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Sun Microsystems

On the Record: Scott McNealy 335

Posted by michael
from the don't-want-to-go-on-the-cart dept.
Sequoia writes "There's a worthwhile interview with Sun CEO Scott McNealy at sfgate. I've always had a hard time seeing how Sun has any long-term staying power. I'm still skeptical, but I was able read why Scott thinks he can be successful, 'execution.' He sounds like a hitman! Like any good hitman, Scott seems uncomfortable with his feelings, or at least he doesn't want to talk about them. 'First of all, I don't get paid to feel.' Sure you do, dude. The best decisions come from the integration of feeling and thought. If feelings don't matter, you can by replaced by a computer. He does a beautiful job putting Dell in his place. 'Michael Dell is the greatest spare parts distributor out there. He'll get you a piston ring or a carburetor or a crank shaft at a really low cost.' But, uhhh, isn't that execution? Scott's international perspective is a breath of fresh air. 'Yes. So global companies grow globally. Shouldn't India be a little upset that we have most of their software programmers here?' Heh."
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On the Record: Scott McNealy

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  • What the hell... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:13PM (#6958411)
    What's the deal with this article summary? Some random person comments on his comments? Only slightly better than an editor doing it.
  • sun (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:13PM (#6958414)
    do we like or hate sun this week?
    • Re:sun (Score:5, Funny)

      by kennyj449 (151268) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:50PM (#6958584)
      The sun is outside; it's all bright and stuff. Geeks stay indoors for a reason. So yah, I'd say we hate sun this week.
      • Re:sun (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yessss... we hates the nasty sun! It burns us! We must stay in the caves with our precious!

        [If you turn your head and squint, there's a profound analogy to Intellectual Property law in there.]
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It is ironic and funny to watch McNealy trashing Dell when McNealy's own company, Sun, is a distributor of Dell computers. Like many companies, Sun has a special purchase program for employees who wish to buy a PC. The supplier for this program at Sun is Dell!

      Neither Sun nor Dell gives a hoot about American employees. The OEM for Dell is Taiwanese companies, and Sun hires mainly H-1Bs from India or Taiwan.

    • Re:sun (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nucleon500 (628631)
      I'm not really knowledgable about most of what Sun does, but they have been capitolizing on SCO's FUDfest against Linux, and that kinda leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
  • by The AtomicPunk (450829) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:20PM (#6958452)
    While I personally have my doubts, I still run into plenty of people out there that NEED to hear that you run on Sun, Solaris, Oracle, EMC, etc. in order to take you seriously.

    With that in mind, I've been eyeing their newest dual Xeons. Best of both worlds. :)
  • scott mcnealy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by corz (409850) * on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:24PM (#6958466) Homepage
    What a strange guy... Every time he is interviewed he immediately goes into some super-defensive mode. They weren't attacking him, but he is quick to interrupt and apparently likes the "high school debate team" type situation:
    "
    A: To what kind?

    Q: Industry standards.

    A: What does industry standard mean? Define industry standard.
    "
    No wonder the other three founders are all gone.
    • Re:scott mcnealy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:48PM (#6958574)
      Personally, I thought that particular question was vague and insulting. So I would also like to know, what the hell is an industry standard. Especially concerning enterprise solutions, where Sun, IBM, and HP are the biggest players. I would hardly call x86 an industry standard in that field. He should have asked that question to someone other than McNealy.

      Sure, he was a bit defensive in the interview, but then again, which CEO wouldn't be? Did you expect him to say "Sorry, I realize we're fucked in the post-bubble economy"?

      $5.7 billion in reserves is a good buffe, for them to change their strategy and get out of the funk.
      • I would hardly call x86 an industry standard in that field.

        Agreed..

        x86 is a standard in the same way that Herpes is a standard.

    • I thought the following exchange was pure gold:

      Q: You talked about the beauty of the Darwinian marketplace and right now the market is beating you up. So we're trying to figure out the disconnect between how great you're saying your company is and the negative view of the market. (Editor's note: Like many technology companies, Sun's stock has been hammered in the past three years. Its shares closed down a penny at $3.92 on Friday, compared with a high of $63.47 in August 2000).

      A: Nine years ago, I got

      • Re:scott mcnealy (Score:3, Insightful)

        by uradu (10768)
        Scott is a moron who enters every interview with this smug feeling of superiority, half the time not realizing that he's the joke. His often open contempt for others--in particular interviewers--makes it all the more pathetic.
    • He thinks that people don't cheat at golf. Apparently he has never heard of the Mulligan (or the foot wedge for that matter).

      It's not just that. He also manages to reduce capitalism down to a 2 paragraph summary and state that that's all there is to it. This interview shows that McNealy is an idealist with his blinders on. Take his opinions with a grain of salt, as he is not living in the real world.

      -a
  • Who's with me that that level of commentary is really unnecessary in posting a story like this? Couldn't the "editors" have cut that down a bit?
    • It wouldn't have been so bad if it was at least coherant.
    • ...it doesn't matter what you submit, the goal is having the longest and most provocative comment on the Slashdot main page. Extra credit is given for extended rants on continuations the story page, but at a lesser rate than for comments on the main page.

      Slashdot Warlording would be an amusing thesis paper subject for someone trying to kill some sociology credits.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:24PM (#6958469)
    'm still skeptical, but I was able read why Scott thinks he can be successful, 'execution.' He sounds like a hitman! Like any good hitman, Scott seems uncomfortable with his feelings,

    Executing on a business plan is called execution. It's a standard business expression, although a tad dot-commish. No need for retarded hitmen analogies ...
    • by lushmore (41101) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:48PM (#6958573)
      Executing on a business plan is called execution. It's a standard business expression, although a tad dot-commish.

      'Execution' is a word executives use to divert blame from themselves. If a company or team is unsuccessful, "poor execution" is the reason, even though a bad or unrealistic business plan may have been at fault.

      When an executive says from the beginning that execution is the key, it means the business plan is shaky. If he actually had a good business plan, he would have said something that sounds like "we can't lose."
      • Executive... Execute...

        Hmmm... they sound kind of similar don't they. Maybe there is a reason for that. May be an executive executes things.

        Execute -- To put into effect
        Executive -- Of, relating to, capable of, or suited for carrying out or executing
      • Patton said it best "Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy."

        Business plan = Strategy
        Execution = Tactics

        The dot com's failed because they were mostly formed out of greed by untalented opportunists with an eye on getting rich.

        Scott cares more about creating something real, products, employment, and true technology... something to which we geeks should show a little homage.

        So if you are going to start a company, it's not your business plan that's g
    • No need for retarded hitmen analogies ...

      You must be new here.

  • by The Monster (227884) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:24PM (#6958470) Homepage
    I care more about execution than I did in the old days. In the old days, vision was really important. Today, you've got to have execution with vision.
    This is the same thing you hear from football coaches when people talk about the plays the call. Instead of admitting they called the wrong play, they want to talk about how the play was executed. Far more important to me was this:
    Obviously, Microsoft is not operating on market discipline or they couldn't raise their prices with declining unit volumes in the face of post-bubble. They couldn't bundle the houseboat with the sport utility vehicle like they do with Windows and Office.

    That's the only thing we need to worry about. All the rest is simple -- everybody trying to make their own case.

    He's saying that Microsoft isn't evil because they write crappy software; they're evil because they aren't being punished by the market for it.
    • by bfinuc (162950) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:29PM (#6958765) Homepage Journal
      His remarks about libertarianism don't fit his remarks about MS not being punished by the market. Obviously, in his view, the markets have failed in Microsoft's case. So how can he believe in them? It doesn't make sense.

      But he is right about Dell being a distributor, not a manufacturer. I love when business mags publish stuff about what a great manufacturer Dell is. They manufacture _nothing_ except maybe Powerpoints and advertising material. Chances are, your Dell equipment was never even seen by a Dell employee.

      This will eventually catch up to Dell because the company adds so little value. But that won't kill the Wintel standard. Only the death of MS can do that, and the hardware side would survive anyway. The death of Sun will kill Sun's stuff though. So comparing Dell's demise with Sun'S doesn't make a lot of sense.

      Nealy is right about execution. Make a profit this quarter. Repeat. That is more important than "vision".

      • > Nealy is right about execution. Make a profit this quarter. Repeat. That is more important than "vision".

        Except there are too many companies that make the mistake of only worrying about the next quarter, and forget about where they'll be standing in 2 or 5 years. That's what happened to a lot of the dot coms. They made a profit for the next quarter because the market was nuts. They lacked any way to make profits for the next few quarters after that - but neglected to put much effort into considerin
    • "Obviously, Microsoft is not operating on market discipline or they couldn't raise their prices with declining unit volumes in the face of post-bubble"

      He's saying that Microsoft isn't evil because they write crappy software; they're evil because they aren't being punished by the market for it.

      No. He's saying Microsoft is clearly a monopoly and that this proves it. He'd just said this:

      "Market discipline is very aggressive, very strong and very precise in who it clobbers -- those who don't perform. The
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:27PM (#6958478)
    and got done and there were still no +1 comments.

    He sounds a little defensive, but that's understandable. He's been beat up over the last couple of years. Everyone's saying no-one needs Sun and it's a dinosaur. "All the talented people are leaving the company".

    But they have over $5 billion in the bank and their line-up is really second to none. Dell can't match their highly tailored line-up. They've got a killer community in java and tons of other stuff coming out.

    Sun's still useful for some things, and they got cash to burn. They have a marketplace and they have a line-up. What more do you want?
    • Not for nothing, but a customer who wants to buy their "line-up"?

      Sun was great in its time, but their value proposition is rapidly vanishing. If McNeally spent more time running the company and less time honing his zingers, he would have a growing business instead of a shrinking one.
    • In the fast moving technology industry, new companies are born and old companies die all the time. I've always viewed comments refering to how much a company has in the bank as an indicator of its inevitable decline, such as the previous poster notes:

      "But they have over $5 billion in the bank..."

      Granted the poster mentions other good qualities such as talent pool, etc., but if you have to lead in with how much they have in the bank, its never a good sign. Just because they have a lot of $$$ does not ne
  • Why can he do something about those stock prices? Lashing out at Dell and offering "amnesty" to IBM users to switch is all well and good, but none of this fixes what's broken at Sun. Where's the plan of action, man?

    More Information [66.199.135.127]
  • Dell and computers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:34PM (#6958512) Journal
    Michael Dell is the greatest spare parts distributor out there. He'll get you a piston ring or a carburetor or a crank shaft at a really low cost.

    Steve Jobs made a similar crack when someone asked him to compare Apple to other computer makers like Dell and Compaq. He said something to the effect of, "Dell and Compaq are part of the distribution chain for Intel and Microsoft, like CompUSA is. They're not computer manufacturers like Apple or Sun."

    • by mec (14700) <mec@shout.net> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:54PM (#6958598) Journal
      This is an age old marketing issue in the computer industry. Here's my take on it.

      A "solution" is, well, something that actually satisifies all the customer's needs. Also known as a "system".

      A "product" is something that a customer buys with a defined feature set and just does what the seller says that it does. Also known as a "box".

      In McNealy's view of Sun's market, there are two ways to set up a data center or a big web site or whatever he's calling his market these days:

      (1) Buy a "solution" from Sun which comes with hardware, software, service agreements, and a damn big price tag. Single-vendor integration all the way.

      (2) Buy a bunch of "products" like x86 hardware + a Linux distro + a database and then hire some people to put it all together with in-house support. For example, Google.

      What McNealy does not get about open source is that it lets us work on the "products" (kernel, gcc, apache, et cetera) and still let companies sell the integrated "solutions" (like IBM and Red Hat enterprise support). Sun's competition is not Dell; it is other complete "solution providers".

      This whole argument is obscured by the fact that most people's experience with computers (including mine) is with personal computers; and for personal computers, Dell, Compaq, et al, do sell complete solutions.
      • I think the point both Jobs and McNealy were making (probably tongue in cheek in both cases) is that nobody at Dell is concerned about what a "computer" ought to be. They have been phenomenally succesful at transforming parts from a variety of suppliers into computers on people's desks, but their innovation is almost entirely in different fronts of operations management. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Apple and Sun, and Alienware, for that matter, define the nature of what they sell in a way t
        • I think the point both Jobs and McNealy were making (probably tongue in cheek in both cases) is that nobody at Dell is concerned about what a "computer" ought to be. They have been phenomenally succesful at transforming parts from a variety of suppliers into computers on people's desks, but their innovation is almost entirely in different fronts of operations management. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Apple and Sun, and Alienware, for that matter, define the nature of what they sell in a way t
          • by spinlocked (462072) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @08:04PM (#6959927)
            And this leads to an obvious question. Dell is able to sell products that meet millions of customers needs. They certainly sell more computers than Apple and they certainly beat Sun on desktops. So what is the innovation that Apple and Sun are bringing to the table? After all, with almost no R&D, Dell is able to sell a highly competitive product at a lower cost. I don't think there are too many Dell customers who thought they were settling for less.

            They're shifting a commodity product. Classic economics: high-volume, low margin vs. low-volume high-margin, sure Sun don't sell many F15K's but they do sell a significant number of smaller boxes in the 8 to 24 CPU bracket. List price they make over 90% margin on every box they sell - as do HP and IBM. Simple, there's room for both. Dell are piggy-backing off of intel's R&D, Sun invest billions in R&D and recoup the investment over the longer term, on boxes which are as scalable as they are upgradable (with faster CPU's etc.) Sun Enterprise boxes, the 3000-6500 are still holding a amazing amount of their value 6 years after they came out, on a chassis which will accept 167MHz-400MHz CPUs. Just have a look on ebay.

            Many problems can be solved by clustering cheap boxes together to achieve parallelism, some problems can't. Some customers need ultra reliable, 64bit big iron boxes with masses of storage. Many don't. Most slashdotters have never experienced high-end enterprise computing, a few have.

            I've said it before, I'll say it again - the day Sun stop investing in SPARC/Solaris is the day I sell my stock - I'm not at all happy with the Xeon box precedent, but Sun have had short lived product lines like this before, I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole.
    • That's just funny stuff, since neither guy can put his company in the same financial condition as Dell and both continue losing floor space both in the data center and the workstation space to Dell. Michael Dell has to just sit back and laugh at these guys, if he's not in the same league why are they obsessed with him and his parts distributorship.

