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Caldera Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Leaked Memo Says Microsoft Raised $86 million for SCO 1279

Posted by michael
from the stalking-horse dept.
badzilla and numerous others wrote in with this: "Eric S. Raymond's Open Source site has a new Halloween memo. The Halloween X memo, which ESR says he received by email from an anonymous whistleblower inside SCO, appears to confirm Microsoft's alleged funding of SCO's anti-Linux initiative. And the actual dollar amounts are much larger than previously rumored!" The consultant is discussing his fee for bringing in this business, in the first few lines of the email.
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Leaked Memo Says Microsoft Raised $86 million for SCO

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  • by Liselle (684663) * <slashdot@liselleFREEBSD.net minus bsd> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:32AM (#8462635) Journal
    It's funny how the typos and bad grammar in the email lends credence to it. Looks like something I'd get from an exec at work! Well, minus the shady dealing with Microsoft, anyway. :P
  • by The I Shing (700142) * on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:33AM (#8462643) Journal
    Can't... type... reply... too... much... outrage... head... exploding...
  • by bc90021 (43730) * <bc90021 AT bc90021 DOT net> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:33AM (#8462649) Homepage
    Assuming this is an accurate and actual letter, how is it that a company can continue to do business in this manner? This company is not in the softwrae business anymore - it's in the lawsuit business. After all the happenings with Enron and WorldCom, how is it that this company, which has no real business plan (that's evident even outside the letter) attract customers or money?

    We should attach a motor to Adam Smith's grave. I'm guessing we're at about 100K RPM and climbing.
    • by kardar (636122) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:56AM (#8462975)
      My favorite Jesse Venture quote, or one of them: "You can't legislate stupidity".

      He was talking about people riding snowmobiles on thin ice, ignoring warnings from the weatherman, and then dying from falling into freezing water.

      But in this case, it would have to be the stupidity of the people who involve themselves in these meaningless pursuits of trying to immerse themselves in power.

      It seems to me, anyway, that these guys corresponding are fascinated with power, not with anything else. Just power. Probably because they don't think they have enough money in their bank accounts.

      Hopefully, they are in a minority - well, at least - this is not the way to be successful, and participating in this type of nonsense will only bring you and your family great misery - in the long run. Despite how successful these folks are in their own minds, their plan is just doomed to fail anyway - leak or no leak. Which means one thing... they are wasting their time, hence they are stupid. If they really cared about power and prestige and wealth, they wouldn't be wasting their time attacking Linux, which is innocent.

  • Paging the DoJ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zocalo (252965) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:33AM (#8462652) Homepage
    If this turns out to be genuine (and I'm sure ESR would have gone to great lengths to validate the document before going public), I can't think of better grounds for another anti-trust case. It's already on the Register [theregister.co.uk] too, and Groklaw can't be far behind. Let's draw attention to this smoking gun, shall we?
    • by base3 (539820) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:35AM (#8462675)
      Don't hold your breath. Remember that the current DoJ is the one that administered the slap on the wrist for the convicted monopolist's most recent infractions. Even if Kerry wins, I'm sure his administration can be bought, as well.
      • by ratamacue (593855) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:23AM (#8463294)
        When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things bought and sold are the legislators.

        -- P.J. O'Rourke
    • by nuffle (540687) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:43AM (#8462792)
      I'm sure ESR would have gone to great lengths to validate the document before going public


      Don't be so sure. According to ESR's statement: I cannot certify its authenticity, but I presume that IBM's, Red Hat's, Novell's, AutoZone's, and Daimler-Chryler's lawyers can subpoena the original.

      So take it with a grain of salt. I'm sure ESR thinks it's authentic, but until someone can confirm its authenticity, don't believe it. In the end, it's better to be skeptical of surprising evidence than to instantly accept false claims.
    • Re:Paging the DoJ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jerk City Troll (661616) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:47AM (#8462850) Homepage
      and I'm sure ESR would have gone to great lengths to validate the document before going public

      Wait, are you being sarcastic? I can't tell.

