Visiting Sun’s CEO

Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, just dropped me off at the lobby of building 10. So, I'm sitting on the floor near a power outlet and am blogging my experiences.

Jonathan Schwartz

What an enjoyable guy! We walked across the street to a Togos sandwich shop. Little-known trivia, Togos was started by a couple of San Jose State University students. I have lots of great memories of eating in Togos over the years (there was one across the street from our high school — I graduated in 1983).

Anyway, at one point we were having such an engaged conversation I had to remind myself that he runs a company with 37,000 employees and billions in revenues. We instantly were talking like long-lost friends.

There was a serious tone to our lunch, though, we talked a lot about the business difficulties facing Sun Microsystems. They are about to layoff thousands of people.

One thing I look for in leaders, though, is willingness to take the worst of times in stride with a clear eye on what comes next. Jonathan exceeded all my ideas of what a leader should do. And he has great pride in Sun, too, and says that the business is starting to turn around.

For one, Sun is going to encourage all the laid off workers to continue to blog — on Sun's dime. Now, I can imagine the kind of vitriol and crud that'll get posted by workers who've just lost their jobs. That takes real corporate bravery and my hat is off to him. One good thing about this? It'll make it possible for new employers to get in touch with laid off workers. There's a lot of companies that are hungry for workers right now.

BusinessWeek cover

At one point I asked him about the Business Week cover I saw (Marissa Mayer at Google was staring at both of us, being crowned by BusinessWeek as queen of innovators) and said "what innovations is Sun doing?" Later I asked him if there's something that Sun and Microsoft could innovate together on?

He told me about some of the innovations that Sun has been working on in the past few years. He's in the midst of a large-scale corporate upheaval and rebuilding.

One of the things he's proudest of is Sun's engineers found a way to dramatically lower the power consumption of their servers. How did they do that? By getting rid of things that Web servers don't need — and by slowing down the chip which didn't hurt Web performance, since most of what Web sites need is high throughput, not high turnaround time (he told me that I really care if 1,000 people can all download my blog at the same time, not that any one of those getting it a microsecond faster). He told me that they found that customers of the size of Ebay weren't using much floating point performance on its datacenters. So they removed that functionality, and other stuff. That saves power. Good for the environment, good for his customer's bottom lines, and good for Sun too.

He's deeply concerned about the amount of power that Internet sites are using. He says that for many Internet companies it's already one of their top three costs. Reduce power and heat on servers and you can save companies like Google or Ebay or, even, WordPress, a lot of money.

How could Microsoft and Sun innovate together? That's a tough one cause our businesses are aimed at different places at the moment, but we brainstormed a few places and I'm sure we'll get something going offline. The fact that we were even talking about working together demonstrates that it's a new world and that the only constant in the business world is change.

He's most passionate about the growth of content around the world. Talked about how a friend of his showed him the popularity of Indian Cricket games world-wide, something that hasn't caught on here in Silicon Valley, but has up to a billion people interested around the world. That kind of content will be delivered over the Internet, which means more business opportunities for Sun. He sees the effect that blogs, Wikis, MySpace, podcasting, and video and videoblogging are having on the growth of the Internet too and is looking for ways that Sun could help those networks grow and thrive.

Why invite me over for lunch? Cause he is seeing the deep effect that blogging is having on his company (it's helping recruitment at Sun too, even in the face of layoffs) and wanted to meet me and get to know me a little better. That's very flattering, but I too was trying to learn something about Sun that hadn't been reported already.

One thing I found out? That he's a staunch proponent of working at home. At Sun they found that people who work at home are far less likely to leave Sun than employees that have to come into the office. He sees that as a competitive advantage and doesn't understand why some companies force their employees to come into the office.

He also went into great detail with me about why Sun is in the position of having to lay people off. I found that to be fascinating behavior on the behalf of a CEO meeting with an employee of one of his fiercest competitors. He's bummed out by having to lay people off which seems trite to say when you talk about a CEO that isn't seeing his own job threatened, but he told me he grew up in a poor family and wants to put Sun into a position so it can hire back all those workers.

He won me over. I've met a few CEOs over the years and a lot of them just want to tell me their point of view. Jonathan was noticeably different: he asked ME questions about how I looked at the world. He was curious, personable, someone I could see drinking a lot of beer with and still remaining friends with. And that's my point of view from the floor of Sun Microsystems' corporate headquarters.

Next time Jonathan, you gotta come up to Microsoft and I'll buy lunch and let's take the relationship further.

Sun Microsystems sign at corporate headquarters

Comments

  1. Thanks for taking the time – I enjoyed the discussion. And thanks for pioneering a different way of engaging the marketplace. Consider me a fan… (and a reader, the ultimate fan :)

  2. Thanks for taking the time – I enjoyed the discussion. And thanks for pioneering a different way of engaging the marketplace. Consider me a fan… (and a reader, the ultimate fan :)

  3. Yes, Jonathan is awesome, and we’ll keep him!

    Thanks for blogging the visit too!