      I bet Scott sees penguins in his nightmares...

  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:36PM (#6958522) Homepage Journal
    So global companies grow globally. Shouldn't India be a little upset that we have most of their software programmers here?' Heh."

    The Indian government has been concerned about the "brain drain" since 1990 or so. Atleast that's around the time they started acknowledging the fact that it was a serious problem.

    The government puts in a lot of money into the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Regional Engineering Colleges. Tuition fees and on-campus living expenses are greatly subsidized for students who are admitted to these colleges based on national-level exams (like the IIT-JEE believed to be the toughest [educationtimes.com] exam at it's level in the world).

    A large percentage of graduates from these colleges look for higher salaries and better jobs outside of India: in the US and Europe or Asia, and given the huge amount of resources that the government (and tax payers) pumped into their education, it naturally gets the jitters when students choose to work abroad.

    The Indian government has lately taken to giving pep talks in colleges, in addition to distributing booklets explaning the effect of brain drain on the local economy.

    I think brain-drain is essentially an outcome of globalization. Technology, irrespective of where it is developed benefits the world as a whole.

    :wq

    • Personally, I think a compromise is reachable; We can stop taking their best engineers if they stop taking our development jobs.
    • H1-Bs unecessary. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:04PM (#6958637)
      Cheap labor flows into the US because the rich and powerful want cheap labor. There is little to prevent capital outflows from the United States to address an disequilibrium. Regardless, American companies, since Reagan and Nixon, have subverted the American immigration laws in order to crush unions and discipline labor. Capital is essentially squeezing workers. Real purchasing power for the Average American family is down since 1973, growth rate is down, savings rate is down. The winners are the millionaires. If American companies want to outsource, that's one thing. We should tax that. But to deliberatly target American workers for special competition from guest workers is wrong.

      Here's the problem. Programmer makes 80K a year. Boss thinks, "gee, I can hire a guest worker for 50K a year instead". So. Boss gets 30K more a year, guest workter gets $50K a year. And American
      looses his job. Yes. World is technicly better off. But American workers are NOT better off. What's worse, the American worker paid for the road that that the foreign worker now drives to work and pays for the school that the foreign workers kids now go to. By the way, we're cutting back on Advanced Placement classes for more spending on English as a second language.

      Few would say we need to cut out immigration all together; but the growth of immigration is out of control. Some people should be allowed in. But to massively expand the H1-B program just because the richest people in American want to pay less in wages in crazy. The few who do come in should have full rights as workers, including the right to change jobs easily, be on a citizship track and not be forced to pay lawyers lots of money to fill out complex paperwork.

      You mention the Indian government's relationship to it's students. Yup, most are subsidized by the
      government. Most Americans have student debt up to their eyeballs. It costs a lot of money to live in Silicon Valley. American workers deserve fair compenstation and not be targeted by special laws like the H1-B program.

      • Re:H1-Bs unecessary. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I modded you insightful because I believe most of what you have to say is dead-on. But I had to log out and come back as an AC to make one point -

        I disagree that the number of people coming in with decent paying jobs already guaranteed should be limited. I believe we should put no limit at all on the numbers, if they have minimum incomes that are higher than say, 80% of the population in the region of employment. That reduces downward pressure on wages and make sure that the immigrants are paying a good
      • There is considerable evidence that H-1Bs are unnecessary. First, IBM, as a matter of corporate policy, does not hire H-1B workers unless they are applying for a position that requires a Ph.D. The Power4, which crushes the UltraSPARC III in performance, was not built with H-1B labor. Sun has a different policy. Sun hires many H-1Bs, and the UltraSPARC III was built with many H-1B workers.

        Here is another example. Remember the SPARC64 by Fujitsu? It too beats the pants off the UltraSPARC III. Yet, in

      • Re:H1-Bs unecessary. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by xyzzy (10685)
        I'm not sure your post even qualifies as rational.

        First of all, in your 2nd paragraph: yes, the American worker paid for the roads. But the H1-B workers don't have a get-out-of-jail-free card with respect to taxes. They pay just as much as native workers.

        Next, it has not been my observation over the last 14 years of working in the industry that H1-B workers are being paid less than native workers. I'm sure it's true in a few cases, but if it were true overall, salaries in those jobs would be declining
      • by LauraW (662560) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:52PM (#6959405)
        Regardless, American companies, since Reagan and Nixon, have subverted the American immigration laws in order to crush unions and discipline labor [....] But to massively expand the H1-B program just because the richest people in American want to pay less in wages in crazy.

        This is a wonderfully naive point of view that seems to be very common on Slashdot. While it might be true in some industries, it makes me think you don't have much experience with H1-B's at the higher levels of the tech industry. So I'm going on a rant....

        <rant>
        I was a manager at IBM for a couple of years, and in that time I think I hired two or three people on H1-B visas and helped one or two more apply for green cards. (With some overlap between the sets.) This was out of a group of abut a dozen people, so maybe a third of my team was on some sort of visa. The reasons had nothing to do with saving money or time. Instead, the reason was simple: a talent shortage.

