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McNealy Created Millions of Jobs? 363

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the not-the-steve-variety dept.
cahiha writes "In his blog, Jonathan Schwartz argues that Scott McNealy is single-handedly responsible for making network computing a reality. His timeline is something like that in 1992, the industry was focused on 'Chicago' (Windows 95), while McNealy bravely went his own way-- 'the network is the computer.' He goes on to claim that 'There is no single individual who has created more jobs around the world than [Scott McNealy]. [...] I'm not talking hundreds or thousands of jobs, I'm talking millions.' I have trouble following his argument: client/server computing and distributed computing were already widely available and widely used in the early 1990s. The defining applications of the emerging Internet were, not Java, but Apache, Netscape, and Perl. Sun's biggest response to Chicago was to attempt to establish Java as the predominant desktop application delivery platform, something they have not succeeded at so far. So, what do you think: is Schwartz right in giving credit to McNealy for creating 'millions' of jobs? Or has Sun been a company on the decline since the mid-1990s, only temporarily buoyed by the Internet bubble?"
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McNealy Created Millions of Jobs?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:00AM (#15227599)
    Al Gore? He created the internet, and there must be at least a million porn sites...
    • Re:What about... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I know it's meant as a joke, but since it's not true, it's even less funny? What do Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn say..? [interesting-people.org] and A Salon.com Gore Internet Invented Article [salon.com] or More Gore Internet Invented, Invention Research [sethf.com] ...don't you think?
    • Re:What about... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by samkass (174571)
      I know you were trying to be funny, but your statement is more true than false.
    • by ceeam (39911)
      Al Gore? Internet? I believe that he created not millions, not billions, but trillions (hand)jobs!
  • something they have not succeeded at so far

    They shouldn't have been so restrictive about their license.

    What do you mean no java in my debian repo !?
  • by iberian411 (947793) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:02AM (#15227611) Journal
    but as far as ceo's go he was a cool guy who generally got out of the way and let technologists drive. You know, the dilbert principle. I'd work for scott in a heartbeat. The same can't be said for one of the Steves.

    • I'd work for scott in a heartbeat.

      So would 40,000 others, apparently. Which may be a factor in Sun's recent losses; I wonder if your sentiment will still hold true after Sun has had to 25% of their current workforce [bloomberg.com]. Sometimes technologists don't make the best buisnessmen, and "letting them drive" could be precisely why Sun is in the position it now is in.

      • I'm not so sure. Workstations and servers were a great cash-cow for Sun through the 90s, and you really say they were foolish to pursue that market? But now those markets have dimished, and it's pretty hard to cope when your core market diminishes. SGI, DEC, and who knows how many others have faced the same problems and done no better.
    • McNeally might have gotten out of the way of the technologists, but that doesn't mean middle management did. I've heard a few frustrating stories regarding the company during the late 90s.
  • Ask Slashdot ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alexhs (877055) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:03AM (#15227622) Homepage Journal
    So, what do you think: is Schwartz right in giving credit to McNealy for creating 'millions' of jobs? Or has Sun been a company on the decline since the mid-1990s, only temporarily buoyed by the Internet bubble?

    Neither ?

    These black & white choices are annoying >_<
    • Don't worry, once we get Scott McNealy in here as senior Slashdot editor, we'll be blessed with millions of new options to choose from!
    • Neither ? These black & white choices are annoying

      Apparently many people have yet to master a property of thinking living beings called "fuzzy logic". Even some software products are better at it...
  • by Richard Dick Head (803293) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:05AM (#15227625) Homepage Journal
    Millions of Jobs

    Sweet! Maybe I'll move to India to get one! :)
    • When I first saw the article, I thought Apple had announced a new iClone...

      Millions of Jobs? Where would they find enough black turtlenecks?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:08AM (#15227639)
    See, with an intel machine, you just need one guy to run it.

    With Sun machines, you need an SC specialist, a OBP specialist, a Solaris specialist, and three guys just to install the damn thing.

    I'd say they're creating a hell of a lot of jobs. :-)
  • by gnarlin (696263) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:10AM (#15227650) Homepage Journal
    Well, I have been hearing that the BSD's are dying too!
  • by garoush (111257) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:17AM (#15227683) Homepage
    ... or any other single individual for that matter.

    If so, then wouldn't one argue that the Abacuses created billions of jobs? How about the person(s) who invention the wheel -- didn't that create zillions and zillions of jobs?

