Cue the Titanic Culture Clash!

Oh, those wacky Silicon Valley geeks!

On the threshold of Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: JAVA  ) passing into the afterlife as an operating arm of Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) , Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz has sent an internal memo to all of his underlings. Some would call it heartfelt, others touchy-feely.

Either way, after reading the memo, I am left wondering whether Mr. Schwartz is completely out of touch or just desperate to comfort his workers. Both options point to a massive disaster about to happen.

Think I'm being a bit melodramatic? Well, let's sit down together and have a closer look at the evidence, and then we can sing Kumbaya by the campfire like the aliens did in Avatar.

  • Schwartz says that there are "only a few hurdles remaining -- before Oracle formally expands beyond software to become the world's most important systems company." Ever heard of IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , Jonathan? I applaud your optimism, but you're taking it a few notches too far.
  • "I doubt any company has had such a significant influence over the way we see or experience the world." A little less preposterous, but still off the mark. IBM's servers running AIX are older than Sun's Solaris (though the discontinued SunOS dates back further than Solaris), and so are Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ  ) HPUX servers. You could easily argue that Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) played a larger part in Internet history than Sun ever did.
  • "Upon change in control, every employee needs to emotionally resign from Sun. Go home, light a candle, and let go of the expectations and assumptions that defined Sun as a workplace. Honor and remember them, but let them go." Schwartz tells you to treat the memory of Sun much the same way you'd handle losing a loved one. Is Sun dead to him already? Well ...
  • "Sun is a brand, Oracle is your company." There you go. Sun, the business organization, is dead to Schwartz already. All that remains is a brand name and a smattering of mostly disconnected products and services.

If you read through this missive and come to the conclusion that Oracle will embrace Sun's corporate culture with open arms, I have a bridge in San Francisco you could buy for a bag of plastic beads. Sun will dovetail with Oracle about as well as Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) would have meshed with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , like Bobby Bowden coaching the Oakland Raiders, or like sprinkling chocolate syrup on your tuna sandwich. Yuck.

This will not work out the way Larry Ellison and Schwartz are hoping. Sun would have been a better technical fit with IBM, but the culture clash would still have been earth-shattering. I guess it was just Sun's time to fade into the shadows of history, never to be heard from again.

Bye-bye, Sun. We hardly knew you.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Oracle. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you'd like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (9)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 25, 2010, at 4:40 PM, therds wrote:

    We are all entitled to our opinions.

    As for the critics, see Bobby Knight's statement about being buried upside-down.

  • Report this Comment On January 25, 2010, at 4:42 PM, morblewhoosh wrote:

    Since AIX came out before one version of SunOS (Solaris is the brand name applied to SunOS 5), Sun had little influence on the industry. Well played, D'artagnan!

    Some things to consider: Sun promoted open systems computing at a time when companies such as IBM pushed total lock-in solutions. Sun computers were the first to come with built-in open standard network interfaces by default. Sun was an early and ardent and consistent support of open standards in general and UNIX in particular.

    Sun became the most successful early proponent of RISC-based processor architectures, emulated later by IBM, HP and others.

    At a time when IBM was pushing Token Ring as a proprietary successor of Ethernet, Sun developed and championed 100 Mbit Ethernet and later 1 GBit Ethernet.

    There was also this little thing called Java. Perhaps you heard of it?

    All that being said: yes, absolutely. He was completely over the top in saying no other company had such an influence. But dismissing Sun because IBM *followed Sun's lead* in embracing Unix is even more ridiculous.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2010, at 1:10 AM, Sheshzilla wrote:

    Well ... only the greatest Sun basher -- Fool...could have come up with an article like this. Is it true that Fool held thousands of Sun shares during the dotcom boom and did not sell it high ..... and are yet to recover from those losses ??? This is a nice way to take out the frustration !!

    Amyways....Yes, some of Jonathan's statements were a little too emotional and as another reader said 'over the top' ...but Sun has been known to be and will be remembered as a true innovator and has invented and contributed real technology to this world.

    Sun never figured out how to monetize Java. IBM, as usual, made the most out of Java. And yeah...talking about that printer company called HP....... do you remember when was the last time they released a revison to their Unix?? If I remember right, the latest release of OpenSolaris was like 2 months back !!

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2010, at 9:55 AM, mikejosh51 wrote:

    Bwaaaaahhhhh!!!! I can't stop laughing at the incredible lack of insight! The opportunities for Oracle will be absolutely stunning and the Sun employess can't wait for CiC to happen. We'll finally be working for a company that wants and knows how to make money! The only clashes that will take place will be with our competitors!

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2010, at 11:16 AM, terminalman wrote:

    So rather than acknowledge that Sun and Oracle have already set gold standards for open UNIX servers and for clustered enterprise database, you choose to pick apart a stupid email?

    Of all the media reports about this merger, surely this is the stupidest, and least insightful. Makes the Fools look like fools.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2010, at 11:30 AM, terminalman wrote:

    A vapid article apparently written by someone unfamiliar with The Valley and computers in general, with an article title unsupported by both the facts and the author's wild meanderings.

    Not a Foolish remark in here, only foolish ones..

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2010, at 12:38 AM, rthurlow wrote:

    I hope to be an Oracle employee soon, and expect it to bring good changes while I continue to improve on the very best Unix OS on the planet. That's not a minority opinion in my part of the world, so I have to agree with others that the author is clueless here.

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