      And if you're not, exactly how would ESR go about doing that, hmm? If he knows the identity of whoever leaked it, he would have to reveal that in court. As far as I know, the source is anonymous. Is it possible to go to the investors and get the numbers on how much was contributed? Is that knowledge even public yet?

  • by HMA2000 (728266) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:33AM (#8462653)
    For $86 million Microsoft has created an enourmous amount of chaos. There is little doubt they will make their $86M back on additional because of the FUD the SCO crap has caused.

    That doesn't make it any less sneaky, underhanded and evil though.
    • by The One KEA (707661) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:35AM (#8462678) Journal
      I will concede that there has been some upheaval and surprise in the business world due to this lawsuit, but I don't call it "enormous chaos." Despite the FUD and the lawsuits and the dupe of the media, Linux is still being enhanced and improved. And most importantly, it's still being adopted.

      Now, if SCO were to win, THAT would be chaos indeed.
      • by FatRatBastard (7583) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:50AM (#8462888) Homepage
        Despite the FUD and the lawsuits and the dupe of the media, Linux is still being enhanced and improved. And most importantly, it's still being adopted.

        Not only that, but the memo is 5 months old and as far as I can tell SCO hasn't gotten any more significant money from Microsoft (maybe, just maybe EV1 was somehow tied into MS "you pay SCO a licensing fee, we'll discout your W2K server licenses by the same amount" but that's a bit too much tin-foil-hat thinking). This is telling me MS probably knows their cash to SCO isn't getting the kind of 'returns' it was looking for and has cut off the supply.

        The lawsuits kind of point in this direction as well. SCO had gone a year "threatning" to sue, without actually doing it. If their threats actually worked MS would probably still be funneling cash to them one way or another and there would be no need to spend any money actually suing someone. Assuming the e-mail is real it looks like the gravy train stopped and now they actually have to find money on their own.
    • It may not... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chordonblue (585047) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:44AM (#8462799) Journal
      ...now that the cat's out of the bag. The FTC should be informed, IBM and Novell should demand memos, etc. Microsoft may end up wishing they'd never done this.

      I wonder if anything will be done based on this leaked memo - I mean legally can anything be done?

  • by dartmouth05 (540493) * on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:33AM (#8462656)
    While this might have an effect in the court of public opinion, and I certainly think that it should (big bad Microsoft, trying to kill off its competitors using SCO as a weapon), I don't see its bearing in the legal arena. Regardless of whether or not Microsoft is bankrolling this lawsuit to stiffle competition from Linux, SCO either owns or doesn't own the code that they are trying to claim as theirs. If they own it, they'll win their lawsuits, regardless of who is paying for them.

    Smoking gun? Well, maybe, if you're looking at a Microsoft violation of their anti-trust agreement, but it really has not bearing on the court cases.

  • "Rich" (Score:5, Informative)

    by mordicus (677405) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:33AM (#8462658) Homepage
    ...is probably Richard Emerson [microsoft.com].
  • by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:34AM (#8462662) Homepage
    They have so much money that no one noticed the cheque for $8.6m was actually for $86m due to a missing decimal place.

    The person responsible has been promoted to strategy and vision director.
  • Not an open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Knetzar (698216) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:36AM (#8462693)
    I find it amusing that the people one /., the same people who believe that one should be able to go to the source and verify the code on voting machines, seem to believe what ESR is telling them about MS and SCO w/o having access to his source.
    Does anyone else see the irony in this?
  • by nonmaskable (452595) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:37AM (#8462699)
    I don't think these guys are _quite_ dumb enough to admit to this stuff in email. Much less on company email that is all under subpoena in the IBM litigation.

    I smell a setup.
    • by doublem (118724) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:57AM (#8462996) Homepage Journal
      First off, I'm not addressing the authenticity of this specific e-mail, just the idea that such dealings would be sent by e-mail.

      They are.

      It's a common communication form, and I've had people where I work now think that by deleting an e-mail from their inbox, they erase if from exitance.

      One of the shadiest people I met in my entire life was having problems with his computer, so the (then) network admin emptied the trash on the desktop and in Outlook as part of his cleanup. Said sales jackass was standing over his shoulder demanding an explanation of everything he was doing, and refused to believe that three years of e-mail were still readily available after he hit the "DEL" key.