    What did you order at Togos?

    My favorite–small hot #9 on white with Dr. Pepper!

    LKR

  4. Yes, Jonathan is awesome, and we’ll keep him!

    Thanks for blogging the visit too!

    What did you order at Togos?

    My favorite–small hot #9 on white with Dr. Pepper!

    LKR

  5. Jonathan,

    Nice to see you’re changing things at Sun.
    But remember, sales aren’t generated by bloggers like Robert, ect…. The high society of silicon valley aren’t the hardware purchasers, and style and tech yuppieness is not their motivation.

    Keep it real, and the customers will come back. The cobalt RaQ series wasn’t a bad idea, but it was implemented badly. Jack up the hard drive capacity. Sun hard drives are terribly small compared to the rest of the industry, jack up the CPU power, and jack down the price.

    It’s not about SPARC vs. x86, it’s about value for regular people and that translates into the enterprise. Especially now with scalable and multi-hardware platform OS’s like Linux et al now available.

    Regular implementations eventually trickle up.

  6. Jonathan,

    Nice to see you’re changing things at Sun.
    But remember, sales aren’t generated by bloggers like Robert, ect…. The high society of silicon valley aren’t the hardware purchasers, and style and tech yuppieness is not their motivation.

    Keep it real, and the customers will come back. The cobalt RaQ series wasn’t a bad idea, but it was implemented badly. Jack up the hard drive capacity. Sun hard drives are terribly small compared to the rest of the industry, jack up the CPU power, and jack down the price.

    It’s not about SPARC vs. x86, it’s about value for regular people and that translates into the enterprise. Especially now with scalable and multi-hardware platform OS’s like Linux et al now available.

    Regular implementations eventually trickle up.

  7. How Microsoft can help innovate: strip your bloatware.

    Sun is making their software faster and more efficient, why can’t you? Each subsequent version of Windows requires dramaticaly more processing power to run effectively. You were just talking about how great it is to save energy. Pretty much the only way I’ve seen Windows save power is by essentially turning the machine off automatically when noone is using it. And half the time, I have to configure that manually on new machines.

  8. How Microsoft can help innovate: strip your bloatware.

    Sun is making their software faster and more efficient, why can’t you? Each subsequent version of Windows requires dramaticaly more processing power to run effectively. You were just talking about how great it is to save energy. Pretty much the only way I’ve seen Windows save power is by essentially turning the machine off automatically when noone is using it. And half the time, I have to configure that manually on new machines.

  9. Great read and I am definetly impressed with what Jonathan is doing with Sun. He is making the hard choices that will hopefully prepare Sun for the future. Consider me a fan of him and this is coming from a softie.

  10. Great read and I am definetly impressed with what Jonathan is doing with Sun. He is making the hard choices that will hopefully prepare Sun for the future. Consider me a fan of him and this is coming from a softie.

  11. Hasn’t Sun been saying their business is about to turn around for the past 6-8 years. Why should anyone believe them this time? Please don’t tell me it’s because of blogging. I doubt the street will buy that.

  12. Hasn’t Sun been saying their business is about to turn around for the past 6-8 years. Why should anyone believe them this time? Please don’t tell me it’s because of blogging. I doubt the street will buy that.

  13. Layoffs? Hopefully its the entire Java division. I don’t get what Sun gets out of it. I do think its a bad influence in the market. If one more idiot recruiter callse me for a 3 month J2EE gig for lousy money requiring 100% travel I’m gonna start a weblog “IdiotRecruiters.com”

    Java – sucky language, sucky implementation, over hyped and under powered. Open source it and let it die.

  14. Layoffs? Hopefully its the entire Java division. I don’t get what Sun gets out of it. I do think its a bad influence in the market. If one more idiot recruiter callse me for a 3 month J2EE gig for lousy money requiring 100% travel I’m gonna start a weblog “IdiotRecruiters.com”

    Java – sucky language, sucky implementation, over hyped and under powered. Open source it and let it die.

  15. Excellent read Robert & Jonathan – thanks.

    In the UK, the buzz word is ‘worklife balance’ and one of the options that many large companies are offering is homeworking.

    Research says that if there is a balance between work and homelife then the worker, will stay longer at a company, and sickness levels will reduce considerably (unless it’s the Fifa World Cup :D)

  16. Excellent read Robert & Jonathan – thanks.

    In the UK, the buzz word is ‘worklife balance’ and one of the options that many large companies are offering is homeworking.

    Research says that if there is a balance between work and homelife then the worker, will stay longer at a company, and sickness levels will reduce considerably (unless it’s the Fifa World Cup :D)

  17. Dude, your life is bitchin’! I would hate to think if I was going to have lunch with one of my bosses peer competitors. F’getaboutit. Wouldn’t happen, and I especially wouldn’t be safe writing about it. And the CEO of Sun? Not where I work.
    You were down on your job a few weeks ago…and now your like a microsoft ambasador to Sun. Nice. You do good work Robert, and your in the right place, doing the right thing.