        My group and the others at our site were feeding off the top of the programmer food chain, to borrow an analogy. We needed engineers who knew the ins and outs of Java and/or C++, had a good grasp of OOD, and were able to figure out the details of standards documents and implement them, or even to help write them in the first place. Just as important, we needed people who were smart and could learn new technologies and languages quickly.

        People like this were very hard to find at the height of the tech boom here in the Valley. When I was at IBM I and my group did a lot of interviewing, both on the phone and in person. It took up a lot of time. We got resumes from outside recruiters and we got a lot of transfer requests from other parts of the company. Even with all of those resumes, I still couldn't hire people as fast as I wanted to. Sure, there were lots of engineers available, but most of them just weren't that good. Truly talented "star" engineers are rare.

        When I found a star, I did what it took to hire them, even if they weren't a US citizen. H1-B paperwork is a royal PITA, as is getting approval from umpteen levels of management. (If you're a really bad person, you come back in the next life as an immigration lawyer.) It also costs a lot of money to sponsor someone for an H1. I think it was around $5,000 when you added up the application fees, lawyer's fees and so on, but I can't remember. Then you have to do the green card a year or so later, and it costs even more and has more paperwork.

        We definitely weren't saving money by hiring people on H1-B's. In addition to the legal fees and management time we spent on the visas, we were paying the H1 folks the same salaries we'd pay anyone else. Every few months we'd informally rank all the employees at the site and make sure the salaries lined up with the rankings, with absolutely no concern over visa status. The better, more productive engineers got paid more, period. There were definitely senior engineers who happened to be on H1's who got paid more than more junior (but still bright) engineers without much experience. I didn't see any correlation with visa status, except maybe that I never made any college hires of people on H1's. (It wouldn't have been worth the expense of flying them over here for an interview; the same thing applies to out-of-town junior-level US people.)

        Many people think that market conditions have changed in the last few years and that H1s are now mostly obsolete. I think that may be true at some levels of the industry. But even with all the layoffs in the last couple of years, extremely bright "star" engineers are still hard to find. For an example, look at all the engineering openings at Google [google.com]. You'd think that in a down economy with lots of engineers out of work, they'd be able to hire people as quickly as they wanted to. If they wanted just anybody, that might be true. But they're also feeding off the top of the food chain; they only want

      • Rubish coward. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jotaeleemeese (303437)
        Some USians here forget something very important: the US education system sucks.

        Yes, the US has some impressive institutions, leaders in the world. But all the others are pure mediocrity (and the syteme of majors and minors in University is a waste).

        Educated foreign workers are required in the US because you don't have enough talented people and luckily for your economy and your society, your companies are willing to stand the quasi racist, protectionist barking in order to bring those workers to the US.
      • Re:H1-Bs unecessary. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jesterzog (189797)

        (Disclaimer: I'm not American.)

        Programmer makes 80K a year. Boss thinks, "gee, I can hire a guest worker for 50K a year instead". So. Boss gets 30K more a year, guest workter gets $50K a year. And American looses his job.

        Why can't American accept 50K instead of 80K? If a foreigner in America can live on it then an American should certainly be able to.

        The cost of living in the US has become disproportionately high compared with the rest of the world. People overseas who move to the US often

    • by abhikhurana (325468) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:23PM (#6958735)
      The result of this growing disparity between the haves and have nots. I mean everyone acknowledges that brain drain happens because the conditions in some other country are much better than conditions in one's home country, which used to be the case in India up until 90s, but now I think the process has slowed. I know that there are a lot of slashdotters who oppose Indians taking their jobs, but the point is that this is the only area where Indians were able to compete with US, in the face of such a huge disparity. Did you know that US pays a 3 Billion dollars subsidy to its cotton farmers every year. And do you know the number of cotton farmers in US? 25000. Which means a subsidy of 120,000 USD per farmer per year, enough to hire two software engineers. These farmers then compete with farmers of countries like India in the international market whose per capita income is 500 USD per year . That is the irony of the situation that these poaching practices killed almost all the industries of the developing countries, and now the only capital they are left with is their people. (India used to be the biggest producer of cotton once upon a time btw). So now we are seeing them fighting back with the only resource they have. How come slashdotters can make societies to ban H1Bs but can't make societies to ask their sentors to cut down the subsidies being given to already rich farmers and maybe invest this money to make education cheaper or start some other development activity? That is the tragedy of US, that every economist says these policies are bad, every senator knows that as well, but majority of the people are not aware because it doesn't affect them directly. All I am saying is don't fight what you see in front. Spare some thought for the causes behind the problem as well.
      • > These farmers then compete with farmers of countries like India in
        > the international market whose per capita income is 500 USD per year

        Well, it's an unfortunate outcome of the continual agricultural battle between the US and Europe. They're constantly one-upping each other with protectionism or subsidies, meanwhile wreaking havoc with the "lesser" players.
      • Amen, brother. I'm a white-anglo-saxon-US-citizen, and I think those subsidies are disgusting (btw, I heard they were $4bn!). They make my skin crawl every time I see those "Fabric of our lives" commercials on TV (I don't know if you live in the US, but we regularly see high-production-value ads from the cotton industry on prime time TV -- as if those actually make people buy more cotton shirts!).

