – well, you can’t name them any more. They lost their ability to participate in the future, to differentiate.

What happened to Sun? Scott, and leaders across Sun, changed the world – by making an unpopular, but wildly successful bet on the internet as a driver of demand for systems innovation. The network is the computer.

A few years after that meeting, Netscape licensed the Java platform, my company was acquired by Sun, and I began working for Scott’s then CTO, Dr. Eric Schmidt. I saw the vision, the concept behind “the network is the computer,” wasn’t just Scott’s – everyone that worked at Sun thought his vision was obvious. And back in 1996, it was becoming more true, but not the certainty it is today – the world back then was fundamentally changing. Capital was shifting. Huge numbers of companies were being started and staffed, all over the world. Businesses were being transformed, started from nothing and becoming global titans. Enormous wealth was being created – durable wealth, not the donut franchises or sock puppets folks love to hate. Companies like eBay, AOL, Amazon, Yahoo! and Google.

And it has been, since that time, a wild ride for me, and for all of us at Sun. We’ve seen a massive global buildout, that took a pause in 2001 – remember, bubbles always precede buildouts. And Scott, back in 2001, when our revenue – given how focused we were on startups, on financial services and on telco customers – was on its way from 18 billion down to around 11… Scott was far more focused on what was going to happen in 2006 than worried about that quarter. He had that same confidence in the future I first saw in 1992. Bet on innovation and innovators. Stick to your vision and your visionaries.

Which is why he preserved R&D, and jobs, when the world told him otherwise. Why we preserved our relationships with the developer community. Why we redoubled our investment in systems innovation. Why we increased our attention on key customers and partners. Even broadened it to include some unfamiliar faces.

And nearly two years ago, Scott forwarded me something a journalist had written about Sun, and about Scott personally. It wasn’t the most positive note, and it was criticizing us for the bets we’d made, and for a vision that at that point, didn’t square with the reality in front of us – the new Chicago Project of the day looked more attractive.

And I sent a note back to Scott. Every once in a while you end up as the morale officer for your boss, and it was one of the rare days at Sun where I was more enthusiastic than Scott.

And what I told him then – is what I’ll tell you now.

There is no single individual who has created more jobs around the world than you. And unlike Henry Ford and some of the industrialists that preceded you, not all of those folks just work for Sun – I’m not talking hundreds or thousands of jobs, I’m talking millions. They ended up in America and India, Indonesia and Antarctica, Madagascar, Mexico, Brazil and Finland. They ended up everywhere. Everywhere the network travels.

No single individual has spawned so many startups, fueled so much venture investment, or raised so much capital without actually trying – just with a vision of the future that gets more obvious by the day.

No single individual has so effectively created and promoted the technologies at the heart of a new world emerging around us. A world in which the demand for network computing technology will never decline – as we share more family photos, watch more digital movies, do more banking on-line, build more communities on line, run our supply chains, automate our governments or educate our kids.

And no single individual, outside my family, has been a greater influence on my life – I am quite confident the same is true for millions of network consumers across the world. It’s probably less obvious to them as it is to me. You have defined for me what tenacity means. What integrity, courage and commitment mean. Inside of work, and outside.

Which is why I’m thrilled you’re sticking around for the next twenty years. To lend that confidence to the decisions I make, to help spot the next Chicago Project, and to send me the email boosts I’ve needed in the past, and I know I’ll need in the future. It’s not your fingerprints that will be all over our return to prominence, it’ll be your footprints right underneath it.

As I said before, we are in a rare industry – in which demand for what we build, for the technologies that power the network, will never cease. Not even the oil industry can count on that. We have the same vision today as we did back in 1992 – a vision that only gets more true as each day passes, and only gets easier to describe to your parents, and to an ever younger population that seems to know that vision in their hearts.

The network is the computer.

Thank you, Scott, you are a hero to us all.


Filed under General

67 responses to “When I First Met Scott…

  1. IanH

    Well said Jonathan, couldn’t have expressed it better myself. As you say, and I hadn’t thought before, there’s no going back, the Network is the Computer – bloody obvious really – just wish I’d thought it

  2. Scott, thanks for keeping the vision and the passion, we still know the networks is the computer and the rest of the world is catching on.

    Jonathan, let’s go get ’em and keep Sun innovating and building out the network to the world.

  3. Dear Jonathan,
    Congratulations on the new job!
    You mention eloquently above Sun and Scott McNealy’s role in envisioning the future: The Network IS the Computer.
    While Sun has mostly played in the infrastructure portion of this equation so far, given that many businesses have now been built that help us “share more family photos, watch more digital movies, do more banking on-line, build more communities on line, run our supply chains, automate our governments or educate our kids” – why don’t you buy some of them?
    Below is my article: 2006 IPO Prospects and Market Outlook (http://sramanamitra.com/blog/265) where you will see mention of companies such as Shutterfly, Qualys, PayCycle – which are getting ready for exits, and with your large pile of cash, you could create a very attractive, albeit different future for SUN via some unorthodox M&A.
    Best wishes,

  4. Carlos A. García

    Congratulations, I am sure that you are going to
    continue making a exelente work as until now as.
    I am of Argentina I hope that the events and promotions arrive up to here 🙂

  5. Well, we always knew the NeXT guys would wind up dominating Sun — Just didn’t figure it would be quite this way…

  6. Apu Petilon

    The commercialization and success of the Internet happened more due to Marc Andreesen than to anyone that works at Sun now or in the past. Sure, Sun has been saying the “Network is the computer” for many years, but NFS notwithstanding, Sun didn’t really know how to make it happen. Marc did. You mention Netscape licensing Java. How often do you run Java applets in your browser today?
    There are two main reasons why Sun is where it is today. First, inability to understand client side technology. Sun actually licensed OpenStep at one point, rather than innovating in-house. Second, inability to make a business from low-priced, large-volume products. Everything from Sun was either way overpriced, or, free. If it is not possible to make unreasonable margins on a product, Sun gives it away.

  7. Laurent pfertzel

    As an ex SUN-employee, up till 2005, I had observed that SUN was run with passion, which exists only when there’s a unique vision, and a commitment to the product, which is where the vision becomes reality. Now I work in a start up and we have that because a startup doesn’t exist without those. One thing I remember the most form 3 years at HP in the late 1990’s was Lew Platt saying he was worried about HP becoming too complacent, especially because everything was going well for the company. I think SUN got complacent, arrogant, lost touch with its customers and the marketplace.
    The truth in technology or may be for anything that will have a major impact is that it’s being built 3-5 years or more before the impact can be seen and the vision is put together another 2-3 years before. With the new product/better customer focus, I am sure SUN will do well but it will be tough and every bit of complacency will be an obstacle to success.
    Last year, I was happy to leave SUN. This year I would be willing to go back. Something has changed I think!
    Good Luck!

  8. Cool! This just might be an history blog entry! As far as I know, it’s the first one written by a Fortune 500 CEO. Go Jonathan! Hope you’ll find time to post now and again despite your new responsibilities.

  9. [Trackback] UPDATE: The answer appears to be yes! Several hours after I wrote the entry below, Jonathan posted When I First Met Scott… A nice story about meeting retiring CEO Scott McNealy for the first time in 1992 or ’93. Followed

  10. Survivalist

    Yes, but he doesn’t make money.
    That’s all there is to it. Sun is bloated and never grew past the low-hanging fruit of the dot-com days.

  11. Ian Wilson

    Damn, that was good !!

  12. I had the privilege to work for Sun Microsystems as a full time employee. I still contract mostly to Sun.
    How can I even begin to describe the impression Scott had on me and I did not even work with him? I envied the people around him for being able to meet him in person. The closest I could ever get to Scott is the McNeally Report (Web based audio on Sun Intranet). I listened to his shows like some people follow the TV soaps. This man had a vision like few. The “kick ass” attitude that just inspired everybody to believe in Sun and to do their best.
    I still tell other people in South Africa about the survey we took to evaluate our managers and after the very first survey he discussed with the head of HR, Crawford Beveridge, his own weak points.
    And I have to say how much I admire him for still being a family man, for not putting a great passion of his, Sun, above his family.
    I can hardly imagine a Sun without Scott as CEO. But I know with his continued mentorship, the excellent team (“gang”) he has put together will continue his legacy in the more than capable hands of yourself Jonathan.
    Scott, may you find happiness like never before in whatever your daily program is going to be like.
    Jonathan, thank you for allowing comments and providing the opportunity to leave this on your blog.
    ps. Scott, I trust you’ll now find the time to share with us some of your wisdom and vision in a weblog.

