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VA Linux Dropping "Linux" From Name 378

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-isn't-that-special dept.
Several folks noted that VA is changing its name to "VA Software" to reflect the fact that they aren't a Linux company anymore. VA of course owns OSDN which runs various Linux and Open Source web sites including amusingly enough Linux.com. Can't say it matters much to me what they call the thing as long as they let us keep running Slashdot, but it really is sad knowing that most of the cool open source hackers no longer work there. My bad. Anyone have a link to the press release that doesn't require a login?
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VA Linux Dropping "Linux" From Name

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  • by NecroPuppy (222648) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @06:36PM (#2499877) Homepage
    ...didn't want to call it VA GNU/Linux.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Have the top brass figured out the next big buzzword?

    VA XML?
    VA Java? (haha, I'm just joking)
    VA Unlimited Freedom?
    VA USA?
    VA Voom?
    VA cancy?
  • Are they still LNUX? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Galvatron (115029) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @06:37PM (#2499882)
    I guess it doesn't matter, they're within spitting distance of being delisted anyway, but are they going to keep LNUX as their stock ticker? That seems sort of silly to me.
  • by FatRatBastard (7583) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @06:37PM (#2499885) Homepage
    The subject asks it all. They (apparently) don't do much development (above and beyond sourceforge) and they don't sell hardware. As far as I can tell they sell services for Sourceforge and ads for OSDN sites.

    Exactly what business is VA in now?
  • I don't think that it really matters that they change their name, as long as it's not a move away from linux but a move to broaden their open source presence.
    • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Embedded Geek (532893)
      The problem here is that LINUX is the poster child in the mainstream/financial world. The appearance of this is (IMHO) a blow to open source in the mainstream, especially on the heels of M$oft releasing XP.
  • VA Research (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Andy Tai (1884) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @06:42PM (#2499923) Homepage
    I believe VA Research was one of the former names of VA. Maybe VA shall adapt it again?
    It sounds cool and VA can still sell services.
    • Re:VA Research (Score:2, Interesting)

      by red_dragon (1761)

      Quite right. And before that, they're named Fintronic. I recall seeing a review of one of their workstations in Byte Magazine sometime around 1995. The reviewer seemed to be quite impressed with the machine, and Fintronic went on to quoting the article in their ads for many years. Unless I'm wrong, these are the names they've had so far, in chronological order:

      • Fintronic
      • VA Research
      • VA Linux
      • VA Software
  • by thesolo (131008) <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @06:42PM (#2499930) Homepage
    I always thought the VA linux hardware was a good route for them, and they discontinued that line and sold off all their machines (I picked one up for cheap on ebay, btw).

    So what do they have now? Just sourceforge, thinkgeek, some misc. ads & services? Honestly, does anyone know what kind of move they are planning here, because this seems like another step in the wrong direction to me.
    • by sigwinch (115375) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @08:41PM (#2500528) Homepage
      I always thought the VA linux hardware was a good route for them,...
      Except that their hardware was rather expensive. I kept checking their prices, but they were always hundreds of dollars too expensive.

      IMHO, their mistake was trying to go from a niche market (nice Linux-running boxen) straight to a megacorporation with a wide range of products (a la IBM). They tried to make that jump by maximizing the burn rate, but burn rate can only buy green employees and hardware. It cannot buy an experienced engineering and development staff, mature software products, and all-important customer relationships and business partnerships. It is possible to build a large diverse company, but you have to expand in stages with attention to profitability every step of the way. E.g., like how Microsoft came from no where and dethroned IBM and DEC. The whole 'Instant IBM' approach was just doomed.

      If you look at VA, their strategy was 100% Instant IBM. They tried to dominate the hardware market before they had the mature software and hand-holding support to make the extra cost worthwhile. They bought Slashdot to preach to the converted and shill house products. (Remember the Adfu days when /. banners occassionally had interesting products that actual geeks might buy? The only thing even vaguely interesting these days is Think Geek.) They threw *huge* amounts of money at bandwidth, hosting, and server administration in the hope of increasing the amount of free software. Nevermind that VA would have neither licenses nor expertise in the software thus developed, and could therefore not directly profit from it.

      So what are they left with? Banner ads (ha!) for things I don't want to buy (ha! ha!) and SourceForge. SourceForge support and cusom development can probably be made profitable by itself -- it's a useful tool -- but even if it is maximally successful and they get a CEO with a winning strategy, it'll take a decade to recover the capital they pissed away. I don't see them getting such a CEO (although the board could surprise us), so don't see VA even being a software powerhouse.

      If I was part of the /. crew, I'd be thinking hard about how to turn what they have into something sustainable. Random ideas: banner ads for tech products I might actually buy, paid placement of a few stories a week, paid Slash hosting (product support sites, religious/political sites, government sites), closed-source turn-key Slash installer, ...