  18. Dude, your life is bitchin’! I would hate to think if I was going to have lunch with one of my bosses peer competitors. F’getaboutit. Wouldn’t happen, and I especially wouldn’t be safe writing about it. And the CEO of Sun? Not where I work.
    You were down on your job a few weeks ago…and now your like a microsoft ambasador to Sun. Nice. You do good work Robert, and your in the right place, doing the right thing.

  19. Gah, what a buncha new-agey garbage, MySpace overhype, podcasting, blog, videoblogging, wiki’ing, work from home, Indian Cricket games…yadda yaada. Party like the crash never happened. And customers don’t visit homes. How on earth did Scott prep this clown as head bozo? Sun will be 1/3 the company in but a short while. I predict they long-term don’t have a prayer of a chance.

    Sun and Microsoft could innovate on? Yeah, new creative lawsuit settlements. Adobe, Symantec, it’s a new new trend, surely Sun (half dead as the are) could find something to sue Microsoft over. What’s the big Sun news? Oh yeah, ‘REIT to Acquire Sun Microsystems’ Campus’, and forget not ‘Revenue Declines 4 years in a Row’, and the first in a multi-part series, 5,000 sliced at head. But hey, fire up the blog armies…happy happy joy joy.

    it’s helping recruitment at Sun too

    Oh really? Join a company, where the Street is demanding 15,000+ at bare min.

    But I will let John have the last word.
    http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?guid=%7B24BB12CE-8914-4249-8483-0CC1874D6B57%7D

    Tough times in tech…

    Sun – head barely above water, trying to relive the Dot.Com spendathon. Microsoft – buy and spend way outta hole, horrible leadership. Intel and HP – 10% plus of workforce goes poof, whatever blood the Street demands it gets.

  20. Gah, what a buncha new-agey garbage, MySpace overhype, podcasting, blog, videoblogging, wiki’ing, work from home, Indian Cricket games…yadda yaada. Party like the crash never happened. And customers don’t visit homes. How on earth did Scott prep this clown as head bozo? Sun will be 1/3 the company in but a short while. I predict they long-term don’t have a prayer of a chance.

    Sun and Microsoft could innovate on? Yeah, new creative lawsuit settlements. Adobe, Symantec, it’s a new new trend, surely Sun (half dead as the are) could find something to sue Microsoft over. What’s the big Sun news? Oh yeah, ‘REIT to Acquire Sun Microsystems’ Campus’, and forget not ‘Revenue Declines 4 years in a Row’, and the first in a multi-part series, 5,000 sliced at head. But hey, fire up the blog armies…happy happy joy joy.

    it’s helping recruitment at Sun too

    Oh really? Join a company, where the Street is demanding 15,000+ at bare min.

    But I will let John have the last word.
    http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?guid=%7B24BB12CE-8914-4249-8483-0CC1874D6B57%7D

    Tough times in tech…

    Sun – head barely above water, trying to relive the Dot.Com spendathon. Microsoft – buy and spend way outta hole, horrible leadership. Intel and HP – 10% plus of workforce goes poof, whatever blood the Street demands it gets.

  21. I posted this on my blog…

    Jonathan Schwartz has been CEO of Sun for a few weeks now. Every MSM has interviewed him. But I got a much more intimate look through the eyes of a blogger, Robert Scoble, who he invited to lunch (appropriately given their financial state at a Togos).

    Clearly he is passionate about power consumption in data centers. But that by itself ain’t going to save Sun. I wish I had heard more about his plans for Sun’s grid and HaaS. It would be nice to hear more about how they fit in to Microsoft’s own plans to spend a few billion to build their SaaS grid.

  22. I posted this on my blog…

    Jonathan Schwartz has been CEO of Sun for a few weeks now. Every MSM has interviewed him. But I got a much more intimate look through the eyes of a blogger, Robert Scoble, who he invited to lunch (appropriately given their financial state at a Togos).

    Clearly he is passionate about power consumption in data centers. But that by itself ain’t going to save Sun. I wish I had heard more about his plans for Sun’s grid and HaaS. It would be nice to hear more about how they fit in to Microsoft’s own plans to spend a few billion to build their SaaS grid.

  23. Maybe you should consider switching to Sun? I’ve never seen you post anything so positively about having lunch with Ballmer or Gates…

  24. Maybe you should consider switching to Sun? I’ve never seen you post anything so positively about having lunch with Ballmer or Gates…

  25. @15. Maybe they don’t know who Scoble is. I mean, they can’t keep track of all 60,000 employees. Or, maybe they’ve read some of his “If I were to meet with Gates….” posts and are thinking…”thankfully, you won’t be…”

  26. @15. Maybe they don’t know who Scoble is. I mean, they can’t keep track of all 60,000 employees. Or, maybe they’ve read some of his “If I were to meet with Gates….” posts and are thinking…”thankfully, you won’t be…”

  27. Robert & Jonathan — reading “naked conversation” & had to visit scobleizer. Love the article…Togos was a rocket blast from past. I lived around the corner from the 1st Togos at SJS when I was Editor of the Daily Spartan – 1970 – and Silicon Valley was in diapers….hard to match the original sandwiches. My current business is a copyright administration online service (www.churchca.com)- CopyrightSolver…”like online banking for copyright clearances,” and we’re exploring new ways to reach a very niche market. Plus, we have more & more employees working from home. Works well so far, but we’re small & growing & planning for new employees in other regions. Any advice? Thanks for the book…it’s challenging me!