        At any rate, it's the worst form of protectionism, and it comes even more directly on the back of the US taxp
  • A great Sunday read (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tweakmeister (638831) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:38PM (#6958528) Homepage
    I thought it was a great article. You can read inbetween the lines a bit and see the humor in many of his comments.

    He's a CEO, not a governor in-the-running. I think his answers were suprisingly candid...and made for a good over read.
  • Dell's Spare Parts (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Xargle (165143)
    Has he looked at his own product range recently? Dell and Sun use the same manufacturer for the v65x etc. Dell with a different bezel, same "spare parts".
  • Sun won't die. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JusTyler (707210) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:39PM (#6958538) Homepage
    I don't believe Sun will die. Claiming they will would be like claiming "IBM is going to die" in 1990. It might have seemed like an intelligent thing to say, but too many background issues ensured it didn't happen.

    In fact, Sun and IBM might become a whole lot more similar in the years to come.

    Currently they're both companies that have a lot of proprietary mid/high-end server and mainframe equipment out in the field with specialized engineers ready to maintain them. They both have a very large internal focus on research and information management (Sun has its own 'SunLibrary', Google for more information), and both are renowned for developing new technologies which are then "stolen" or "borrowed" by other companies.

    Sun and IBM also do a lot of research and provide a lot to disciplines that run alongside their product line. For example, Sun did a lot of work with usability (that's where Jakob Nielsen came from), whereas IBM has done a lot of work on information retrieval and search engines (Google for 'ibm web fountain' [google.com]).

    Even if Sun's main market dries up, replaced by Apple XServes and Linux clusters, this will be no more devastating to them as IBM losing out in the x86 market in the late 80's and early 90's.

    Sun has a lot of brainpower, a lot of money, and partnerships (Oracle is the latest) to ensure that they'll continue for many years as a research and technology company, if not as a "consumer facing" company.
  • Linus said some time ago that: "Quite frankly, Sun is doomed. And it has nothing to do with their engineering practices or their coding style." (URL: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/transhumantech/messa ge/9453)

    I did take that with grain of salt till I read this interview. I wouldn't want this guy to wash my car, let alone be CEO of Sun.
  • by dprice (74762) <daprice@@@pobox...com> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:43PM (#6958552) Homepage
    Where I work, we just sold several Sun servers at a fraction of what we bought them for, and we used some of that money to buy a dual Xeon box for running Linux. We run Electonic Design Automation (EDA) applications, and we find that they run faster on Linux, and transitioning our design environments to Linux has been fairly painless. The system uptimes are comparable, and the total cost of ownership is lower with Linux. The faster runtime on Linux also lets us get more out of the EDA software licenses that we purchase. About 4 years ago, Microsoft tried to push its way into the EDA market, but that flopped because most of the existing applications ran on UNIX-type OSes, so the transition was too difficult. Now EDA vendors are flocking to Linux at the expense of Sun.
    • And I forgot to mention... when EDA vendors come to visit to show you their latest software, they bring a laptop running Linux, and they give you a demo right then and there. In the past, they could just show you some slides, and then they would have to convince you to load a trial copy of their software on your Sun server. One often doesn't have the time and resources to bother installing every new version of software from every vendor that visits. The flexibility of the Linux solution is unmatched by Su
      • Personally, now that the tools are on Linux I much prefer conducting workshops on a handful of Linux laptops over giving passive demos "at" customers. It's more hands-on and realistic. There's also no side-stepping new bugs; it helps exercise all the capabilities in context. :-)

        Expect to see more of that "buy a car, not it's parts" metaphor that Scott used...
    • I can relate to that. We've got a $1000 Linux box (AMD/Intel) that runs faster than a $12000 Sun box.
      I almost feel sorry for Sun because this is one market they are going to lose pretty quickly, unless they drop their prices by 90%.

      We've set up an openmosix cluster and the linux native tools (Synplicity, ModelSim are two examples) migrate around the cluster very well so you don't have to be mindful of which machine you're running on.
      We got a 3GHz machine and effectively gave everyone with a linux desktop
  • by osgeek (239988)
    If feelings don't matter, you can by replaced by a computer.

    How is this in any real way true?

    More articles, less whimsical opinionated fluff.
    • 'Feeling' does not necessarily mean emotion, it can also mean gut instinct, intuition, alogical value judgment and the like, all of which are useful abilities to have for a CEO. Computers can automate applied logic, but they can't convincingly simulate any of the above 'feeling' type abilities, which is why a computer wouldn't be a good replacement for a human CEO. Unless, of course, the human CEO was devoid of those abilities in the first place, which is what I think the above was getting at.