  • by toupsie (88295) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @06:43PM (#2499939) Homepage
    "VA Software"? Damn I am calling my broker right now. Not! This is a sign that end times are near for "VA Whatever". We have seen it time and time again in the Internet market. The second a company changes its name in this market, they are on the road to oblivion. Confuse the investors so they are not focused on the business plan.

    I am really scared that Slashdot will be dumped real soon by "VA Whatever" and my personal data will be thrown into the wind for the company with the most pennies to snatch up. As we have seen in the past, its real tuff to control your own personal data held by a third party under extreme financial trouble.

    I am sure that Pud at Fucked Company [fuckedcompany.com] will be reporting the demise of "VA Whatever" in the near future. Dump the stock if you got it.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I am really scared that Slashdot will be dumped real soon by "VA Whatever" and my personal data will be thrown into the wind for the company with the most pennies to snatch up.

      Get some freaking perspective. We're involved in a WAR with extremist muslims and you're scared that some company is going to find out that "toupsie" posts 13 times a day at Slashdot. Sheesh.

    • Yeah, I know: with VA Linux listed as a 1 out of 10 [msn.com] as a "good purchase" via StockScouter [msn.com], I know I feel confident in investing my future in a company that has no known future direction.
      VA Linux Systems, Inc., a micro-cap value company in the technology sector, is expected to
      significantly underperform the market over the next six months with very high risk.

      They recognized it too!

      Seriously, though, does /. have a backout plan? I hope some other company thinks it's worthwhile, but it's fairly obvious that VA $WHATEVER isn't going to be around much longer.

      I believe this also spells impending trouble for Kuro5hin, Freshmeat, NewsForge, obvious SourceForge (good thing I'm not hosting anything there), and I'm sure other people can list other things.

      I wonder what will happen to all these sites when (or if) VA goes under? Will they be liquidated the highest bidder? I wonder what happens to code on SourceForge? (I wonder if a Linux distro would be interested in picking up SourceForge - seems like it could only help them...)

      Many things may happen to the Open Source community should VA die...

  • Anyone want to start taking odds?

    Seriously though, what does this say about two crucial things:

    A) What's going to happen to slashdot [if|when] VA Software Corp. goes under? It'll be incredibly hard to maintain the servers/routers/etc. with volunteers only.

    B) Is there anyone left from a commercial standpoint other than IBM and Redhat who are willing to stand behind Linux?


    • How about the thousands of web hosting companies out there that use Linux in all its varied distros?

      How about software companies that are beginning (and some that have been for some time) to offer *nix software development services?

      How about the embedded folks and various appliance devices that use variants on Linux?

      I don't think Linux will be vanishing anytime soon if one company bites the dust. Just because the (literally) thousands of companies out there supporting Linux aren't necessarily "household names" doesn't mean they don't have significant impact.

      At first glance, your post seemed to smell of troll... upon further consideration, it just seems dumb. Sorry to be harsh.

      • If I start an overnight delivery service and use Chevy vans, that doesn't make me a Chevy company. If I build houses using Stanley tools, that doesn't make me a Stanley company.

        Just because I use Linux as an end user product doens't mean that I am a Linux company.

        Companies will continue to make money by *using* Linux, but I don't see too many making money by selling or developing Linux.
    • Even if both VA and Linux disappears, Linux as such will always have a prominent place in the corporate world.

      Linux experts will still be in demand. Linux will still be the preferred platform for doing software development for many organisations. Some companies think it's OK to fork out $10K+ in licences for developer seats, and insist on using only MS tools, or other even more expensive solutions. A frugal software shop would develop on Linux, and deploy on whichever platform the customer wants.

      The only thing that's changing is the rock star mentality . Tomorrow's Linux professionals will not expect to retire when they're 30, they'll expect to retire at a normal age. The days of "Money for nothing, chicks for free" are no more,
      except if you're singing in one of those boy bands, that is.

  • Pathetic.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by guacamole (24270)
    VA Started as a Linux hardware company.. failed.
    Tried being a Linux support company (ala Linuxcare) and.. failed.
    I am bit suspicious of companies that keep on changing their business strategy as if it was a pair of gloves at a first sign of economic trouble..
    • Yeah, I'm much more impressed with companies that stick with unprofitable strategies no matter what. Adaptability is for losers!

      Not that I think selling enterprise sourceforge software will support a company larger than 5-10 people. But at least they're trying.
  • by hartsock (177068) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @06:56PM (#2500025) Homepage Journal
    Source Developer's Network?

    Dot instead of SlashDot?

