Is Sun priming itself for sale?

by Steve Anglin

In recent news as reported by the SF Chronicle:

  • "Sun plans to cut nearly 5,000 jobs; Santa Clara tech giant also expects to consolidate facilities and restrict poison pills in an effort to woo shareholders"

  • "Speculation about potential sale of Sun: CEO says 'no hidden message' in job cuts; analysts skeptical"

So, is Sun Microsystems, Inc. (SUNW) priming itself for sale?

If yes, who will acquire/merge with Sun, and what will they gain?


Aju Sreekumar
2006-06-06 12:01:40
IBM should be the ideal candidate, i.e., if they can afford. This would definitely do a world of good to the sun patronized technologies. But the current financial standing of IBM would make this merger next to impossible. I personally would like to see IBM take over and save the fading SUN.
Dalibor Topic
2006-06-06 13:13:06
At the current price (i.e. ~ 15 billion) probably noone.
2006-06-06 21:55:19
Oo .. this is a one of the bad new of this year . This shows the ppl working for Open source can't survive in todays Durty Market.

May be acquired by Google or IBM or at the worst by MS :(

Rory WInston
2006-06-07 02:35:10
I think it is very unlinkely that MS would want to acquire Sun. I dont think that they would be able to obtain enough synergies to warrant a purchase. IBM may be a different story, however.
2006-06-07 10:23:58
1. Oracle is an interesting candidate, but they may not have the financial leverage.
2. IBM is the obvious one out there
3. HP and Dell
And the wild card: Google
2006-06-07 11:01:06
Besides, I think Oracle is setting its sights on acquiring Red Hat (with JBoss), first as a priority.
Daniele Gariboldi
2006-06-07 12:15:13
I think Oracle could do the best:
Solaris + Ultrasparc + Oracle (+JBoss) as a full bundle, or Redhat + Ultrasparc / AMD + JBoss, and java to glue all togheter. If Oracle has money, they can earn a lot by buying SUN.
The new name: ORACLE of the SUN (and motto: Oracle now shines !)
Simon Hibbs
2006-06-08 03:13:35
Oracle can't afford to piss off the other hardware vendors by becoming one themselves, and bundling hardware would just reduce current margins. Also Sun's hardware business is fading fast, what realisticaly could Oracle do to change that?

IBM already has a unix server business, with proprietary CPU and Unix implementation. There is no synergy with Sun, only direct competition and it wouldn't be worth the price to eliminate just one of many competitors.

Apple has been touted before, but they're going Intel and have their own Unix server OS, so Sun's technology is of no interest to them either.

Sun is screwed. They have nothing anybody else needs or wants. I say this with deep sadness because I cut my Unix teeth on Solaris and always had excellent experiences with their support and training.

Tomi Itkonen
2006-06-08 03:22:53
The buyer could be one of the new players: some undefinably large and yet unknown company from China or India,
John Walker
2006-06-08 04:38:45
Could Apple possibly benefit from a more improved standing in the large server space by acquiring Sun? Perhaps roll the best of Solaris into OSX, make Solaris more 'friendly'?
2006-06-09 13:52:23
The bigger question is how Java would be safeguarded in the event of a sale.

For Microsoft to acquire Java would be disastrous - something a Federal Trade Commission could/should prevent. Google needs Java, as does IBM. Of the two, Google may be the better steward.

2006-06-09 17:25:40
Java doesn't really mean that much in direct revenue and licensing fees for Sun. But whomever acquires/merges with Sun, they will be identified with Java as Sun is. And indirectly, this pays off in a large, incalculable way, imo, in terms of indirect revenue, PR, and more...

And Oracle and IBM have both attempted to redefine Java in their own ways. Both companies have protested paying licensing dues to Sun for use of Java in their products, etc.

HP is a ? player. Dell is mostly a Windows server player, but they may like to get into Java server space using Sun.

Now Google... I'm not sure Java is as much of a prize to them as it is for IBM and Oracle. Google could freely leverage Java and other Sun resoures for their services plans, though. Google is the wildcard, imo.

2006-06-09 18:01:53
The problem I have with considering HP or Dell is that they present no native understanding of Java. As AOL presented no understanding of Netscape. As Novell no understanding of Unix. Really no respect for the culture, if you will, and the value of that culture.

Oracle: fair enough, but I don't see the vision there, nor do I think it would be good for Java - Oracle is every bit as predatory as Microsoft. And IBM, yes, I can see that. But IBM is not the technology company it used to be.

If there is a firesale, I see Google and IBM. And perhaps Oracle. Notice Yahoo has not been mentioned by anyone in this thread, and probably rightly so.

What I'm hoping Sun is doing is setting up a safe harbor for Java in the event of such a sale - spin it off into its own subsidiary. I have no idea how that would work, but one hopes triggers are in place that keep the Java legacy alive in the event of a transfer of assets. Iow, buying Sun's server business does not necessarily give you Java for free.

Frankly, it saddens me that we're having this discussion. Say what you will, Sun produced Solaris, which allowed an untold number of good IT careers to exist at all, not to mention the entire Web 1.0 phenomenon. But time marches on. For the sake of a vigorous ecosystem, I hope Jonathan hits it out of the park. He's got his work cut out for him - as in a Jobs set of work.

2006-06-09 18:06:43
Someone added that a foreign Indian or Chinese play might buy Sun. Quite possible, although I have no clue who those players are and what are their motivations.