  28. Robert & Jonathan — reading “naked conversation” & had to visit scobleizer. Love the article…Togos was a rocket blast from past. I lived around the corner from the 1st Togos at SJS when I was Editor of the Daily Spartan – 1970 – and Silicon Valley was in diapers….hard to match the original sandwiches. My current business is a copyright administration online service (www.churchca.com)- CopyrightSolver…”like online banking for copyright clearances,” and we’re exploring new ways to reach a very niche market. Plus, we have more & more employees working from home. Works well so far, but we’re small & growing & planning for new employees in other regions. Any advice? Thanks for the book…it’s challenging me!

  29. “He was curious, personable, someone I could see drinking a lot of beer with and still remaining friends with.”

    You threw me with that one. Are you a rowdy drunk or something?

    You may find it hard to believe that I was once an adamant Microsoft supporter. That was back when Windows NT ran on the Power PC, and I think it also ran on a couple of other platforms. I can’t remember if Sun was one of them, but it was clearly on the “roadmap” (a much overused term, but underused concept these days).

    About the time IBM threw in the towel on OS/2 that all changed and Windows became an Intel-only OS. I never understood that move. It was as if the company, now the clear “winner” expected all hardware but Intel to dry up and blow away so that its software engineers didn’t have to bother their pretty little heads over edge conditions, an exercise that would have made Windows a much more stable product, and sooner.

    Of course Windows runs today on Apple equipment thanks to that company going the extra mile, but as two of my laptops are PowerPC based they will never run Windows, and as long as I’m getting comfortable with Unix based things, I might as well just standardize on Linux whenever and wherever OS X won’t do.

    I assume however that the OS that runs on the XBox is some variation on Windows, so that shows promise for the talent pool at MS. I just may decide at some point that my next PC won’t be a PC at all, but a PS3 or even an XBox. I wonder what choice of general purpose operating systems I’ll have by then.

  30. “He was curious, personable, someone I could see drinking a lot of beer with and still remaining friends with.”

    You threw me with that one. Are you a rowdy drunk or something?

    You may find it hard to believe that I was once an adamant Microsoft supporter. That was back when Windows NT ran on the Power PC, and I think it also ran on a couple of other platforms. I can’t remember if Sun was one of them, but it was clearly on the “roadmap” (a much overused term, but underused concept these days).

    About the time IBM threw in the towel on OS/2 that all changed and Windows became an Intel-only OS. I never understood that move. It was as if the company, now the clear “winner” expected all hardware but Intel to dry up and blow away so that its software engineers didn’t have to bother their pretty little heads over edge conditions, an exercise that would have made Windows a much more stable product, and sooner.

    Of course Windows runs today on Apple equipment thanks to that company going the extra mile, but as two of my laptops are PowerPC based they will never run Windows, and as long as I’m getting comfortable with Unix based things, I might as well just standardize on Linux whenever and wherever OS X won’t do.

    I assume however that the OS that runs on the XBox is some variation on Windows, so that shows promise for the talent pool at MS. I just may decide at some point that my next PC won’t be a PC at all, but a PS3 or even an XBox. I wonder what choice of general purpose operating systems I’ll have by then.

  31. Scoble Visits Sun

    Microsoft’s Robert Scoble recently visited Sun, talked with Jonathan Schwartz, and wrote up his experiences. It’s a great article.

  32. Interesting article – a bit of a Sun/Schwartz cheerleader. But Schwartz has been strategy head or senior exec for four years. Isn’t it about time for a real turnaround … not a just around the corner story?

    Plus while he seems like a smart guy I know I have read somewhere his dad worked for the US government in the DC area. Grew up poor …. methinks not. A lot of carefully constructed image is more like it.

  33. Interesting article – a bit of a Sun/Schwartz cheerleader. But Schwartz has been strategy head or senior exec for four years. Isn’t it about time for a real turnaround … not a just around the corner story?

    Plus while he seems like a smart guy I know I have read somewhere his dad worked for the US government in the DC area. Grew up poor …. methinks not. A lot of carefully constructed image is more like it.

  34. Here we go – on his blog as well

    “My Dad, now retired, used to work in the US intelligence community (he was the academic/researcher type, not the “envelope swap at midnight” type).”

    That might be poor compared to his current extravagance but it is not poor – far from it. I wish I was reading less about how poor and where he lives and more about how the financial performance was turning.

  35. Here we go – on his blog as well

    “My Dad, now retired, used to work in the US intelligence community (he was the academic/researcher type, not the “envelope swap at midnight” type).”

    That might be poor compared to his current extravagance but it is not poor – far from it. I wish I was reading less about how poor and where he lives and more about how the financial performance was turning.

  36. [...] Legendary Microsoft blogger Scoble (soon to be ex-MS) recently visited Jonathan Schwartz at Sun. His account of their conversation is well worth reading. I found the following comment about the impending layoff particularly interesting: For one, Sun is going to encourage all the laid off workers to continue to blog — on Sun’s dime. Now, I can imagine the kind of vitriol and crud that’ll get posted by workers who’ve just lost their jobs. That takes real corporate bravery and my hat is off to him. One good thing about this? It’ll make it possible for new employers to get in touch with laid off workers. There’s a lot of companies that are hungry for workers right now. [...]

  37. Good read. However, I spent 12 years at Sun. The whole “homeworking” idea was a sham. Largest part-time workforce I’ve ever seen. If I had a nickel for every conference call I was on where someone flushed the toilet, was standing over a putt or was about to finish that third martini on a wednesday afternoon, I’d be retired! In my opinion, that’s one of the TOP reasons why Sun could never recover….My favorite was
    this guy knew who moved to Cabo to open a strip club and “work from home”..yeah..right…

  38. Good read. However, I spent 12 years at Sun. The whole “homeworking” idea was a sham. Largest part-time workforce I’ve ever seen. If I had a nickel for every conference call I was on where someone flushed the toilet, was standing over a putt or was about to finish that third martini on a wednesday afternoon, I’d be retired! In my opinion, that’s one of the TOP reasons why Sun could never recover….My favorite was
    this guy knew who moved to Cabo to open a strip club and “work from home”..yeah..right…

  39. [...] Amidst all the “scoble effect” thats taking place, I’d like to highlight Robert Scoble’s post on his visit with Jonathan Schwartz. Anyway, at one point we were having such an engaged conversation I had to remind myself that he runs a company with 37,000 employees and billions in revenues. [...]

  40. A very interesting interview indeed. I am happy to know Sun is in good hands. Looking forward to new sun rise.

    Personally I would have gone for a much deeper but one-time cut. It’s better to bite the buillet and move on.

    PS. And he knows how to flatter a blogger :)

  41. A very interesting interview indeed. I am happy to know Sun is in good hands. Looking forward to new sun rise.

    Personally I would have gone for a much deeper but one-time cut. It’s better to bite the buillet and move on.

    PS. And he knows how to flatter a blogger :)

  42. There are two different stories as to how Togo’s got its name. The first is that the original San Jose location had a no identification other than a sign outside that said “To Go.” The other is that the founders were named TOm and GOrdon.

  43. There are two different stories as to how Togo’s got its name. The first is that the original San Jose location had a no identification other than a sign outside that said “To Go.” The other is that the founders were named TOm and GOrdon.

  44. Jonathan does seem like a nice guy and from the people I have talked to that know him personally say he is instantly likable. Good luck to you Robert. Oh and Jonathan, be sure to let us know when hiring stabalizes at Sun ;)

  45. Jonathan does seem like a nice guy and from the people I have talked to that know him personally say he is instantly likable. Good luck to you Robert. Oh and Jonathan, be sure to let us know when hiring stabalizes at Sun ;)

  46. [...] Let me start by being very up front: I’m not a fan of Robert Scoble. It has baffled me why this guy is so popular. Far as I can tell, he doesn’t do anything in the product sense at Microsoft. He seems to be some sort of internal reporter. He certainly has never impressed me as being particular insightful. He clearly enjoys his faux status as an “industry luminary” (see his interview with Jonathan Schwartz). This is a guy that has absolutely zero power at Microsoft. His setting the record straight post turned my stomach. Is there actually this much furor over a nobody leaving the company? Did he ever write a line of code or design a product? If Microsoft did “move heaven and hell” to make him happy, that’s a sad statement about Microsoft. They are focused on the wrong people then. [...]

  47. Post sucks. It’s the reading reading some teenager’s diary :-( The current SUN’s CEO was at executive level for about five years now – so what exactly he’d changed at Sun? The company is going directly to drain and no M$ucks blogging along with butt-kissing can change it ever.

    Be real folks – check the stock prices. Looks like it doesn’t make sense to SUN’s hot shots to keep the company above the water’s level… Any reason why they need to, though?

  48. Post sucks. It’s the reading reading some teenager’s diary :-( The current SUN’s CEO was at executive level for about five years now – so what exactly he’d changed at Sun? The company is going directly to drain and no M$ucks blogging along with butt-kissing can change it ever.

    Be real folks – check the stock prices. Looks like it doesn’t make sense to SUN’s hot shots to keep the company above the water’s level… Any reason why they need to, though?