    Meat instead of Freshmeat?
  • I have to wonder if that is what they are realling interested in doing? It is damn hard to make money with Linux services and support. Most of the people who are capable of using Linux in a production arena do not need or require support contracts and consulting services. Until there exists an enterprise level killer app for Linux the only people who are going to be interested in running linux are geeks anyway. Think of an exchange killer for the enterprise, that is when the conservative management types will become interested in Linux. That is also when companies will be able to survive offering up expertise and service contracts. Till then, good luck hitching your wagon to the Linux money train because it just does not exist. Quite possible it never will either.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:05PM (#2500075) Homepage Journal
    Supposing VA Software decides to cut off Slashdot... What's the Slashdot operating budget and can it stand on its own (ad revenues being what they are and whatever other revenue there might be)?
    • If taco's smart then yes.

      a site I won't mention is run by a friend of mine, he actually makes his living off it. Its just a gamers news site, but he actually makes enough money off it to have a car (BMW btw), have a nice apartment and live life.

      The catch is he has about 1 1/2 employees. so his revenue pretty much comes down to:

      $income = $bandwidth + $other_guy - $ad_revenue;

      ..there isn't much in the way of other costs.

      So if taco decides he and someone else can run the show (which they should be able too) slashdot should be able to get by, it won't be glorious and may not be able to sponsor guest writers like Mr. Katz, but they should able to keep the site up and maybe buy some food.

      -Jon
      • >$income = $bandwidth + $other_guy - $ad_revenue;

        No wonder he shows a "profit" from his site, if he's subtracting his revenue from his expenses instead of the other way around...

        Typical sneaky dot-com accounting ;)

        Shaun
  • by CmdrTroll (412504) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:09PM (#2500096) Homepage
    This change bothers me. A lot. VA is Just Another Software Company(tm) now. Not a Linux company and not a company that has a vested interest in promoting open source. Back in the day, VA's success rested on the success of the Open Source movement. Not any longer - as a software company, they are going to be producing commercial wares that compete with open source solutions. Overnight, they have changed from our friend to our enemy.

    Many of us saw this coming, but that's beside the point. But personally, I'd rather see VA fold than become a commercial software house. What does VA's new focus mean to us? Well:

    • Say goodbye to OSDN. And I don't just mean OSDN, as in, "VA hires a bunch of people to write Linux software." I mean, VA has no reason to support Slashdot, Sourceforge, Themes.org, and other very expensive sites that produce zero revenue. They will probably just sell the sites off to the highest bidder (who will just want the accumulated customer data, and shut the sites down). As we have seen [etoys.com] in the past, privacy policies mean squat after a business has been sold.
    • Say goodbye to UNIX support. It's expensive to develop for UNIX compared to Windows. VB programmers are a dime a dozen and can be hired for $30k a year, so why would a software company want to hire anyone else? The former "LNUX" will soon be in bed with Microsoft before we know it.
    • The removal of the "LNUX" ticker symbol will be another vote of non-confidence in Linux to pointy-haired managers who watch CNBC all day but don't have a clue about technology. Really. The business community will believe "Linux is dead" and it will be an uphill struggle to regain their confidence.
    • Augustin et al are willing to sell out their friends and scam anyone in order to make a quick buck. One needs to look no farther than the unscrupulous activities that happened on LNUX opening day to see what a shady company VA is. Our trust has been misplaced.

    The future is looking bleak. Our biggest cheerleader has switched sides on us and we are going to be in serious trouble. I certainly hope the Linux community can survive this ordeal.

    -CT


    • I agree with the fellow who spots this as a troll, nevertheless...

      VA has no reason to support Slashdot, Sourceforge, Themes.org, and other very expensive sites that produce zero revenue. They will probably just sell the sites off to the highest bidder (who will just want the accumulated customer data, and shut the sites down).

      What customer data? /.'s demographics-gathering is minimal, barely worth anything. OTOH, it's clear just viewing the site that /. does attract a very valuable demographic of working techs and engineers. /. is a brand name, well known to the tech industry, and one that exists with no content costs. There are tons of ways that /.'s free content can survive and prosper without VA, should it come to that. Even discounting ad revenues or corporate sponsorship to provide bandwidth, there are other ways /. and other useful resources of OSDN could be distributed than the old client/server paradigm.

      We have the technology -- we can rebuild you!


    • "I mean, VA has no reason to support Slashdot, Sourceforge, Themes.org, and other very expensive sites that produce zero revenue."

      Hmm... not too sure about this one. I haven't looked at the financials for these sites/the business units that run them (and the ad market is admittedly in sad shape these days), but I would hesitate to say they bring in zero revenue. This is probably least true of Slashdot and ThinkGeek.

      "Our biggest cheerleader has switched sides on us and we are going to be in serious trouble."

      I really don't see how the name change says they're "switching side on us"; you're right that they've done some shady stuff related to their opening day, but this goes a bit overboard. It's not like they're completely dropping anything and everything to do with Linux to run off and write software for Windows XP only.

      "VB programmers are a dime a dozen and can be hired for $30k a year, so why would a software company want to hire anyone else?"