A Schwartz miracle is also possible, if that's what he and his Board want.

Robert Cooper
2006-06-10 07:05:53
You know, it would be interesting to speculate on Apple buying Sun.

1. They have about USD 4B cash on hand.
2. The Xserve line, or at least the storage units, are starting to make real inroads for the first time.
3. It would buy Apple insta-cred in the enterprise space where they have been lacking.

There was some discussion several years ago about a Sun-Apple merger. Really at this point, however, the situation is reversed: an On-the-Ropes Sun and a flush Apple. Still, it seems that culturally they aren't a bad fit, and in terms of products and technology, they are well matched in terms of opposite strengths. Additionally, Sun's Java play in the cellphone and small device world would give Apple a foothold in an industry into which they would like to press their consumer electronics business.

All in all, however, I am not sure Apple really wants to bite off the enterprise biz, but it would be ineresting.

As an aside, I don't even see Google as a player here. I can't see Google wanting to be in the businesses Sun is in.

2006-06-10 11:19:41
If Apple wants to play in the enterprise, server space, then a M&A with Sun would make sense. And yes, there was some speculation about this a while back too.

Currently, I'm not sure Apple's A1 priority is the server market. Instead, I think they would rather acquire Adobe as part of their attempt to split Apple into Apple Computers, Inc. and Apple Media, Inc.

2006-06-10 12:48:16
Interesting about Apple and Sun. I can see that. Apple gets culture, rightly or wrongly. In reference to my earlier comments about AOL and Netscape, Novell and Unix - those companies didn't even understand what they bought. Apple would.

Yeah, my comments about Google were more directed to securing Java for themselves, their ecosystem, and otherwise everyone else who depends on the Java pillar. I can't imagine Google being interested in the server business.

2006-06-10 17:36:53
>>Currently, I'm not sure Apple's A1 priority is the server market. Instead, I think they would rather acquire Adobe as part of their attempt to split Apple into Apple Computers, Inc. and Apple Media, Inc.

Really? I would think if Apple would split, it would be Apple Computer and Apple Electronics. Seems an iPod spin off would be more likely than taking all their media-soft group and spinning that.

Sorry, totally off topic here.

Wilhelm Schwarzutrup
2006-06-12 07:18:55
Sun should split itself in Sun Hardware Business + Solaris and JavaSoft.

Java can grow into their own big corporation, because it doesn't need special hardware, so it is counterproductive to the hardware business, because it comoditizes hardware.

Sun needs differentiation of the hardware business, so they need to build really expensive, ultrafast hardware. If they need to port Java to that platform, that's too bad, because it takes time. Microsoft doesn't have to wait to port Java to their new OS, actually they prefer to ship new OS that do not run Java. Sun now has to use enormous amounts of resources to keep up with the moving Windows target, which is their primary platform. Who are they working for? Java development occurs almost exclusively on Windows, for each Java on the server, there is a least 100 Java on the desktop. So Sun is helping Microsoft financially.

JavaSoft should empower Linux as a viable alternative to Windows for developing in Java. IBM is not helping much to that respect because WSAD is recommended on Windows only. Eclipse runs on Linux, but the documentation says "WSAD runs on Linux, but it is not supported". Big victory for Microsoft. JavaSoft should check their licenses to force their licensees to create truly crossplatform development tools.

.NET is really primitive technology marketed as superior just because it is easier to strat using it. Actually they are right, it is easier to start, as long as you on't try to do something different from the example, which is always the case, and which is impossible using current technology, because architects at Microsoft are mentally challenged.

There is no such a thing in Java. I mean there are no great ways to start, so that developers can do things simply using a 30 minutes tutorial. But also in Java you can write an OS if you want and know how to, because Java is a real platform, not like .NET that is constantly redefined and the new versions are not source compatible with older versions, meaning artificial job creation, which is good for programmers, but bad for businesses, because writing source code is an investment and with every new release from MS all that investment is lost.

Java is source compatible for the last 8 years. Companies that have realized this are saving big bucks, because today they are running on Windows on some app server, tomorrow they could be running on Azul systems, saving millions of bucks in the process, while on .NET they are stuck on big fat and lousy Windows that is eating all the hardware, and then they find that they need to rewrite the multimillion bucks app for the next .NET. I know no company that can resist such a waste in the long run. Eventually this will show up in the Excel spreadsheet they use to make decisions and .NET will be banned from those companies.

The only possible move for MS is to buy Java and let it starve to death. If Sun open sources Java, Java will fork, so Sun has to be careful on how to open source key parts of Java that need further development, restart JavaOS that is currently dead, migrate key portions of Solaris to Java, so that Solaris becomes secure, lean and mean, and at the same time, prove that Sun hardware is better than i386.

2006-06-15 15:02:57
Maybe it's not the hardware that a corp is after when they are looking to aquire Sun. Sun has held a tight grip on Java for the longest time and Java with other technologies such as the technologies currently available through Adobe could put Adobe miles ahead of where it is now. Would anyone agree that Adobe would be a good candidate for nothing else but Java?
2006-06-16 12:51:37
I do not see the value of Sun to microsoft. Despite the similarities, Java and .NET are seldom used in the same domain area. If Sun were to be sold, I'd imagine IBM and Oracle would be the most likely purchasers.
2006-08-02 11:16:18
And what about SAP?

SAP could buy java technology to compete Oracle and HP

Maybe is time to stat buing Sun stocks! music lyrics
2006-10-12 01:57:05
Hi all!