  • Seems like Sun is quite similar to Apple. I believe they almost merged at one time. Having used Solaris it sure would be sweet if Sun slapped OSX on their machines ... ah I guess that's just a fantasy. Seems like the ego of Mr. McNealy wouldn't allow it ...
  • by Doktor Memory (237313) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:47PM (#6958570) Journal
    I so needed some 19-year-old, unemployed slashdotter telling me that good business decisions come from the heart.

    Oh wait, no, I didn't.
  • Hey Michael... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anarkhos (209172) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:51PM (#6958589)
    I could have done without the editorial.

    I'm surprised you didn't mention other thoughts in your head, like whether or not you like twinkies.
  • If you're interested in what "Execution" means in a business sense, a couple of interesting books to read are Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't [amazon.com] and Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done [amazon.com].

    The former is an interesting outside-looking-in study of what happened to turn an ok company into a really successful company with sustained growth.

    The latter is inside-looking-back on what it takes to lead a company that can get things done.

  • McNealy on Privacy (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ellen Spertus (31819) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @04:58PM (#6958613) Homepage
    For more on McNealy's anti-privacy advocacy, see http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/05/29/14 32247&mode=thread&tid=158 [slashdot.org] and http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/10/12/003242 &mode=thread&tid=102 [slashdot.org]. I also like the Doctor Fun [ibiblio.org] cartoon.
    • I also remember an interview by a German magazine a couple of years ago, in which Scott went on a loony rant about how Europeans are too obsessed with privacy and data security and how they should get with the program and take the US as a model. He said he certainly makes no secret of his salary--to which the interviewer smuggly replied that as CEO of a public company he certainly doesn't have much choice. How about disclosing his medical records instead?
  • by antizeus (47491) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:03PM (#6958629)
    The best decisions come from the integration of feeling and thought. If feelings don't matter, you can by replaced by a computer.
    While I agree to some extent on the value of emotion in decision making, I think the poster is neglecting the value of intuition. Many people do. As far as I know, computers lack this facility.
  • by jensend (71114) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:12PM (#6958677)
    We really didn't need Sequoia's "editorial" cluttering up the news here. People should not be able to have their biased opinions posted as part of the story and thus circumvent the whole comment system and get prominent placement of their views without moderation.

  • The initial poster's comments are rather childish--while this is a good article to discuss, did we really need to hear Sequoia's inane opinions glommed on to the topic?
  • by reporter (666905) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:32PM (#6958802) Homepage
    The article [sfgate.com] has two key quotes. Below is the first key quote.
    We've got the No. 1 64-bit computing architecture out there.
    Is SPARC the #1 computing architecture? Let us review the matter. SPARC is not #1 in either volume or dollars. The x86 architecture is #1 even if most engineers do not consider it to be an optimum architecture.

    Perhaps, McNealy is referring to #1 in the sense of #1 performance. Again, the #1 in performance is the triad: Power architecture (with implementations being Power4, Power4+, Power5), the Itanium architecture (with implementations being Itanium 2, 3, etc.), and the x86 architecture (with implementations being the Pentium 4, etc.). A quick review of the performance stats at SPEC [spec.org] should clarify any confusion. The SPARC is among the worst processors in terms of performance.

    Below is the second key quote.

    Shouldn't India be a little upset that we have most of their software programmers here?

    Compared to IBM, Sun is #1 -- in the sense that Sun has more H-1B employees. IBM, as a matter of corporate policy, refuses to hire any H-1B workers unless they are applying for a job that requires a Ph.D. The Power4, which handily beats the UltraSPARC III in performance, was built almost exclusively by American citizens or permanent residents. No H-1Bs.

    Perhaps, McNealy was referring to the number of H-1Bs when he was talking about the SPARC being the supposed #1 computing architecture.

    ... from the desk of the reporter [geocities.com]

    • McNealy said #1 64-Bit architecture. Comparing its sales volume to the x86 is meaningless since that is a 32 bit architecture. The claim that x86 is #1, is also false: ARM is #1 in terms of volumes, by a long way since pretty much every embedded device these days seems to come with some kind of ARM processor.

      So which is the #1 64 bit architecture out there? Well, PA-RISC and Alpha are systems which HP is trying to replace with Itaniums. Shame really, they were both very good systems. The Opteron is outse [theregister.co.uk]

  • We own our entire software suite. We can do software indemnification. We don't pay any royalties.

    This quote sounds like it came from an employee of SCO--not Sun! Is this not a restatement of Darl McBride's rip on IBM and all other GNU/Linux resellers/distributors? I thought Sun still contributing to GNOME and shipping some system running Linux--thus themselves being a GNU/Linux distributor. And if they aren't paying royalties then why has SCO praised Sun for doing so?