      I don't know any decent VB programmers (and there are those who can do amazing stuff with the language... I happen to have done extensive VB work in my time) who would be willing to work for $30K a year. Any manager hiring such a person has to know s/he's setting him/herself up for a disaster.

      When you're talking about software development, it's the developers that determine the expense these days (as opposed to the environment). Your statement may have been true 5 years ago, but not anymore. It all depends on what your developers are most comfortable with using.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Here's a simple fact: if open source made VA any money, they'd not be in the situation they're currently in. And don't give me a bunch of hooey about the downturn in the economy either. That's like everyone blaming all their problems on the tragedies on September 11th. VA was doing poorly before 9-11, and as far back as a year ago I recall hearing people wondering what the hell VA's business strategy was (they seemed to throw money at Linux developers without any real expectation of a return. That may sound like a sweet deal, and to some of you that may sound like the way it's supposed to be, but now you see that it's quite a bad plan for sustaining a business).

      VA screwed up by not having any direction. Acquisitions and willy-nilly funding of anything that has "open source" tacked onto its manifesto is driving them down. That, coupled with the FACT that most Linux users seem to want everyone ELSE to spend $$ on Linux (but they never seem to think they themselves are obligated to do so) is contributing to a downturn in the Linux biz that has little to do with economic conditions.

      In other words, I'm not surprised one iota that VA is falling apart, and I will not be surprised when they eventually fall down. It'll be sad -- I wanted them to succeed, being a former stock holder -- but they had no clue. May other companies use their rise to fame and rapid descent into oblivion as a lesson on how NOT to do business.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So we go back to the 95-96 era, when Linux was only known if someone in your organization had brought it in to solve a problem. We've had the past 4-5 years worth of hype to get penguins in the door of places that didn't have the first vector. Once that's gone, the systems will have to stand on their own merits.

      If Linux gets the boot after that, it's simply because the people in command are going based on something other than technical merit. If that was the only reason for it to be used in an organization, then it was already doomed there.

      Personally, I used the boom period to install a couple dozen turnkey systems based on Linux in my organization, and they are now used by hundreds or thousands of schoolkids every day. They would be hard pressed to do without those boxes.

      So, stock issues aside, VA's latest troubles won't affect me. It won't be flashy and shiny, but it will be good where it really matters.
      • If I had mod points at the moment you'd be getting them.

        The open source / free software community has made almost incomprehensible strides. I can barely believe how badass the offerings are. I used to add "... compared to {a year, six months, etc.}" to that, but it's not a relative term any more. We're about 1-2 major releases away from having the best OSs w/ tools on the planet (that's Linux and the various BSDs). It doesn't matter if anyone else makes money off that, or whether we "dominate the world", since the software that's already been created is Free, free, and isn't going away.

        It's a shame that VA isn't selling their hardware any more, as I quite liked it. They converted a lot of evil VC funds into quality open source man-hours. If they did it on purpose they deserve a place in free software valhalla. If they didn't, we still got the benefits from it.

    • The community will have no problem. Whether as a rag-tag bunch of freelance programmers, teenage elitists, or as (ex)businessmen, it doesn't need money to survive. It will survive because it is no one singular community. It's diversity is it's strength (and often a weakness). Talk of doom is premature. You'll have to pass some serious world reaching legislation before that sort of talk becomes reality.
    • The sky is always falling.

      Say goodbye to UNIX support. It's expensive to develop for UNIX compared to Windows. VB programmers are a dime a dozen and can be hired for $30k a year, so why would a software company want to hire anyone else? The former "LNUX" will soon be in bed with Microsoft before we know it.

      This is stupid stuff. Do you really know what the cost of using Windoze junk is? I work at a company that M$ is deep into. The productivity lost is astounding. We have spent fortunes on closed source junk that can never cross comunicate, never works that well and sits on a crippled OS. VB apps that get broken with every change in M$ Office, IE and service pack are the least of our problems. At least we can throw co-ops at maintaining that junk. A larger problem comes from custom applications that never talk to each other, much less the M$ Office the company delcared "standard". Consultants and new hires are astounded at the Byzantine complexity of the tools we are expected to use to get our jobs done. In the end, you find your workers hanging around the printers for jobs that may or may not come through. VA can die, but that won't make closed source junk any better. The alternatives to free software are less and less atractive.

    • Say goodbye to UNIX support. It's expensive to develop for UNIX compared to Windows. VB programmers are a dime a dozen and can be hired for $30k a year, so why would a software company want to hire anyone else? The former "LNUX" will soon be in bed with Microsoft before we know it.

      That makes no sense. If UNIX support were as expensive as you say, it would be a highly attractive business proposition for a support provider. The reality is that UNIX/Linux support costs about as much as Windows support, but that companies need a lot less of it. Our support costs for UNIX systems are a tiny fraction of those for Windows, for example.

      VA has no reason to support Slashdot, Sourceforge, Themes.org, and other very expensive sites that produce zero revenue.