    When well we stop giving needless and total credit to one individual who merely happens to be at the right place at the right time. McNealy would not have been successful if many, and many, and many other individuals didn't do their parts directly or indirectly their part -- they too must be singled out if McNealy is.

    -- George
    • As a general rule, progress usually means _fewer_ jobs. We simply need fewer people to do the same work that we needed more to do before, ie, things become cheaper and wealth is created. That was true even back in the day of the wheel, and it's certainly true for any particular advancement that Schwartz wants to credit McNealy with; the former bank clerks, photo-industry and warehouse workers would probably have a thing or two to say about how many jobs were 'created'.

      Of course, saying 'nobody has made as m
  • hardware (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jrexilius (520067) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:26AM (#15227722) Homepage
    I would call the statement an exaggeration, however, Sun did deliver lower-cost quality unix systems on which apache, perl, netscape, and other network oriented apps depended. Yes there was AIX, HP-UX and a few others, but Sun delivered quality unix machines to the mass market (ish)..

    I would say he gets credit for a good product at a good price point when and where it was needed and that did help the economy.
  • Bill Gates (Score:4, Funny)

    by jo42 (227475) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:28AM (#15227735) Homepage
    Bill Gates is the man that created millions of jobs and billions of dollars of revenue for thousands of companys in hundreds of countries.

    Who would of thought that keeping all those Windows machines running would take up so much of the Global 'GDP'...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm sure Scott would love to be selling some Sun branded hardware as a result of his "vision". Cause I think _THAT_ was really the original idea. That or selling in "set-top" boxes etc... For the most part, they have missed their target market.
  • by Josh (2625) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:34AM (#15227762)
    I agree with the author's rebuttal to Schwartz (and would also point out the silliness of the premise that McNealy gets credit for anything Sun the company did while he was CEO), but I'll add that Sun did do a lot to fight the mono-culture when it was most threatening and to keep Unix commercially viable for a lot longer than many predicted. It's hard to predict how things would have evolved without that.
  • I don't think so... (Score:2, Informative)

    by derfla8 (195731)
    I think there is some confusion here. To the best of my knowledge the success of Microsoft and their ability to provide a relatively low cost and consistent client for application development and deployment for applications has had much more of an impact that anything that Sun has developed. Without a client, what good is the network? Take a look at the "network thin client" as an example. Where is it today?

    Despite so many online and network applications, many business users need to function offline.

    Jav
    • by rs232 (849320)
      I think there is some confusion here .. Where is it today?

      Microsofts sucess owes more to them squeezing out competitors/partners than anything to do with providing a low cost client. Take a look at the litigation page on Groklaw to see what they are really good at. Remember this is a company who altered Outlook to block a web greeting card company when they wouldn't sell out to them.

      The main reason you don't see thin client is because MS supressed the development of Java and reinvented most of its fu
    • Our customers start off that way, because everyone is doing it. However, as the costs mount up, they inevitable realize how stupid it is. Each company gravitates towards a different thin client solution, however. We have only one using Linux LTSP thin clients (and that is what we use in our own office and what I use at home).

      However, gnome is too customizable for many end-users. One large client rejected the Linux solution because their users kept rearranging their menus until they couldn't find thing

  • I remember using X Windows in 1989. There was a company that used to sell greyscale X displays (Wyse? I'm not sure) long before 1992.

    When (former) CEOs start getting these feelings of grandeur, it's a sure sign of dementia.

    • I remember using X Windows in 1989. There was a company that used to sell greyscale X displays (Wyse? I'm not sure) long before 1992.

      Yeah, but Sun invented NFS way before 1992, too. And Unix workstations, networked together, in general -- if it wasn't their idea, they were certainly successful in that area before 1992.

      I'm not sure what good things Sun has done after 1992, but they and McNealy at least deserve credit for the things they did before that.

      • Well, Sun really was NOT responsible for the networking. But the group from which Sun sprung from was; Berkley. There are ppl that work at Sun today, that did the initial development at Berkley and other places, but since they arrived at Sun, they have been less productive. Sadly, Sun has some of the better ppl that could compete, but were forced out of doing OSS style work into more closed work that disappeared. For instance, rpc and NFS was NOT that open, initially. It was opened later when Sun needed an
    • There was a company that used to sell greyscale X displays (Wyse? I'm not sure) long before 1992.

