Friday, February 06, 2009

Good Guys - Dropping Like Flies

Sean Kerner just reported that MySQL president Marten Mickos is leaving Sun. I can't imagine worse news for Sun's efforts to buy a seat at the table for the next generation of computing.

MySQL pioneered the open source business model and is emerging as a key player in cloud computing. It borders on tragic that Sun is unable to inspire and retain executives like Marten.

I had a lunch yesterday with a good friend who is studying innovation. We compared innovation at Sun with innovation at Apple.

In 2000, both Sun and Apple got hit hard. Apple famously recovered. Sun, only somewhat less famously, did not.

Nobody claims that Sun engineers stopped innovating after 2000. It is clear, however, that Sun's management has been ineffective in harnessing that innovation to create a successful business strategy.

I got to know Marten when my last company, Persistence Software, was purchased by Progress Software. Progress was in a huge food fight with MySQL about who owned the MySQL trademark in the US - it's long story (complete with Marten being arrested by a Sherriff at the Progress headquarters), but Marten won.

Marten Mickos proved that he has what it takes to turn innovation into business success. He clearly believes that he can be more successful innovating outside of Sun than within.

4 comments:

Peter Svensson said...

I very much agree with your sentiment.
The elephants in the room, however are

1) Boozing away Java parenthood (not implying open sourcing it to late, meaning not putting foot down and adding closures etc.),

2) Thinking that you can reinvent the rectangle, when there's already excellent long-toothed JavaFX killers with huge antlers in the forest-

Hmmm. What to choose for my next project...

Christopher Keene said...

@ Peter - you are absolutely right. Imagine blowing $1B to buy a company and then not doing anything to keep the key execs in that company from walking out the door.

I guess that in comparison to how they blew (and continue to blow) the Java opportunity, Sun's handling of MySQL almost looks good!

Anonymous said...

I agree, Chris. I feel the same way about you losing Peter Yared. He was the talent that made your company credible, and you let him go... now no one cares about you, and we're all watching Peter!

Christopher Keene said...

@ Anon - you seem to be struggling a little on that ignoring WaveMaker bit. Please feel free to ignore us even more in the future!