  13. Mark Allen

    Will your elevation to CEO signal an end to your blogging?

  14. I was surprised to see Scott stepping down. There are a few things I really look forward to at JavaOne: listening to Josh, Graham, Scott and Jonathan. I hope this doesn’t mean we will missing Scott from the lineup this year.
    Edison discovered early on that being innovative is only half the battle. People also need to want the innovation. I have been very impressed with the ideas presented in this blog. Hopefully those innovations can be turned into a sustainable future.
    Good luck Jonathan.

  15. [Trackback] Schwartz has an interesting article on his blog dedicated to McNealy and his truly inspiring vision of the network … The network is the computer. Thank you, Scott, you are a hero to us all.

  16. best of luck to you in your new role, it’s exciting to see a blogger rise to the top of a the corporate chain.

  17. This is one of the few posts I’ve ever seen which manages to be personal, inspirational, historic and visionary all at the same time.
    Thank you for sharing, Jonathan, and I look forward to seeing Sun innovate in the coming years.
    We’ll certainly miss you, Scott. You were right all along: The network is the computer.

  18. Good luck to both you and Scott going forward. It seems like the two of you were pretty in tune. Still, I’m interested to see how much changes along with the change at the top. The vision of the network as the computer has arrived. So what’s your vision for the next 10 years?

  19. Congrats Jonathan! Your ideas are changing opinions within my community and I hope you’ll be able to continue espousing those in your new position. Thanks for your tireless work and keep the technology innovation coming!

  20. John

    It’s obvious that Scott McNealy is a well-known visionary, but the main goal of a company is to make profits in a strong market competition, which implies a lot of improvements for the employees and a brighter future for the company. It’s simply the fundamentals of any company, and I hope you can go into this direction.

  21. So long, Scott … and congratulations, Jonathan!
    Perhaps it’s finally time to go long on SUNW again. 🙂

  22. Frank Sommers

    The kind of leadership that Scott has shown for so long has inspired many outside Sun. The notion that one must stick to one’s vision, and not waver in the face of criticism, is rare to find today, but is a quality essential to building a great organization. It is also a sign of integrity. And integrity makes all the difference between vision and mirage. I sure hope he will continue to be involved in developing the generation of leaders that will move Sun forward.

  23. Spud

    I think the only bit missing from your blog entry is : “Oh, and thank you Scott for the $1-2 million pay rise”.

  24. The Walrus

    As a Sun shareholder, I just wish you had as much passion for us as you do for the technology. If you create shareholder value, you can change the world too. Just ask the Google guys or Steve Jobs… Profits will give you the ability to realize your passion and it will be a whole lot better for us shareholders.

  25. Jonathan:
    Congratulations. The future of Java, and therefore the future of Sun, is very important to a lot of us in the industry. We want you to succeed!

  26. David Waitzman

    When I first met you (Jonathan): I think that you were the guy in the dorm room next door to me in CMU’s Morewood E-tower third floor in 1983. You left after your freshman year for Wesleyan.
    Imagine what you could have become in the computer industry had you stayed at CMU 🙂

  27. Right on for turning comments on; they weren’t earlier roday.
    Also, right on for _you_ — http://blog.fastcompany.com/archives/2006/04/25/sun_up.html . You are a bright sign.
    I wish you only the best.

  28. Congratulations, Jonathan! The SUN story is indeed an inspiring, exciting, moving and human story. SUN has great people, great minds, great vision and great technologies. Scott McNealy is no doubt one of the greatest visionaries in the industry today and the history of computing. His decision to choose you as the successor will have profound impact on SUN’s future. Wish SUN prosper under your leadership, with discipline and flawless execution.

  29. The network is indeed the computer, but for Sun that has only ever been one side of the story. Hardware is increasingly commoditised and the strength is increasingly in the software, to harness, manage and exploit each and every available resource. Even as this is achieved, the “computer” itself is not an end in itself. It is an enabler for applications, and we are still only scratching the surface of what can be achieved when people are presented with an appropriately architected service delivery layer, and when they have the wherewithal to collate and configure such service to meet the objectives of their own communities. Scott’s vision remains valid as a pre-requisite to this, but it is no longer *the* vision. This is not to downplay its importance, but it now has to be subsumed into a greater picture. While Sun may have had a rough ride through the downturn, I am sure Scott can take comfort in the role he has played.
    Looking to the future, neither does participation go far enough. We can all join in, but the future is when we do so in a way that achieves the common goals of the communities we form. The future is in collaboration: if participation is the means, then collaboration is the end.
    Thanks Scott, and good luck Jonathan.

