Sun bids Scott buh-bye (and USAF foam fun)

Did you hear that? Sounded like IT Blogwatch, in which Scott McNealy presses the eject button. Not to mention filling an Air Force hangar with bubbles...

Sun's long term CEO and co-founder is leaving the helm. As Patrick Thibodeau reports: "Sun Microsystems Inc. CEO Scott McNealy has stepped aside as head of the company, an announcement made on the same day Sun reported a loss of $217 million for its most recent fiscal quarter. McNealy, one of the most visible, outspoken and sometimes combative CEOs in Silicon Valley, announced during a conference call to discuss the financial results that Jonathan Schwartz has been chosen by the board of directors to take over as CEO effective immediately. Schwartz, 40, is McNealy's righthand man and has been long groomed for the top job. He had been serving as president and chief operating officer and has been with Sun for 10 years ... Schwartz promised a 'comprehensive review' of all aspects of the company, including its technology and current investments ... Schwartz put particular emphasis on research and intellectual property development, which now gets about $2 billion in spending annually."

» Om Malik: "Wow… it truly is an end of an era. (Okay he is still the chairman, but that’s not like he is The Chairman) ... I am going to miss his one liners and swings at Microsoft. How can you forget the infamous (and very funny) Ballmer and Butthead quip ... Given that it is an emotional day, it might be tough for him to think of new ones ... Incoming Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz told reporters on a conference call that he will spend next 90 days reviewing the business and focusing on growth opportunities ... what the hell were you guys doing up until now?"

» So who is this pony-tailed newbie? RTE Business gives some history: "Schwartz joined Sun in 1996 upon the company's acquisition of Lighthouse Design, where he was chief executive officer. He was named Sun's president and chief operating officer in April 2004."

» Mathew Ingram: "It happened with eBay and Skype not that long ago, and now it’s Scott McNealy’s turn to put one over on The Register and Techdirt and all the other websites and news services that said he wasn’t going to step down as the company’s CEO ... They started with Caris & Co. analyst Mark Stahlmann, who said in a report in March that since McNealy had more or less managed to right the sinking ship of Sun’s fortunes, he might step down ... Maybe Scott timed his departure to make some of those sources look stupid. I wouldn’t put it past him ... And despite the dead ends and strategic mistakes, the vision that McNealy and Sun had of 'the network is the computer' is a lot closer to being reality than anything Microsoft has come up with ... Does that mean Sun is going to get bought by Google, as some would like to think? Probably not. But expect them to get a whole lot closer. Jonathan Schwartz and Google’s Eric Schmidt are not only former colleagues, but they think alike on a lot of topics."

» Justin Mann: "McNearly [pun or Freudian slip?] led sun for quite a while, and pushed Sun in many different directions including ones that ended up with Sun losing huge amounts of money over the past few years. With a change in management, the hope is that a change in direction will help bring the company back to good. With partnerships happening with companies like IBM and Vmware, we definitely see a change in typical Sun attitude, and for them it may be better this way."

» Harry McCracken:  "I could be quietly contemplating the numerous things that Sun has done to make the world a better place -- ranging from inventing Java to acquiring StarOffice and spawning the excellent free, open-source suite. Or I might recall McNealy's famously blunt take on Internet privacy ... he began talking about how StarOffice eliminated the need to spend a boatload of money on Microsoft Office, I asked what I thought was a fairly innocuous question about whether StarOffice's import/export filters needed to be close to perfect to make it a workable option for most businesses, given that they'd need to exchange files with the Microsoft-using majority ... McNealy told me that my question was the dumbest thing he'd ever heard...and that the prospect of someone's slides being rendered with less than perfect fidelity wasn't something that concerned him in the least ... Still, I felt oddly vindicated when StarOffice 8 and its open-source doppelganger 2.0 appeared in 2005 -- with the best filters for Microsoft Office's file formats I've ever seen in a third-party product. The improvements did indeed help to take the suite(s) to a new level as a Microsoft alternative."

» Schwartz's own blog is uncharacteristically silent on the topic. [But he did meet the president of Brazil earlier in the month.]

Buffer overflow:

And finally... Ellsworth AFB tested a new fire-suppressant foam system. It's specified to cover the hangar floor with foam to a depth of three feet in four minutes. It was a tiiiny bit over-efficient. Hilarity ensues [note that the text is misleading] [hat tip: b3ta]

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at Also contributing to today's post: Judi Dey, our very own Antipodean.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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