Saturday, November 1, 2008

Time For Sun-set?

Sun Microsystems just announced a loss of almost $1.7 billion, news that took another 13% off their battered stock price, already down over 70% this year before now falling further. Even with something north of $3 billion in the bank, the meltdown on Wall Street may well have hammered the last nail into the coffin they've been building themselves year-in, year-out for the past two decades.

The company has tried pretty much everything it can think of: going into software, sticking it all in open source, switching to non-proprietary hardware, buying a tape back-up company (yup, they did that), burning sheep entrails, etc. Nothing has systematically halted the slide from Sun's heyday when they were out there decimating DEC's business, ultimately leading to the death of the the entire company. But now it's their turn. Apart from some cosmetic re-branding - going to the JAVA ticker symbol was supposed to fool who exactly? - nothing is stopping this particular high-tech Titanic from sailing full-tilt into their own, home-hewn iceberg.

What would I do differently? No idea, but at least it would be different. You can't help feeling that Scott McNealy's hand is still on the tiller and really nothing has changed since he handed the captaincy over to the one that FSJ (aka Dan Lyons) dubbed "My Little Pony". And when I say nothing has changed, that seems to include the way Sun executives get compensated even while the company sinks lower and lower.
Think Wall Street has been greedy of late? Try hazarding a guess at what Jonathan Schwartz got paid in FY 2008 for delivering such impressive negative shareholder value. Eleven ... million ... dollars, and no that's not all stock based either. Nice.

No comments: