Thursday, May 04, 2006

What went wrong in Sun?

This was the question asked to Jonathan recently. I do not recall what he said but my perception is a little different. I get furious when someone questions the relevance of Sun or tells me as if it is gone forever. Earlier I despised the question for my blind love for the company and now for the direction it is taking. So what went wrong in Sun? In 2001 it needed a big cut off in the employee number. Sun took the decision a little late. Second, for long it kept (fat) people in the decision making positions. By fat I mean the people who could not see where the industry was going - those immobile managers. Third, it tried too many things on different fronts. It was not taking decisions it was gambling with ideas. Fourth, it could not keep the right people in the company - Ed Zander for one. Fifth, when water gets stagnant you stir it up. It played around with different organizational changes but did not bring the new leadership (middle management) up the channel. It was the same group of people moving around as the leads and they failed in all of them. So, what did they do right? They kept the R&D going. You lose when you follow. Sun is not similar to anyother company because it runs on the new ideas and new technologies. Sun never lost its relevance in the industry. The programmers community stood behind it. The Java community grew and so did the Solaris' and the "network is a computer" concept. This is a company of brilliant engineers and stupid sales force. And who knows? 9000 less employees and there might be someone looking for an Operating system to add in their stack.

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