    We have an intellectual property

  • Personally, I don't see Sun sticking it out for the long haul, it seems to me that there master plan is to usurp Microsoft by moving the PC into the server, then serving up desktops as needed. I really think that the industry will move in another direction--servers will slowly become obsolete as more and more of a servers work is spread over employees PCs.
    As PCs become more powerful and as storage becomes cheaper grid computing among offices will probably be way more efficient in the future. If you ne
  • by melted (227442) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:44PM (#6958903) Homepage
    His company's stock is way down in the toilet, his cash reserves are rapidly depleting, PC manufacturers are as close to eating into his 64bit marketshare as they've ever been, IBM is making him its bitch in the high-end market, yet his only concern is the market dominance of Microsoft.

    Simply amazing. Get REAL, Scott, come up with a valid VIABLE business plan and execute on it. With cheap mainstream 64 bit computing around the corner you gotta do better than you do these days and sell your crap at competitive prices.
  • totally off topic but this really is beginning to bug me now.

    this article was the most confusing read I've ever seen. the entire thing is in italics but only a third of it is relevant. the other 2 thirds is opinion of the submitter.

    CmdrTaco, what the hell is going on? in the last year things on slashdot have really gone to hell. Normally I would shout down someone making a post like this but its gone too far.

    We've seen numerous re-posts and even re-re-posts. the stories at times have been utterly ou
  • by penguin7of9 (697383) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:14PM (#6959154)
    McNealy is clearly a shrewd, profit-maximizing businessman, not someone who feels deeply about technology. He has told us this much: he "doesn't get paid to feel". He gets paid to maximize profit, by any legal means.

    That means, among other things, taking advantage of the SCO situation by telling people to buy Linux or Solaris from Sun so that they can't get sued by SCO.

    And you can see his current thinking in this quote:
    We have one of two developer communities left on the planet, (Microsoft) . Net being the other.
    Note the "we have", as in "Sun has". The guy obviously views Sun's ownership of Java as analogous to Microsoft's ownership of .NET. And right he is: for most practical purposes, Sun retains as much ownership of Java as Microsoft retains ownership of Windows.

    Linux or POSIX don't even enter into his thinking as platforms. He already thinks of the Linux and POSIX APIs as being irrelevant, supplanted by Java APIs, APIs that, by his own statement, Sun effectively owns.

    At least with Gates, people know exactly where he stands. McNealy is dangerous because some people actually believe his talk of openness and support of free software. But make no mistake: if it would help his business, the guy would clearly not hesitate a second to kill Linux or grab control of it. And that's just what he is trying to do, both with Java and with his SCO-related efforts.
  • The best decisions come from the integration of feeling and thought

    When emotions enter the equation of making critical decisions, 9 times out of 10, you will make a poor decision (that other time you were just damn lucky).

    Its a good thing good (successful) military commanders don't follow this highly flawed philosophy of using "feelings" to make decisions.

    You use experience, wisdom, logic and analysis to make good decisions. Feelings and emotions are best left at the door.
  • by Sequoia (54237) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:38PM (#6959300) Journal
    I'm surprised by the vehemence of the posts regarding my commentary. I've been reading /. for years. I really did think the first post was supposed to be provocative. It must be my autism. Point taken. In the unlikely event I have something to post in the future, I'll put any commentary where it can be moderated.

    Obviously Sun has accomplished a lot. It's an extremely successful business. DEC was another extremely successful business. 'Staying power' may not be important, or even desireable in today's economy.

    Still, it's sad to see how people as capable as Scott McNealy can be so preoccupied with hubris. In the interview he says, 'We need to be more aligned in terms of skill sets and we've got that with the new team. We've got exactly who I wanted in there to run the joint.' That's nice, but the shareholders may not want 'yes men' and 'yes women'.

    Cheers!
  • by Zhe Mappel (607548) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:23AM (#6961549)
    The brave, bold McNealy who begins the interview bragging about his warrior creed...

    I believe the beauty of the Darwinian capitalist market battles is that nobody gets -- I shouldn't say nobody -- very few people actually get physically injured.

    Market discipline is very aggressive, very strong and very precise in who it clobbers -- those who don't perform.

    And gloats over his pot of gold...
    We have $5.7 billion of cash in the bank. We didn't have that five years ago. We have generated positive cash flow from operations for 35 straight quarters.
    Only to end up pouting...

    Worker's comp and family leave -- there's just a million rules here. There's a million rules that make the cost of operating here just off the charts.
    Oh, that awful worker's comp! Oh, that horrible family leave! Can you believe the terrible things that our wonderful billionaires must put up with after a hard day of fighting their "Darwinian capitalist battles"? Imagine those lazy good-for-nothing employees wanting worker's comp or family leave; what nerve!

    Look, you poor oppressed prick; at least you didn't have to wear a bustier and French kiss Madonna.

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