Sun Pops Stack: Turnaround Unlikely

Scott McNealy, co-founder and long-time CEO of Sun, is stepping aside in the wake of a miserable financial quarter, elevating Jonathan Schwartz to the top spot at the company. “Stepping aside” may be a euphemism for “shown the door” by a frustrated board, but my take is that, directionally, there doesn’t appear to be any shakeup: Schwartz and Papadopoulos move up a level and that’s about it. Alan Zeichick suggests that McNealy’s exit may foreshadow a sale. May be, although I have a hard time figuring out for whom Sun would be a good investment.

Sun’s always been difficult to parse. There have been two eras when I thought they were going to take over the world (the early 90s and the late 90s) and other eras where I thought they were entirely irrelevant. With IBM clearly the most influential corporate entity in the Java world, now is one of those “irrelevant” periods. On the other hand, Sun has some brilliant people working for them, the type of people who can create industry-changing technologies. I thought that clockless CPUs might be that type of technology for Sun, but it was AMD, not Sun, that emerged as Intel’s major competitor (and, incidentally, showed yet again how conservative the market is about CPU instruction sets).