      "I deleted them, they're gone."

      After much explanation, including my input, he finally said "It doesn't matter if only geeks can get at them."

      Total idiot.

      And then there was the day he found out about the backups we were doing of the mail server, and the fact that the "deleted items" were kept in our archives for 30 days.

      He was not a happy man.

      BTW: This is the same guy who was later fired when one of his business partners called up threatening to show up with a baseball bat and take out kneecaps.

      I'm not saying the MS execs are anywhere near that level, I'm just saying that just because YOU and I wouldn't put something that incriminating into a system that could be tracked and recovered, doesn't mean other people would.

      Besides, they probably never suspected the document would be leaked.
  • So what happens now? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) * <mike@plan99.net> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:38AM (#8462708) Homepage
    OK, so it seems to a non-lawyer that they've been caught red handed.

    My question then, is what happens now? Is it possible to use this as evidence in a lawsuit? Is it possible to get it confirmed by subpoenia-ing (?) the original, and if so how quick?

    What exact crime has been committed here, if any, and what are the possible punishments, again if Microsoft are actually doing anything illegal.

  • by RoLi (141856) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:40AM (#8462730)
    It's pretty logic that Microsoft is behind all that. Otherwise the anti-Linux FUD spread by SCO just doesn't make any sense.

    However, Microsoft's efforts could backfire badly:

    If people actually start to think (I said "if" okay?) and realize that it's proprietary software that got people into legal trouble:

    • IBM was sued because of their agreements around project Monterey and their licensing of proprietary SCO IP.
    • Autozone was sued because they used the proprietary SCO Unix and SCO claims that they continued to use it after their contract expired.
    • The suit against DaimlerChrysler is similar, they dumped SCO and SCO claims they continue using it

    If any of those firms would have used 100% open source software from the start neither would have been sued.

    Isn't the whole SCO-mess the biggest pro-OSS argument imaginable?

    If you look at SCO: First you buy software from a seemingly honest Unix-vendor, a couple of years later their management changes and you get sued for it! SCO proves how dangerous proprietary sofware can become.

  • by Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:41AM (#8462750)
    "Well I've thoroughly enjoyed this clandestined discussion. I feel so devious and evil. But for my own records, could you write down everything we've just said (especially all the bad stuff we're doing) and distribute it to all the company employees? Make sure all the new guys get it too, especially the one in cubicle 4-B that doesn't like his job. Oh, and if this gets out it could ruin our public image, so try to keep it a secret, thank you." Microsoft VIP
  • The memo looks bogus (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Theovon (109752) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:41AM (#8462753)
    I can believe that Microsoft gave $100 million to SCO. I think both Microsoft and SCO should burn in hell.

    But I don't buy the memo. There are just too many "carefully placed" typos. It looks like someone engineered typos to make it LOOK authentic, but something about it's just a bit too intentional and obvious looking.
  • by Jerk City Troll (661616) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:42AM (#8462756) Homepage

    Either the author of the leaked document in question was in extreme haste, or he has lackluster grammar skills. The document is full of errors like: "The will help us a lot", "componients", "shoudl", "wjich", and so on. That isn't exactly the kind of document you send out when you are trying to convince people to do something shady. You'd think the author would at least had the initiative to spell check the thing before sending it out. Perhaps it should be taken with a grain of salt, and by that, I mean deer salt licks [saltlicks.co.uk].

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:52AM (#8462921)
      Have you ever actually gotten a message from higher-ups? Or sales people, or lawyers??

      That message reads about like all of them.