      Wyse did sell X terminals, but I believe NCD did it first. And they were 1-bit (black and white, not greyscale), at least the early ones were.

      But, what do you think people hooked them up to lots of the time? Suns. What do you think served the bootp and tftp protocols so that the NCD could boot? Pretty often, it was Sun machines.

  • by supabeast! (84658) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:37AM (#15227774)
    How about we give the credit to the US government agencies like DARPA and NASA, who planned and funded most of the computing research projects from which modern computers and networks developed, and not to people who just ran the companies that built some of the machines and created some of the software? It the DOD, NASA, and the intelligence community hadn't been pushing for all those cool networks and powerful computers and bringing together thousands of companies and academics to do the work, companies like Sun probably wouldn't exist at all.
  • Riding the Wave (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rknop (240417) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:45AM (#15227808) Homepage
    McNealy was trying to ride the wave that Microsoft was, at the time, willfully blind to. He showed more vision than Microsoft. But Sun shouldn't get the credit for creating that wave. The Internet had been around for a while, and was going to burst on the commercial and public scene in a big way, thanks to many factors, of which Sun was just a small part. (Microsoft, meanwhile, had their collective heads in the sand, or rather, in their hindquarters, trying to deny that this potential Windows-dominance threat was anything worth thinking about. Remember when they thought MSN was an *alternative* to the Internet? Anything they don't utterly control, they hate.)

    It is true that for a long time, Java was one of the all-important buzzwords, but it didn't pan out quite as well as it might have.

    Sun was important, but not *that* important. CERN was far more important....

    -Rob
    • Re:Riding the Wave (Score:4, Informative)

      by VENONA (902751) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @01:08PM (#15228486)
      I don't know that I'd say Sun created that wave, but neither were they a small part. Remember that for some time (at least a couple of years, IIRC) after the Mosaic browser, the killer app was still email. For all I know, there are still more mail than Web packets on the backbones. Anybody have any figures?

      But it was definitely those relatively innexpensive Sun workstation class machines that powered much of DNS, mail, FTP, and gopher, in the days before the Web, and for at least a couple of years after the Web.

      I have to call Sun a *major* contributor. To the extent that we're perhaps 3-5 years further along than we would have been without them, though there's absolutely no way to verify that SWAG.
    • Re:Riding the Wave (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Decaff (42676)
      McNealy was trying to ride the wave that Microsoft was, at the time, willfully blind to. He showed more vision than Microsoft. But Sun shouldn't get the credit for creating that wave. The Internet had been around for a while, and was going to burst on the commercial and public scene in a big way, thanks to many factors, of which Sun was just a small part.

      No, Sun was not just a small part. Sun was a dominant part of the promotion of 'Open Systems' in the 1980s - encouraging the use of UNIX with documented a
  • Family Guy Quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zaguar (881743) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @10:52AM (#15227839)
    ...is Schwartz right in giving credit to McNealy for creating 'millions' of jobs? Or has Sun been a company on the decline since the mid-1990s, only temporarily buoyed by the Internet bubble?

    What was that Family Guy quote? Didn't it go like this:

    Lawyer: So, Mr Griffin, is Brian Griffin a sex-crazed dog or an irresponsible alchoholic?
    Peter: Ah,ah...
    Lawyer: Drunken lunatic or terrible father?

    The world is not black and white. These choices on /. are annoying. Sun is a good company, not a great one, but giving an either/or question with disconnected answers is fallacious.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      The world is not black and white. These choices on /. are annoying.

      True, and true.

      Sun is a good company, not a great one

      Now that is just the kind of oversimplification you're complaining about. Companies are not good or bad, great or trivial. They're profitable or unprofitable, well managed or not, have good products or don't, etc. Sun has done well sometimes in some of these measures, has done badly sometimes in some (often the same) measures, etc. And they've screwed up a lot lately.

      but giving

  • Jonathan Schwartz is making the same mistakes that got McNealy and Sun into trouble. Instead of concentrating on creating new avant-garde technologies (which is what the old Sun was about), McNealy launched a Microsoft and Linux-bashing propaganda campaign. Now we see Schwartz using the same hype tactics. It's a shame because I liked the old Sun. I really did. Will it return? I am not so sure anymore.
    • "Jonathan Schwartz is making the same mistakes that got McNealy and Sun into trouble. Instead of concentrating on creating new avant-garde technologies"

      You mean like Java. What got Sun into trouble was Microsoft sabotaging Java on the desktop. Remember when they brought out an incompatible Microsoft Jave version. Wilfully breaking the write once run anywhere option. The one thing Java was supposed to do well. "McNealy launched a Microsoft and Linux-bashing propaganda campaign."