  30. Matt Howitt

    I don’t usually write blog comments, but this post spoke to me. Every mentor dreams of their mentee writing a note like this. Congratulations to Scott on having such a big impact on you, and congratulations to you on recognizing his contributions to yourself (and a lot of others too) and acknowledging him for it. Also, congratulations on becoming CEO of Sun. Good luck sparking innovation, raising profitability and boosting the share price. I think nearly everyone in the technology industry continues to root for Sun.

  31. Congratulation Jon,
    I have always admired SUN as a teenager when I first learnt JAVA and thats the way I came to know about SUN. SUN and Microsoft have changed the world in many different ways and unlike others, Scott and Bill Gates are the inpiration for my life in different ways. After reading about you and your blog it seems I might be adding on my list one more person whom I adore.
    Best of luck Jon and may the SUN always shine brighter.

  32. Martin J Steer

    I’m happy for you, Jonathan! Congratulations and good luck! You will succeed.

  33. [Trackback]
    La notizia delle dimissioni di Scott McNealy (nella foto AP), fondatore e capo per 22 anni di Sun Microsystems, � sulla bocca di tutti. Quel che qui mi interessa sottolineare � che Jonathan Schwartz, gi� presidente e responsabile operativo della so…

  34. Congratulations & good luck!! may the force be with you .-)

  35. Carol Teasley

    Jonathan, wonderful tribute to a terrific guy. Scott kept me employed (and entertained) for many years. I too remember my first meeting with Scott in the conference room near his office and just remember laughing out loud more than once as he engagingly shared his vision with us. I still treasure the shirt he gave me with the saying “in a world without fences, who needs gates?” as the centerpiece of my partnerwear collection. I remember meeting you for the first time at breakfast in Redwood Shores and listening to your vision of object technology and the way things should be. Clearly, you had it right. Congratulations on this newest challenge. I and my SUN shares are rooting for you! You convinced me once that you understood what I needed to support my business and could supply it. Hopefully, the street will be easier to educate.

  36. Cong to Janathon.
    May SUN a great future in advance.

  37. [Trackback] John Markoff has an article in the Times today about new Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz. Schwartz is an out of the box idea man, as opposed to McNealy’s obsession with Microsoft (although that’s a vast oversimplification) and former president Ed…

  38. Congratulations, Jonathan! I know you will do a great job! I bet you can spread Sun’s name to the masses, breaking some myths that currently clouds it (specially in Brazil)!

  39. Scott B.

    Its a great speech, and I really believe what SUN stands up for, and where they are going. However, this has not translated into the financial results on the stock market. While I recently had to sell it off, because I don’t see SUN doing anything that will result in good returns (I bought it at 12) in due time, I will continue to follow SUN, because I agree, the network is the computer.

  40. A cut-&-paste from my own weblog:
    “I can hardly let this day pass, without acknowledging the end of an era on the technology landscape. Today is a huge milestone as one of the loudest, most pointed and influential leaders steps away from the limelight and looks to the future. Jonathan Schwartz steps up to take the CEO position, and Scott Mcnealy will step down and assume the Chairman role.
    I had the pleasure of dealing with Jonathan on a couple of ocassions and always walked away from our conversations with a new sense of urgency, drive and commitment to what we were doing at Sun at the time. I think his vision and mercurial demeanour will probably bring the right mix of pragmatic decision making with an unshakeable view as to where a company of the size and influence such as Sun should go.
    So to you Mr. Schwartz, I raise a glass and toast to your future success – and if you remember, I still owe you back for a coffee and bagel that you bought me the Santa Clara canteen.
    And to Scott, thank you for your legendary tenure as the CEO that inspired me to join Sun to work on this technology named after a coffee bean right out of college”

  41. Tom

    I am excited about the future of Sun. It is sad to see Scott go, but I think the company is in very good hands. The future is bright and Sun is well positioned to attack and gain market share.
    I also admire that you allow posts which allow both positive and negative criticism. Your blog will be something people write about 10 years from now, as the first CEO of a fortune 500 to get with the program.
    Good Luck!