      You're thinking too geeky. "I'm doing something subversive. Make it clean, neat, nice... blah blah." These people don't think like that. It's just another day at the fast paced office.
  • by Underholdning (758194) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @09:44AM (#8462797) Homepage Journal
    There's nothing indicating that this is real. "An anonymous whistleblower"? What does that mean? He got it from whistleblower392@hotmail.com from a public library IP?
    I'd like to see the headers of the email. If the email originates from SCO then I believe it's authentic (judging from Received: lines rather than the From: field). If it's from a dial-up or public IP, I'm pretty sure it's fake. Of course, there's another posibility. OSI know who the whistleblower is, but they claim they don't so they can't be forced to reveal his identity in court. After all, they're the good guys.
  • by krygny (473134) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:01AM (#8463052)
    I'd be ashamed to send an email that was that poorly written to a business associate at any level. And I'd have less regard for anyone who wood. :-)
  • by H8X55 (650339) <`jason.r.thomas' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:17AM (#8463242) Homepage Journal
    I wonder what search criteria XFree86million would return from msn.com? A message indicating i have entered a search term that is likely to return unethical content?
  • by brain1 (699194) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:38AM (#8463535)
    The grammar and spelling of this e-mail resemble that of a 16-year old with a 'D' average. This Mike Anderer is apparently a highly paid consultant, and one would assume that he has a college, if not at the least, a good secondary education. He should possess good communication skills and be able to write effectively. Those skills would be an essential part of his job.

    To temper my above statement, I do not expect quick e-mail notes to have much spit-and-polish, but spell checkers are a standard feature. Just push the little icon and accept the corrections.

    Frankly, I find it hard to put a lot into this, but I would like to be proven wrong. If this is authentic, then you can read a lot into why SCO is doing the stupid things they are attempting.

    Would you put this guy on your payroll?
  • Mike Anderer? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by frkiii (691845) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:42AM (#8463578)

    Found this doing a little Googling.

    Wonder if this is "the" Mike Anderer?

    "It's hard to find a large corporation interested in it. Anybody with any scars in this business doesn't want to be the first to do anything," commented Mike Anderer (emphasis mine), vice president of systems integration at Ikon Office Solutions, a large international integrator. "Right now it's kind of a manufacturing and standards war. In a year or two it might be a viable product."

    Was found in this story:

    http://news.com.com/2100-1001_3-200420.html

    If it is "the" Mike Anderer from the e-mail, funny that Mike would have been part of Ikon, which I believe is the company Darl McBride worked at, sometime before SCO, which he sued and won some settlement for.

  • IBM's lesson (Score:5, Insightful)

    by technoCon (18339) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @10:45AM (#8463605) Homepage Journal
    Back in my youth, IBM had a permanent law suit going against the Feds on anti-trust charges. This is where the Nazgul learned their chops. IBM is no stranger to perpetual legal cold war. However, I don't think Microsoft is.

    If this funding of SCO's (IMO spurious) case is actionable, then IBM is an ideal belligerant. I believe IBM, et al. will not only win the SCO case, but win their counter-suits. Damages could easily bancrupt SCO, and after those funds are expended I'd like to see if Microsoft could chip in the difference. Or be compelled to do so by a court.

    If it is not, perhaps the creative juices of the Open Source community could be redirected toward devising a class-action law suit against a Redmond Washington corporation who has knowingly distributed a complex of products which is easily compromised via computer virus. If Big Tobacco could be shaken down a decade ago, why not Microsoft? We don't *have* to wait for the DOJ do we?
  • by kwandar (733439) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @11:56AM (#8464622)

    Funding to SCO by MS could be made in one of two ways: 1) Through contracts for services; or 2) Capital investment. Either way it appears to me that SCO and perhaps MS would have a problem, if in fact this email is verified

    If payment is through services agreements, there is a GAAP (Generally accepted accounting principle) requirement for disclosure that you are reliant on a third party where that third party is supplying a substantive proportion of your revenues. Even if several different parties provided revenues to SCO, if the executives at SCO knew it was solely due to MS and where therefor reliant on MS, disclosure would be required.

    If the source of funding was through capital invesment in SCO, there would be a required disclosure in the Company's 10K or 10Q MD&A, since it would appear they are dependant upon this source of funding to carry on with their business. The amount of funding is not insignificant and certainly material.

    Furthermore, a hidden MS investment of this signficance, without disclosure, would have manipulated the market price. This would hold MS and SCO open to SEC related lawsuits

    If this turns out to be true, lawyers and the SEC are going to have a field day at SCO and MS's expense

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