      I don't see why themes.org or Slashdot should be particularly expensive sites, at least in principle.

      The business community will believe "Linux is dead" and it will be an uphill struggle to regain their confidence.

      Who cares? If company A wants to pay several times as much for their software, maintenance, and support because it runs MS Windows than company B that runs Linux, let company A face the financial consequences. It's a free market, and stupidity has its costs.

      Not a Linux company and not a company that has a vested interest in promoting open source. Back in the day, VA's success rested on the success of the Open Source movement. Not any longer - as a software company, they are going to be producing commercial wares that compete with open source solutions.

      Who cares? VA Linux was not needed for the growth of open source software, and if they go away, life will go on. The nice thing about open source software is that contributions are, and remain, public and available no matter what happens to the companies involved.

      We better get used to the fact that most open source software will have been created and supported by failed companies. That's not because open source strategies make companies fail, but because closed source software doesn't survive the failure of its creators.

      So, let's stop belly-aching and get on with life. If VA Software keeps contributing to open source, great. If not, it doesn't matter.

      • > I don't see why themes.org or Slashdot should be particularly expensive sites, at least in principle.

        I'm assuming that you don't have to write checks for bandwidth and colo services each month. The article about /.'s birthday said they receive 2,000,000 UNIQUE visitors (or ip's) a month. I know I eat up quite a bit of bandwidth here myself.

        The article "Do Digital Photos Endanger History" page 1 currently weighs in at ~667K. I know that I open (including reloading articles to see new replies and "slashdot overload" pages 2,3,etc.) story pages about 15 times a day. That's 10Meg a day not including all the (hundreds?) of refreshes of the main page to see when new stories are added.

        So, ~10Meg a day, say 25 days a month (to be fair) is ~250Megs a month. Just for me. Now say that out of those 2 million visitors, 100,000 have about the same reading habits as me. I know that most of the people reading /. for years have never posted once, so there are a lot more folks out there than you imagine. That's 25,000Gig a month...

        Maybe my numbers are WAY off, but bandwidth isn't free. Nor is the physical space in a facility that could provide that much bandwidth. Not to mention the hardware that has to be behind it to generate pages from the database.

        My point is, it can't be cheap. I certainly hope that /. goes to a enhanced services pay model before they do anything stupid like selling out or shutting down.

  • Yup (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:16PM (#2500132)
    Saw this one coming [angelfire.com].
  • by defile (1059) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:19PM (#2500142) Homepage Journal

    The open source business model is not:

    Lets sell an alternative to Windows, but using open source! This will erode Windows marketshare and open source companies will make
    billions!

    What other possible software market is there besides that, you ask? Look up job offers for programmers. 95% of them have nothing to do with working on a commercial software product. Most programmers develop custom systems. These are seldom sold on store shelves and never exist outside of the environment they're created in.

    It just so happens open source software and custom developed systems go hand-in-hand. This is the market the open source business model targets. This market alone is far larger than the commercial software market.

    This is exactly what IBM's core business is involved with, and exactly why they're so behind open source.

  • by Lac (135355) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:20PM (#2500151)

    The thing that really gets to me is what this says about free software businesses, and about our understanding of it. Most people agreed, making a business from free software was supposed to go like this:

    1. Give the software, sell support: this, as we all know, doesn't work. If the software is that good, no-one needs support. If it isn't, no-one wants it. This is what RedHat does.
    2. Give the software, sell the hardware: now this works! Just look at IBM. Okay, okay, they don't actually give DB2 or OS/2 away, but you get the idea. It works! IBM, VA Whatever. VA Whatever, IBM. Profit!

    Yet VA Whatever has gone down in flames in a major way while RedHat is mostly going strong. Zope Corporation is doing very well too. So was Cygnus before it was bought out. And etc. ad nauseam. I guess we were flat-out wrong.

    Or maybe it was VA Whatever's fault. They had it all: big visibility, a whole shitload of cash, and many of the smartest people in the business. The only snag, I think, was that Direction didn't realize that they actually needed a plan, too.

    I think they still don't realize that. Someone should tell them and tell them now. Will you do it, or should I? How about you, Taco? You know the guys. GO TO THEIR OFFICE AND CLUB THEM OVER THE HEAD REPEATEDLY WHILE SCREAMING "YOU FRIGGING MORONS".

    Thank you.