  42. Sudhir

    Congrats Jonathan. Hope you still continue to blog. We in Bangalore would like to have you here sometime.

  43. [Trackback] » Jonathan Schwartz of Sun is the first Fortune 500 CEO Blogger.
    From the Blog Herald:
    Schwartz has a unique opportunity before him both as CEO of Sun Microsystems and as a CEO blogger. For Sun, he is the first new CEO in many years – and he follo…

  44. Joshua Go

    Congratulations on the new job and best of luck! I’m rooting for you guys.

  45. The Chicago Project … what Jonathan says about that connects with a part of my work history.
    n 1990-1994 I worked for The Wollongong Group — one of the companies Jonathan refers to, which was killed off by Windows 95.
    TWG made TCP/IP stacks for several operating systems. The SysV TCP/IP software came from TWG. We made most of our money from VMS and DOS/Win3.1 sales. The rest of our sales were trickles compared to those two.
    Chicago was a frequently mentioned word around the office. I didn’t quite understand what it meant, because I worked on TWG’s implementation of an ISO software stack. Jonathan also alluded to the ISO effort, because back in 1992 it wasn’t at all clear what the future of networking would be, and the ISO standards (X.25, X.400, X.500, etc) were supposedly going to be the winners.
    In any case, in 1994 TWG decided to cut its losses in general, and they had a massive layoff, and cut specificaly the ISO software stack product I’d been working on. My first layoff. But within 2-3 yrs TWG was completely gone, swallowed by Attachmate …
    Looking back … even though it (Chicago, a.k.a. Win 95) killed off several companies, it was better for people overall. That’s because Microsoft bought into the TCP/IP Internet which propelled the world towards the Internet/Web we know today. If Microsoft had continued towards their proprietary network offering, along with the several other companies offering other proprietary networking solutions, then this Internet/Web thing wouldn’t have taken off.
    But we also know that if Microsoft had been left alone as the only provider of Internet client technology … well, they woulda followed their embrace and extend and extinguish pattern to squash the traditionally open Internet. They woulda made it into a Microsoft-only zone if they had their druthers.
    Jonathan tries to claim it was Sun who prevented Microsoft from doing that. I dunno… Sun certainly had a role, but was Sun the critical player who prevented Microsoft from squashing the open Internet?
    – David

  46. Hari K Gottipati

    Well said Jonathan. Congratulations and I am sure you will drive Sun to the next level with the concept “Network is the computer”. Good luck.

  47. Niraj J

    SUNW has been the thought leader for Computing for 2 decades . What it has not shown is its ability to covert its thought leadrship into revenue streams.Other Vendors have been better in executing the vision and making money out of that.
    It is all great to talk about Utility Computing , Free software and Service paradigms. I even buy the thought that these ideas will lead to >100Billion market cap for some companies. But I would be very surprised if SUNW had the leading market share when these concepts really kick in.
    Jonathan : Please Surpise Me? I think this is your real test.

  48. Prince

    Congratulations. Now Scott will be more in a evangelical role ? Jonathan & SCott please educate folks that still say Solaris is proprietary ( it is not, see http://www.opensolaris.org/os/ ) , Sparc is proprietary ( it is not, see http://opensparc.net ).
    Also please spread ( more ) the good message of t1 based energy efficient servers.

  49. Congratulations Jonathan, I know you’re going to make an excellent job at Sun. We will miss Scott McNealy. Thanks for allowing comments on your post. I really hope you keep posting on your Blog. Good Luck!!!

  50. If the network is the computer, which it is, then that hardly bodes well for Sun’s future. The network has been commoditized both in terms of hardware and software – Wintel, Lintel. Sun’s historical success has been in proprietary big iron and the software that runs it. Java gave you open source credentials and it is the language of choice still for enterprise Web applications. But where is your future growth going to come from? You need to invent BIG BIG iron – “the computer”. You need to reach into the future and drag it kicking and screaming back into the present. You need to innovate in a way the competitors can’t. You need to disrupt! You need to become the Google of network hardware and software. You need to live up to your vision.

  51. David Li

    Speaking of the software from Sun, I just came cross to a talk you gave in the Web 2.0 conference that all software from Sun will be open source. How about those from Lighthouse Design? Would you sign this partition? Thanks.