      When someone launches
      • Are you seriously sugesting that Suns decline had nothing to do with Microsofts tactics.

        No. It's a dog-eat-dog world. It's sad, I know, but there is no use in whining about it too much. Sun's forte has always been its microprocessor design know-how, IMO. That's where they should have concentrated their passion and resources. And I'm not talking about going head to head against big boys like Intel and AMD. Intel and AMD are good at what they do (within their chosen paradigm) and no third party is going to un
      • You mean like Java. What got Sun into trouble was Microsoft sabotaging Java on the desktop. Remember when they brought out an incompatible Microsoft Jave version.

        The reason Java failed on the desktop was because Sun's desktop technologies sucked (and still do); Microsoft may have been planning to sabotage them, but they didn't even have to bother.

        Are you seriously sugesting that Suns decline had nothing to do with Microsofts tactics.

        I don't know about him, but I certainly am. Some time in the 1990's, Sun m
  • I would be willing to bet most of those 'java jobs' would still exist, only using a different language.

    Sure, a few might have been created just beacuse java existed, but not many.
  • by blair1q (305137) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @11:08AM (#15227893) Journal
    Bill Joy.

    His early yet elegant productivity enabled a generation to create and communicate.

    But really, the heroes are the people who wrote the documentation. Because all the technology in the world is useless if the next guy can't figure out how it works.

    McNealy never created any job but his own.
  • Maybe . . . (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Although I question the numbers, (they are a bit high), I will say that I was employed right out of college because I could manage Sun servers and Solaris. From there, I learned, and used other Un*x and Un*x like operating systems. Today, 95% of what I do is still running on the same operating systems. Was McNealy the only reason? Nope! But, he sure did help early on.

    He should be on everyone's Christmas card list!

  • by g4sy (694060)
    Count up the number of people working tech support, virus control, and PC services. Those industries didn't exist 20 years ago. Bill Gates created more jobs because there are more PC techs than Network Admins on the planet. Bill Gates wins. Or whoever created disease: healthcare employs more than technology. I think whoever it was that invented diseases should win: he must be a great guy for creating so many jobs!!!
    But seriously this topic has too many hot-button words to not be considered flamebait. Read
  • by r00t (33219) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @11:30AM (#15228007) Journal
    Without Java being integrated into Netscape, Microsoft wouldn't have cared so much about browsers. They'd just ship a toy like MS Paint, Notepad, etc.

    Because of Sun, because of Java, we have IE. (and ActiveX, and VBscript...)
  • In Sun's sandy silence, all alone,
    Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
    The only shadow that the Desert knows: -
    "I am great MCNEALYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
    "The CEO of CEOs; this mighty Company shows
    "The wonders of my hand." - The Company's gone, -
    Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
    The site of this forgotten Cybertron.
  • Don't get me wrong, Suns were fine platforms, but McNealy didn't "create" the web or all those jobs in any way, shape, or form.

    Neither did Microsoft or Windows.

    Of course, the author of the article insists that either Microsoft created the web, or that Sun did, and doesn't even consider how it actually happened.
  • Would these millions be without a job, or would they be doing something else. Say that there would be no network at all. Then people would burn things on CD's and use couriers the get data across.

    Due to the amount, that could mean even more people working then now in Networking.

    An example. Because of networking, people can do homebanking. This means less tellers. This means people in banks without a job.
  • There's only one Jobs, and his name is Steve.

    (And to be honest, I'm pretty sure Scott McNealy didn't create him.)
  • The real innovators (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Desperado (23084) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @12:30PM (#15228298)
    We really owe the "millions of jobs" to Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie and Bell Labs for developing UNIX and making it available to academia virtually for free.

    And, if I remember correctly, Digital Equipment Corp. (remember them?) coined "the network is the computer" not SUN.
    • by mikefoley (51521)
      DEC had "The Network is the System" painted on its trucks in the 80's. I was there from '80 to '98.
      • Mike,

        Thanks for the clarification. I was a PDP-11 RSX-11 commo. and networking programmer in a previous life.... Those were the days, we didn't NEED any high level language and we liked it, etc. etc. old geezer rant.
    • We really owe the "millions of jobs" to Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie and Bell Labs for developing UNIX and making it available to academia virtually for free.