  • by zerOnIne (128186) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:26PM (#2500185) Homepage
    this makes sense in a disturbing way considering what they've done with sourceforge... i'm currently working to get an internal SF system running at my company and VA hasn't been too much help (btw, if anyone here has had luck with it please email me or reply here)... what they basically did when they closed SF was to go and completely rewrite a lot of the backend scripts and relicense them as commercial... now they charge insane amounts of money (at least insane in my opinion) for companies to have them come set up a system for them... since their pricing scheme really didn't click well with what we wanted to set up (they charge per log-in account, and we were going to need a few hundred of those, though not nearly as many concurrent users) we're installing it on our own (using the sf-genericinst package, available on sourceforge.net)... the so-called "SourceForge OpenEdition" is still vapor, and when it does get released it will be missing huge chunks of code... namely things like the database tie-ins, and such...

    so basically this all makes sense with the name change... VA (s/Linux/Software/) is no longer the open-source-focused company it once was... it's sad to see things go this way...
    • by dbc (135354) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @08:46PM (#2500549)
      Ah ha! You've discovered the one real opensource business model that has been proven to work -- the ugly underbelly of opensource software, so to speak. Cygnus was successful because they did exactly this. They charged multiple companies big $$ for the same patch. Hell, they even charged different divisions of the same large company big $$ for the same patch (divisions that didn't talk to each other much, obviously). They *never* did *thing 1* that was not precisely spelled out in the contract. They threw incoming free lance patches on the floor. They hoarded patches as *loooooong* as they possibly could, in order to extract patch fees from as many multiple customers as possible before releasing to the open code tree.

      I'm sure this post will be labeled a troll... so be it. It is not intended as such. It is a report of my experience watching an employer write multiple 5 and 6 figure checks for exactly such "services" (in the Will Rogers sense of the word).

      I love the OpenSource ideal. I hate seeing Cygnus held up as an example of how to be successful, it sickens me. It saddens me to see SF go the same way, but this has been a long time coming, and is no surprise to me. It started happening about a month after SF went live. VA tried to sell me exactly such *services* when my employer explored bringing SF inside (a few weeks after SF went public). The open code tree at that time sucked. Building a successfull SF behind your own firewall at that time required either putting up with the marginal packages that were released, or signing up for consulting.

      Let's hope OpenSource doesn't disintregrate into a band of rich pretenders taking advantage of a community of naive idealists.

      (note to self: next time, remember the tags)
      • Cygnus was successful because they did exactly this.

        Cygnus was "successful" only in that it managed to sell itself for an obscene figure during the short-lived Linux bubble. It had been posting doubling losses ($1.5M, $3M, $6M) for three years previous to the sale.

        I hate seeing Cygnus held up as an example of how to be successful, it sickens me.

        Then don't. It was a money-losing company that went on to become part of another money-losing company. Not much of a success story....

        Tim
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:31PM (#2500210) Homepage Journal
    They expect to make money, hand over fist Immediatly. Most business need 3 -5 years to becoime profitable, a rule of thumb that got tossed by the wayside during the .com hysteria.
    VA will not suddenly start makinging Billions of dollars because of its name, clearly some exec is trying to blame there association with Linux as the reason for not making tons of cash. each move they have made is a panic move, sure to loose in the long run.
    I see many opportunities for VA to increase revenue, but they seem to unable to see the forest from the trees.
    On a personal note, I hope that if they do go under, the /. gang retains the rights to /.
    Of course they could fire Jon. Clearly he makes more then he's worth.
  • What's in a name? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by detritus. (46421) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @07:38PM (#2500241)

    What really constitutes a name anyway? Take the communications giant Motorola [motorola.com] for example, a name derived from the beginning automotive era. Victrola record players were popular for the home, so Motorola was made a record player for the car. It didn't work that well (naturally) but they kept the name.

    IMO, what establishes your image as a business should stay the same. The name "Linux" itself can mean so much than just an operating system. Linux has allowed them to build a decent-sized business with little overhead. Why not just give Linux credit?

    • Motorola (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BarefootClown (267581)
      Actually, Motorola didn't take the name from a record player, they took it from the Victrola radio. Motorola (Motor Victrola) marketed the first successful car radio. Incidentally, the unit was designed by the same man (Bill Lear) who invented the eight-track player, the Learjet, and a long list of other devices.
  • If Chevrolet decided to stop making cars would they still be in business? If McDonalds decided "No More Hamburgers" would they still be in business?

    /. is going to be left paying the tab for a company that never really had a business plan other than: "We are a hardware company that in the course of 6 months will stop selling hardware..."

  • This could be the beginning of the end for /. They may just decide it isn't worth it and divest all non core businessess, the way corel divested their linux business and spun off rebel.com to die an ignoble death. (Though I heard somebody is picking up a tiny piece of the Rebel.com corpse)

    But methinks /. better be prepared to go it alone in a few months time if the worst comes to pass. That would indeed be a sad day, but a lot of other once famous online portals have folded their tent and gone 404...

    (Hoping I am dead wrong on this)
  • by edashofy (265252) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @08:37PM (#2500515)
    Microsoft is dropping 'Micro' from their name...
  • by doorbot.com (184378) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @08:43PM (#2500539) Journal
    Perhaps VA has followed in many of the former "dot bomb" naming conventions where one thinks up a good list of names, then determines which are available. As most are probably taken, a domain name, and thus company name, are easily chosen.