  49. I’m currently at Sun Microsystems, living daily with the transparency of Jonathan’s decision-making processes and corporate course corrections.

    They’re the right ones.

    Sun isn’t DEC, SGI, Tandem, Wang, Apollo or any of the other former megalithic computer titans of yesteryear that have fallen from grace. Admittedly, the decision by Sun’s board to remove the poison pill provision is screaming “we’re ready to be acquired!” but the company is still an industry leader in hardware innovation (see the latest x64 and SPARC servers), the best enterprise OS on the planet: Solaris (secure, stable and technologically superior esp. in its innovations), a major leader in open source software releases, one of the largest developer communities in existence next to Microsoft and IBM, etc.

    The forthcoming job cuts are going to be painful. I have no doubt of that. Unlike some of the naysayers (and those with probable examples of iWork slacking), I honestly believe Sun will continue to shine.

    Sun has always been positioned as an innovator and future/forward-thinking engineering company. However, the days of dreaming about new technologies to fuel the next wave of tech growth needs to be put on hold — and Jonathan gets that. The Street wants growth: market share, revenues and returns. Don’t be surprised by Sun’s slow rebirth at Jonathan’s hands, but it will finally happen, assuming Sun isn’t acquired.

    Maybe some Chinese or Indian company will make the move into the major high-tech marketplace (a la Lenovo w/IBM) to grab Sun. Maybe parts of Sun will be spun off and sold, or run as smaller entities. (Can you say SGI and MIPS?) *Doubtful.*

    Whether I survive this upcoming round of layoffs, I still know this company is a winner. The contributions to the technology sector have been historic. Imagine a world without any of Sun’s creations, whether SPARC, Java, Solaris/SunOS, etc. It’s the overall impact to the marketplace that has been historic, driving other companies to work harder to earn their share, just as they fight to destroy Sun’s.

    And unlike doomed (SGI) or failed (Apollo) high-tech companies, Sun has a wealth of products to capitalize on.

    And, yes: Blogging won’t save the company, but the transparency factor will generate more sales, more loyalty and more reality about what needs to be fixed/focused on. (Just see the latest product review widgets on Sun.com product sites like http://www.sun.com/staroffice and http://www.sun.com/servers )

    Desperation? Nah. It’s a new paradigm shift in business for Sun, one which ought to engender more customers/users. Slash the servers by half from current prices? THAT would be desperation. (No, I’m not talking about the ‘free’ try-n-buy promos offered right now.)

    Sun will continue to shine.

  50. I’m currently at Sun Microsystems, living daily with the transparency of Jonathan’s decision-making processes and corporate course corrections.

    They’re the right ones.

    Sun isn’t DEC, SGI, Tandem, Wang, Apollo or any of the other former megalithic computer titans of yesteryear that have fallen from grace. Admittedly, the decision by Sun’s board to remove the poison pill provision is screaming “we’re ready to be acquired!” but the company is still an industry leader in hardware innovation (see the latest x64 and SPARC servers), the best enterprise OS on the planet: Solaris (secure, stable and technologically superior esp. in its innovations), a major leader in open source software releases, one of the largest developer communities in existence next to Microsoft and IBM, etc.

    The forthcoming job cuts are going to be painful. I have no doubt of that. Unlike some of the naysayers (and those with probable examples of iWork slacking), I honestly believe Sun will continue to shine.

    Sun has always been positioned as an innovator and future/forward-thinking engineering company. However, the days of dreaming about new technologies to fuel the next wave of tech growth needs to be put on hold — and Jonathan gets that. The Street wants growth: market share, revenues and returns. Don’t be surprised by Sun’s slow rebirth at Jonathan’s hands, but it will finally happen, assuming Sun isn’t acquired.

    Maybe some Chinese or Indian company will make the move into the major high-tech marketplace (a la Lenovo w/IBM) to grab Sun. Maybe parts of Sun will be spun off and sold, or run as smaller entities. (Can you say SGI and MIPS?) *Doubtful.*

    Whether I survive this upcoming round of layoffs, I still know this company is a winner. The contributions to the technology sector have been historic. Imagine a world without any of Sun’s creations, whether SPARC, Java, Solaris/SunOS, etc. It’s the overall impact to the marketplace that has been historic, driving other companies to work harder to earn their share, just as they fight to destroy Sun’s.

    And unlike doomed (SGI) or failed (Apollo) high-tech companies, Sun has a wealth of products to capitalize on.

    And, yes: Blogging won’t save the company, but the transparency factor will generate more sales, more loyalty and more reality about what needs to be fixed/focused on. (Just see the latest product review widgets on Sun.com product sites like http://www.sun.com/staroffice and http://www.sun.com/servers )

    Desperation? Nah. It’s a new paradigm shift in business for Sun, one which ought to engender more customers/users. Slash the servers by half from current prices? THAT would be desperation. (No, I’m not talking about the ‘free’ try-n-buy promos offered right now.)

    Sun will continue to shine.