      No. The people you owe that to is AT&T's lawyers. The reason why Unix became (pseudo) Open Source is that AT&T was a legislated monopoly. Part of their consent decree was that they couldn't go into markets outside of Telephones, and they couldn't supress technology.

      This got them into a rather tight bind. When someone asked AT&T

  • Scott McNealy and Jonathan Schwartz are suits (Scott was the MBA "business" guy who helped found Sun; Schwartz is a former McKinsey consultant) who have long had a mutual admiration society. This is little more than Jonathan giving Scott one last bit of fawning fellatio on McNealy's way out.
  • Sun's Greatest Hits (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @01:20PM (#15228539)
    Sun's greatest achievement is not to go the way of DEC.

    Their greatest failure is not to do much better.

    Here is a company with world class hardware and software, and completely failing to exploit the market though "lack of grip on reality" Scott McNealy is definitely in the same league with Ken Olsen in having some bright ideas, but too much ego to make the best of them.

    The world is aboslutely gasping for something better than Wintel, and DEC, Apple and Sun had it. Only Apple is only now recovering from the afflictions of Big Ego striking it down. DEC died of Big Ego, and Sun has barely survived.

    Sun has a good reputation for quality in hardware and software. Every computer professional and Nerd knows it. Even their support is well regarded. Why are then not trouncing Microsoft and Intel? (I dont know. I am writing this on an Ultra60 running FreeBSD.)

  • Clarification (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lancejjj (924211) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @01:33PM (#15228583) Homepage
    Major error in the summary:

    Jonathan Schwartz argues that Scott McNealy is single-handedly responsible for making network computing a reality.

    Where in reality, the Schwartz article clearly states:

    he talked about network computing in a very strange way - he just assumed the future, he'd already moved his entire mindset, and his lifestyle, to the network.


    There is nothing in there about McNealy being the only guy able to bring the network computing vision into reality. But he have the vision early on - us old timers clearly remember Sun at that time, and their vision that was very clearly stated.

    Is the posting a little sappy? It's very sappy. But it never says or suggests that McNealy single handedly did anything.
  • Last time I checked there were 4.5 million Java developers. I assume most of these people are paid to do this. At least some of them are (more than 1 million). You could argue that since Sun developed Java, it's responsible for creating these jobs. Since McNeally has been the CEO of Sun since the begining he gets credit. This doesn't even get into all of the people that are doing work relating to the sparc processor, Solaris system admins, the people working on Java Enterprise System, or the 30,000+ people
  • If you RTFA... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zigurd (3528) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @03:21PM (#15229004) Homepage
    If you RTFA instead of riffing on the ./ post title, which isn't even Jonathan Schwartz's blog post title - "When I first met Scott..." - you would see that while, in one short paragraph, he does lionize MacNealy, comparing him to Henry Ford and making the claim of launching a million jobs, most of Schwartz's blog post is a lot more realistic.

    He accurately points out that, when Windows 95 shipped, Microsoft was sweeping all before it, including Apple, which was adrift at the time. It took a lot of balls to say "No" to Windows then.

    Too bad Sun didn't make more out of that decision. Apple now has 20% more revenue and half as many employees. The plan seems to have been to milk the Internet bubble forever. "The network is the computer" is just a slogan. There is no special AJAX or WebOS sauce in Solaris.

    Schwartz praises MacNealy for holding down job cuts in R&D. But you have to ask "What the hell are 30,000 people doing at Sun?" when Apple somehow manages to make the best personal computer hardware, and personal computer OS software, and the best consumer electronics device on the market, all with one quarter of the number of employees as Microsoft.

    Schwartz is very, very smart. He knows he has to make big changes, like getting the open-sourcing of Java right, and figuring out how to use Linux, during his honeymoon time in the CEO position or the chance will be lost.

    What Schwartz does not mention is that MacNealy set a bad tone and created problems unneccessarily. Statements like "You have no privacy, get over it." and the inability to get out in front of the Linux parade are the reasons Schwartz is in and MacNealy is out. Hopefully this is the last time Schwartz looks back. He has plenty of very hard work ahead of him.

Overload -- core meltdown sequence initiated.

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