    So, they found vasoftware.com" was available [netsol.com] and went for it. Looks like the record was updated today, too.

    So what else might they switch to in the future? Domain squatters are already on the hunt for their next possible name...
  • by crimoid (27373) on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @08:50PM (#2500563)
    The hostname www.vasoftware.com resolves yet there isn't a press release or anything to that effect on the VA website.

    I always find it interesting when News sites get press releases like this before the Company itself updates their own website. It's quite telling about who is important, Wall Street (Journal?!) or clients/customers/fans of the Company itself.

    Makes me wonder: Are they in business to hype the stock price or are they in business to make good products?
  • We gave the country away to John Ashcroft, might as well give the TLD away to NeuLevel.
  • Here's the link that doesn't require a login but it's only about VA requesting that the shareholders allow them to change the company name. Here [nasdaq.com]
  • by The Pi-Guy (529892) <joshua+slashdot&joshuawise,com> on Tuesday October 30, 2001 @09:48PM (#2500779) Homepage
    ...that all anti-VA posts, such as "Will they change their stock symbol" or "Who cares" have all been modded down as redundant?

    ...that there are very few "Good idea, VA!" posts?

    ...that the very few "good idea"s that there are are modded up?

    ...that they're all biased?

    ...that CmdrTaco is the only one who seems to care and post articles about the OSDN?

    ...that adding "Now mod me down for being a troll" at the end gets about "+5, Funny" or "+3, Interesting"?

    With saying that....

    Mod me down for being a troll, just wanted to put these out...

    --joshua :)
  • I voted for I.O.U. to replace Linux .
  • Wake up people (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ogerman (136333) on Wednesday October 31, 2001 @12:12AM (#2501196)
    If you thought all along that the Open Source movement needed:

    - big name corporate sponsors

    - its very own news relay site

    - a big centralized FTP/WEB hosting site

    - software companies to pay its developers

    ..then you were missing the point all along.

    Granted, all of these things have been very nice, but the fact is the VA leadership proved themselves incapable of reliably providing us with such services because they lacked entrepreneurial direction. (or they were just dot-com'ers looking to make a quick buck and high-tail.. who knows) Had they focused solely on top quality hardware at reasonable prices, they could have stayed in business for years, even if only marginally profitable until a truly brilliant idea came along. But apparently they weren't satisfied with this. Instead they just threw in the towel and blew out all their VC on worthless crap. Thanks but no thanks.

    In light of the inevitable future and to prevent any major disturbances to Open Source developers worldwide, I suggest that we quickly, calmly, and intelligently find replacements for the services that SourceForge provided us before it disappears. Until the US internet infrastructure becomes more robust wrt bandwidth and switches over to IPv6, I suggest something of a large-and-permanent-node-only P2P network to share the load of a SF-style (but more lightweight) web interface for project hosting and management. Such a network would, as most of our major FTP sites, be hosted primarily in academia or by generous ISP's or corporate entities. From a security and reliability standpoint, I think this might not be such a bad idea anyhow. Any comments or takers?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2001 @01:54AM (#2501476)
    Folks, there have been many posts about the end of this or that in Linux.

    First off, VA changing focus again for the umpteenth time is not an indictment of Linux. It is an indictment of an ill-concieved/executed business model. Would anyone say that web-commerce is a flop even though the dot-bomb went off?

    Second off, VA (in the hardware area) was well out of its league. Playing with the big boys means you get the crap beat out of you on occasion. I had the chance to compete against VA a number of times, and most of the time we won, in part due to VA not knowing how the hardware was really going to be used.

    Third off, in software, who the F*** is VA? What do they have? Why should I risk placing my data on Sourceforge, as VA is in trouble, and the ownership of that data would be in question during bankruptcy proceedings? The ASP model as promolguated by several types over the last several years is so full of horse puckey as a business model, it deserves a rapid anonymous burial. Several friends went to CA to seek their fortune building up ASPs, only to have dot-bomb wipe out any value/confidence in their product, and leave them with no ability to make money.

    So where the hell does that leave VA?

    1) need a real business plan fast. For this you have to hire grown ups. Sorry folks, but the vast majority of 18-35 year old kids have not brought a sustainable business to market, and grown it year after year. Those that have, have grey hair (voice of experience).

    2) find a buyer fast. There is cachet in the brand name. Sell yourself to IBM. Or Compaq/HP. Let them figure out the business portion for you.

    3) Ch 7/11. Well, it would be horrible to see this route, but it could come to this if debt is in the picture.

    The market is tough. It is brutal. It is unforgiving. Some may protest the capitalistic nature of this analysis saying it ain't fair.

    Welcome to the real world. Is the Antelope brought down by the lion going to argue fairness? Will the lion care?

    Reality check: Life is cruel. It is not easy. You must struggle to survive. Fairness is an illusory concept developed by humans. Great in discourse so we dont kill each other, but not relevant for most capitalist societies.