  52. Osman Din

    I liked the Times article as well. Keep up the excellent work!

  53. Hi Jonathan,
    think this as my first contact to you 🙂 hopefully, there is a way, someday i will post “On me and Jonathan” …
    So … my name Eko Budhi S, i lead a java community in another developing country : Indonesia.
    And is contacting to you for a very primitive request.
    My friends here want to download Java, Netbeans, and Solaris but have problem with Internet traffic limitation.
    Now, here Ubuntu is very popular because they mail thousands CDs to my friends.
    My idea is, that if possible, you send to as some thousands CDs to Sun Microsystems Indonesia, and let my friends collect from Sun here …
    This will let my friends taste Java, Netbeans and Solaris … plus of course if possible Java Enterprise Systems !
    Best regards,
    Eko Budhi Suprasetiawan

  54. Jacob

    Congratulations Jonathan, and thanks for the eloquent post.

    It seems that Sun has been “batting heads” against open source and the inevitable direction of technology for far too long. I hope that continues to change and Sun embraces open source even more.

    As a former Sun customer who left because of how things were being run, I’m more than pleased with what I’m starting to see now.

  55. Fabian Wörner

    Good luck for your new job.
    a dream came up as I was reading this – partner by ‘nature’. apple and sun team up at two spots OS and x86 server or even get apple to use the t2 since jobs also talking about performace per watt. this would make both even better.
    a sun fan.

  56. Jon,
    First of all, I’d like to congradulate on your promotion to CEO of Sun Microsystems. Secondly, I’d like to emphisize that the market is about commodity hardware and support services, and Sun obviously isn’t exactly in tune with the demand. People don’t chose Sun products, not because of the learning curve, but because of the cost of your servers in addition to R&D for companies writing software for certain platforms, support costs, and training to administrate and implement Sun solutions in existing segments.
    Since you now have quite a bit of control, I strongly feel that you need to listen to your T&B customers, make it easier to get, and use the feedback to further aid your marketing department and global identity as the network business you are. “The Network is the Computer, is a very good description for the post-Millenium age we live in, although the same can’t be said for the years before 1996. I find it interesting how Scott thought back then, and how he still managed to keep 6,000 employees on board without cutting R&D or promotions. I hope you can keep up this similar vision, but with more regard to cost efficiency, and relevance to a broader scope of people outside the normal enterprise centric market Sun tailors the majority of their products toward.
    You have a long journey ahead my friend, I hope you can keep Sun afloat, for Sun is truely one of the few great companies out of the millions of internet service and hardware vendors you can find out there on the information superhighway.

  57. Brendan

    Congratulations, Jon!
    Recently I had the opportunity to read Inside Out. The head of Microsoft mentions in the forward, that almost everything Microsoft produces is based on Basic. It was an interesting point — every programmer I know started with a mandatory ‘Basic’ class in gradeschool on Microsoft’s Apple Basic. Few moved on to learn more advanced OO languages, but this mass audience powered the client-server (VB), and web (ASP) revolutions. I think Sun’s greatest challenge impending talent shortage. The network is the computer, but the company that wins will control the software that runs on it. Sun has always been the thought leader, and I am sure Jon is up to the challenge. Go Jon!

  58. Many thanks to Scott, for the impact you have had on this world with your vision, not just on the software industry but also the enormous set of industries getting benefited from the internet and java. Hope you continue doing same.
    Congratulations to Jonathan. There is no doubt in my mind that Scott has chosen the best candidate to take over the post of CEO of the Sun after him. Jonathan, you are as well a role model to many software professionals like me. Cheers

  59. Hi Jonathan,
    Nice summary on Scott. You forgot some key achievements of Scoot:
    -Twarting Microsoft´s attempt to coup the Net with “Active-X” by developing and promoting Java. Imagine what would have happened if ActiveX controls had become the de-facto standard on the Web. (IE7 beta 2 comes with ActiveX disabled by default for unknown sites, go figure)
    -Twarting Microsoft´s attempt to coup the WEB with MICROSOFT PASSPORT, by developing and promoting the LIBERTY ALLIANCE.
    -Promoting Mozilla´s success, by creating the ill-fated (not because of Scott or Sun, but due to AOL-TW´s lack of commitment outside of Steve Case) iPlanet joint company, at a critical point in time when AOL´s own support for Netscape was faltering.
    If there´s an open source Red Hat directory server based on Netscape´s code is because the people and the code survived from oblivion to this day due to iPlanet.
    In short: McNealy had something that Wall Street pundits and “analysts” do not understand these days: A LONG-TERM STRATEGY.
    So please, hang there and resist pressure from the financial know-it-alls to shrink Sun.
    And by the way, could you do something to revive the failed JDS-on-Linux experiment?. I ran JDS on Linux on my notebook, and as much as I like OpenSolaris, for some systems like notebook where the maximum number of drivers must be available, linux is preferable to Solaris.
    The JDS OEM Programme was a good idea, why not push JDS and StarOffice 8 to Linux distros as an “additional cost” layer that users of every Gnome based distro can subscribe to and install on top of their existing linux distros?.