  51. Ah, Togo’s! A lot of the work in 1978 and 1979 at Stanford University on the S-1 Lisp compiler (which eventually fed into the design of the Common Lisp programming language) was fueled by family-size #9 sandwiches, always with extra jalapeños, from Togo’s. Yummmmmmm.

  52. Ah, Togo’s! A lot of the work in 1978 and 1979 at Stanford University on the S-1 Lisp compiler (which eventually fed into the design of the Common Lisp programming language) was fueled by family-size #9 sandwiches, always with extra jalapeños, from Togo’s. Yummmmmmm.

  53. As a former Sun employee who left of my own volition, i.e., not laid off, all I can say is the sun has set.

    In my eight+ years at Sun, there were so many innovations that they failed to capitalize on. To see evidence of this one only need look at the innovative companies started by Sun alumni or run by Sun alumni. Ideas are prolific at Sun; many are good, a few are great, but there is not much you can do to promote your idea up the org, especially if you are not in Silicon Valley. There are a few exceptions such as Looking Glass. You only choice is to leave with your ideas and do a start-up (one example: google comes to mind).

    Until Sun figures out how to effectively filter and mine the ideas of the remnants in the trenches, create a process to capitalize on the great ideas, whatever their internal source, and remove the luddites from middle management then Bill Joy’s prophetic words will continue to ring true: “Innovation happens elsewhere”. Not to mention the anti-Joy bias that still survives to this day, deep in the sun caves, that ignored/killed his innovations!

    I hope Jonathan fixes the internal idea pipeline as part of this transformation process, its long overdue.

  54. As a former Sun employee who left of my own volition, i.e., not laid off, all I can say is the sun has set.

    In my eight+ years at Sun, there were so many innovations that they failed to capitalize on. To see evidence of this one only need look at the innovative companies started by Sun alumni or run by Sun alumni. Ideas are prolific at Sun; many are good, a few are great, but there is not much you can do to promote your idea up the org, especially if you are not in Silicon Valley. There are a few exceptions such as Looking Glass. You only choice is to leave with your ideas and do a start-up (one example: google comes to mind).

    Until Sun figures out how to effectively filter and mine the ideas of the remnants in the trenches, create a process to capitalize on the great ideas, whatever their internal source, and remove the luddites from middle management then Bill Joy’s prophetic words will continue to ring true: “Innovation happens elsewhere”. Not to mention the anti-Joy bias that still survives to this day, deep in the sun caves, that ignored/killed his innovations!

    I hope Jonathan fixes the internal idea pipeline as part of this transformation process, its long overdue.

  55. Mr. Scoble / et. al.,

    (from Mac Beach in post #18 above):
    “I just may decide at some point that my next PC won’t be a PC at all, but a PS3 or even an XBox.”

    If you want to see something really cool coming out of Sun, check out http://www.projectdarkstar.com.

    Think “service”…

  56. Mr. Scoble / et. al.,

    (from Mac Beach in post #18 above):
    “I just may decide at some point that my next PC won’t be a PC at all, but a PS3 or even an XBox.”

    If you want to see something really cool coming out of Sun, check out http://www.projectdarkstar.com.

    Think “service”…

  57. What a great read! and comments are the best.

    In my humble opinion I think Sun has a lot to give but needs to be more aggressive selling and shrink their R&D to focus on things that matter more. Focus on selling solutions and software that they already have and get the wave of open source.

    SOA is the next thing comming…

  58. What a great read! and comments are the best.

    In my humble opinion I think Sun has a lot to give but needs to be more aggressive selling and shrink their R&D to focus on things that matter more. Focus on selling solutions and software that they already have and get the wave of open source.

    SOA is the next thing comming…

  59. [...] A couple of weeks ago I asked what Jonathan meant by “Sun is going to encourage all the laid off workers to continue to blog — on Sun’s dime”. What’s emerged is actually more useful than blog hosting: after all, it’s easy to find a free hosting service out there.* Instead, Sun launching a blog aggregation page for Sun alumni, at community.sun.com. So if you’re an ex-Sun blogger, just head over there, click the Register link, and fill in the form. And once we’ve populated it with some content (other than me!), Sun and ex-Sun folks will be able to use this page to find out what their former colleagues are up to. [...]

  60. Hi,

    I was laid of from Sun a few days ago. No hurt feelings and I was actually excited to read your blog and see that Jonathan was going to allow laid off workers to continue to blog on “Sun’s dime”.

    My blog is still there – but I have no access. I guess they changed their mind. Is anyone else experiencing the same problem?

  61. Hi,

    I was laid of from Sun a few days ago. No hurt feelings and I was actually excited to read your blog and see that Jonathan was going to allow laid off workers to continue to blog on “Sun’s dime”.

    My blog is still there – but I have no access. I guess they changed their mind. Is anyone else experiencing the same problem?