    VA will not survive if it does not learn how to compete. Pure and simple. Doesnt mean a thing for Linux. If you hire experience, you often get good results. If you apply patronage, you get a VA. Or an SGI.

    If anyone asked me what to do with VA, I would think real hard about a niche that they could make money in. Slashdot is a name, a brand. It has value. Think about deploying Slashdot internally at companies as a searchable weblog community builder. It is an enabler of free flow of information which is needed at many companies.

    Sure, some geek can download Slashcode and set it up. As much as you may believe in open source providing freedom, ask yourself if you are giving away all of the value that you can provide, for free. If this is true then you need to think carefully as to how to make money off of it.

    No folks, GPL is not the be-all-end-all. You have to build value and brand around it to make it work, as people will buy value, and will buy brands. GPL is not an IP destroyer. It just doesn't fit well as the central theme of the business plan. Sure you can do GPL, but you damned well better have a way to pay your programmers in the end. Some of them have families, and need to eat.

    So in the end, you have to build value. A value proposition. Something customers actually want. The last thing (actually one of the dumbest things) that a company wants to do is build a product, toss it over the wall, and hope that someone will buy it. This is the better mousetrap concept, and folks, it doesnt work.

    If it did, then explain why all those Sun servers are out there, when they suck in comparison to other stuff. Has nothing to do with system quality. Has a great deal to do with branding, value proposition, etc.

    VA needs to ask very carefully: "What is it that our customers want? What market niche do we wish to play in? What expertise do we have that will enable us to bring a product to market that customers will buy, and will enable us to survive and possibly even grow?"

    I havent heard anyone there try to answer this question. VA needs a grey hair in there now, steering the company. Larry, sorry, but you need to step aside. Find someone with a clue, who knows how to turn companies around, and who wants a challenge.

    Dont go the SGI route of "strategy X du jour will save us... no it didnt? Ok, layoffs and move to strategy Y to save us.... no? oh ..." They are at the end of their cash, maybe a quarter+ left for them. Dont go that route. Park the egos. The company goes under if you cannot.
  • ...Originally called VA Research anyways?

    Heh...any guesses on the severity rating this'll get on FuckedCompany?

    C-X C-S

  • Here we go... (Score:2, Interesting)

    In a relativistic sense, this could be bad for Slashdot - the website. However, if CmdrTaco and the others who run this site really love doing it, I can't imagine them not figuring out another way to support this, or some other site with a similar purpose. You have to remember that it is the people who made this site in the first place, and the thousands of people who come here every day, that make this site what it is.

    I don't mean to sound "peppy" or anything, but let's be realistic, rather than freaking out because a company ruled by suits (which all companies are) makes a decision that sheds a negative light upon the marketability of Slashdot, or of Linux. Yeah, the suits probably never understood Linux - they don't teach OS design and the fundamentals of software engineering at schools of management (unless it is a really odd school). And frankly, if their hearts aren't in it (yeah, sappy again), then why the hell should we want their help, and why should we bitch when they jump ship? I come to Slashdot every day, and post very rarely. I would be very sad to see it go, but if this site dies because VA {ARGV0} no longer supports it, it isn't entirely the fault of VA - this site existed well before VA was a glint in the eye of someone, and will exist long after if we keep our heads. And for God's sake, don't worry about how this will affect Linux's development or acceptance. Clued individuals who need the power of Linux already use Linux, and they aren't going to suddenly use Windows (which they can't work with for whatever reason) because Linux suddenly doesn't have much (or any) presence on Wall Street.
  • by Not A Democrat (448542) on Wednesday October 31, 2001 @12:50PM (#2502999) Homepage
    One thing that these companies did not realize just a few years ago is that the supply of venture capital is limited. They can not keep on losing money for as long as they want. One thing they should know is that a large change in direction in this stage of a company's life doesn't reassure investors, it scares them.

    VA looked like a company that was devoted to a buzz-word, "open-source", rather than to a goal or a business plan. They went out and made expensive acquisitions that had nothing at all to do with their core business. They didn't need to support a pile of open-source developers, and they had no use at all for Sourceforge, or Slashdot or the rest of Andover. Those seemed to be vanity moves with little effort to focus their business or make money.

    Their more recent moves look like the last, desperate actions of a dying company. Eliminating their core business basically meant giving up any hope of becoming profitable, in favour of slowly wasting away. Now they want to put big advertisements all over Slashdot because it is losing too much money. Watch most of those ads be for ThinkGeek or OSDN and wonder why.

    Way back when, VA appeared to be a sound company, with a well-executed business plan. We all had big hopes that they would be the ones to break through and show that you could make a profit with Linux. Then they went on a completely pointless shopping spree and forget about what they did best. Now, it seems very fitting that their name is VA, which is French for "go", because they are quickly going away.

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