  60. Bob Leano

    Good Riddance Scott McNealy. You cash out millions from Sun stock while it is at $5/share.
    Everyone was a chnmp during the dot-com days. The test was not being a chump after it. Well, on your watch, you really screwed up.

  61. Hi Jonathan,
    Its very nice to know about your past experience :).
    All the best.. Expecting STILL MORE from Sun and my all time favorite platform.. Java..
    Scott McNealy. you been one of the great beam of light from Sun :)….

  62. James Dean

    The Network is the Computer…
    … and the Data is the Business.

    Could be the business addendum to what has so far been a mostly consumer-led revolution?

  63. A Blogger

    This is why I love working at Sun!
    It is truly amazing how many people’s lives have been affected positively by Sun.

  64. I look forward to hearing about the operational changes you’ll make to Sun. The Long Tail of small enterprises will benefit from SunGrid, as you previously mentioned in your blog.
    Sun seems to be engineer-oriented and enterprise-oriented rather than consumer oriented. Have you considered the following:

    Augmenting your consulting division a la IBM and/or JBoss. Your strong engineering operations can be leveraged in new (and profitable) ways.
    Innovating in the consumer market with current Sun technologies. This move might be profitable, but it will also have the sid-effect of bringing existing consumer innovations back into the engineering and enterprise space.
    Monetization of Java technologies. We Java developers are aware that Sun make money off of Java, but have the notion that Sun just isn’t making enough direct money from it.

    As a Java Consultant, I see potential room for growth for all aspects based on the Java community’s on-line discussions and my daily interactions with my clients. I hope that you reach out to the Java community for ideas that will make share-holders happy. We developers have a stake in Sun’s success in general. We’ll be better off if Sun succeeds through Java ;).

  65. Godspeed Scott! Hey, aren’t you too young to be the one in charge? (kidding/smiles). A Java developer friend of mine sent me the link to the “Looking Glass” project, boy, that’s looking good! Very good! Something tells me you’ll do great!

  66. Jonathan:

    First, a me too: Congrats on the job. You’ll do fine.

    To echo James Dean, the Data is the Business. Focus on that. That means interop, getting the data in and out of Sun boxes, in any format and way the developers choose.

    This brings the second point: Solaris talent is “Hard To Find”. You have got to make that a top priority. People won’t be buying sparc boxes if they can’t run Solaris because they can’t hire competent Solaris admins and devs that like working with the Solaris OS.

    Look at the future: 15 years from now, and see the road ahead. Then start walking on it. The past is the past and nothing new will come out of there. The future is where it’s at. If that means Sun makes webservers for cars, or makes home Asterisk-based phone systems, or makes p2p media servers, or Someting Else, so be it. Be Bold.

  67. Jonathan, I think you are overstating your case.
    For what it is worth, I think the biggest mistake Sun made (and this opinion was formed when it was happening) was in the marketing of PC/NFS. If that product would have been marketed to gain market share, rather than to protect workstation seats, Sun would have owned all PC network server sales. PC/NFS was so superior to any other networking product on the market at the time, 1987-88. But it was much more expensive, and the software would only work with the network interface made by Sun. Instead, Novell went for market share and won, until Microsoft finally got its act together.
    We could have had 20 years of a single-homed file system, rather than the alphabet soup of the multi-homed file system of Novell and MS networking.
    For all of the talk about “Network is the Computer”, the people who ran Sun at that time, including Scott, dropped the ball on that one.
    I have great affection for Sun. I have used their products and written far more SPARC assembler anyone else I know. But I think that the sun has set on Sun.

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