  62. [...] So, like I say, I’m tickled with what we’ve got going now. How much happier will I be (seriously) with all that screaming metal in the rack? To read Dr. Schwartz tell it over at Scobleizer it’s not so much the bells and whistles or the chip speeds… it’s how many requests can you reliably service at once. I wish there had been a bit more detail on RAID and fiber channel on the new XServes. That’ll be important to me. It begs the question then. Are my existing machines keeping up with requests adequately? Is throughput as good as it needs to be? Memory/storage management optimal? [...]

  63. I have a lot to say here as a Sun employee who has been laid off (June, 2006) and re-hired (January, 2007). I don’t know where to start, so I’ll just ramble since I’m not sure who will actually read this anyway. If you are reading this, drop me an email at suzanne.blackstock@sun.com

    I do understand the never ending argument – for/against – working from home. It’s good, it’s bad. For the most part, it works great for me. I am a working mom, so I love being able to take my kids to the doctor without having to ask permission. I still dial into concalls when my kids are sick and have to be at home (I just exercise the mute button!). Is that annoying to those without kids? Maybe, but I have a job to do, and I’m going to do it – kids and all. When they go to bed, I’ll concentrate more, and log back onto email.

    Wow, sounds like someone you want to work with, right? Probably not by the way I described it, but what I described above happens to ME not very often, and if it does, I make up for it at night or on weekends. Matter of fact, I value this sort of flexibility so much at Sun, I gladly work extra hours, would take a pay cut, or even have no benefits at all. As a mom with several “jobs to do,” flexibility is a must.

    So people ask, with so many “jobs to do,” why do you work? Do I desparately need the money? Do I have other priorities than my family? Why do I do this?

    The #1 reason: I like to work. I *want* to work. Unbelievably, I actually work only because I enjoy it, and Sun is the place where I have had the most fun. My friends are there. My mind is challenged there, and Sun allows me to have a life.

    Because of this, I’m willing to pretty much bend over backwards for Sun. I have worked late plenty – until the wee hours of the morning, and I am no executive. I pretty much *always* check email until at least 10 pm at night (MTN in case anyone really cares) even though most days I do log on by 8 am MTN. Why? I just have fun. And seriously, I can’t really answer that question for you. I just find the daily grind interesting. I find change interesting (and boy can you find that at Sun!). I like working. Wierd? I have found so many working moms just like me.

    Now here’s the thing. You may think I “need” to work. You may find this interesting too – I don’t. I just want to. I really love it – at Sun.

    Oh, and was I bitter about being laid off last year? Come on, no. People, it’s life. Sun has a business to run. I am honored to be hired twice. I’ll continue to do good work. I really think Sun is the best place to be.

    Next time, I am going to write about my experience meeting Scott McNealy years ago and why I think the “badge” is so critical to the future…..

  64. I have a lot to say here as a Sun employee who has been laid off (June, 2006) and re-hired (January, 2007). I don’t know where to start, so I’ll just ramble since I’m not sure who will actually read this anyway. If you are reading this, drop me an email at suzanne.blackstock@sun.com

    I do understand the never ending argument – for/against – working from home. It’s good, it’s bad. For the most part, it works great for me. I am a working mom, so I love being able to take my kids to the doctor without having to ask permission. I still dial into concalls when my kids are sick and have to be at home (I just exercise the mute button!). Is that annoying to those without kids? Maybe, but I have a job to do, and I’m going to do it – kids and all. When they go to bed, I’ll concentrate more, and log back onto email.

    Wow, sounds like someone you want to work with, right? Probably not by the way I described it, but what I described above happens to ME not very often, and if it does, I make up for it at night or on weekends. Matter of fact, I value this sort of flexibility so much at Sun, I gladly work extra hours, would take a pay cut, or even have no benefits at all. As a mom with several “jobs to do,” flexibility is a must.

    So people ask, with so many “jobs to do,” why do you work? Do I desparately need the money? Do I have other priorities than my family? Why do I do this?

    The #1 reason: I like to work. I *want* to work. Unbelievably, I actually work only because I enjoy it, and Sun is the place where I have had the most fun. My friends are there. My mind is challenged there, and Sun allows me to have a life.

    Because of this, I’m willing to pretty much bend over backwards for Sun. I have worked late plenty – until the wee hours of the morning, and I am no executive. I pretty much *always* check email until at least 10 pm at night (MTN in case anyone really cares) even though most days I do log on by 8 am MTN. Why? I just have fun. And seriously, I can’t really answer that question for you. I just find the daily grind interesting. I find change interesting (and boy can you find that at Sun!). I like working. Wierd? I have found so many working moms just like me.

    Now here’s the thing. You may think I “need” to work. You may find this interesting too – I don’t. I just want to. I really love it – at Sun.

    Oh, and was I bitter about being laid off last year? Come on, no. People, it’s life. Sun has a business to run. I am honored to be hired twice. I’ll continue to do good work. I really think Sun is the best place to be.

    Next time, I am going to write about my experience meeting Scott McNealy years ago and why I think the “badge” is so critical to the future…..