Via Stephen’s links this morning I noted an article by Matt Asay, Rise or fall for Red Hat?
The article is well worth a read, and provides a great peg for something I noticed earlier this week, when I got a press release from a new open source sales and marketing automation startup called LoopFuse. We’ll be getting briefed by LoopFuse in the new year, but what caught my eye was the people behind the firm – Roy Russo and Tom Elrod. Given that Roy and Tom led the JBoss Portal and JBoss remoting projects this seemed like pretty big news to me. Are options vesting or something?
Certainly the departure of key JBoss developers and architects from Red Hat is a big loss. At any software company losing talent hurts, but so much of the JBoss mythos was built around the Cult of the Committer that to lose core team-members is even more of a big deal. It was always touted as a core JBoss advantage that the people that wrote the code worked at the firm. As VARGuy puts it: “Red Hat needs to keep Jboss evangelists happy.”
Intriguingly, Asay is on the board of LoopFuse, but doesn’t talk to this angle on his blog. Not sure why Matt initially discounts Apache Tomcat in the piece, which really is the leading open-source application server, but he gets to it.
Its no surprise to see JBoss being marked down by investment analysts. But if it starts to lose more committers it may have a real problem on its hands. Arguably the new business model has significantly evolved from the Fleury Era cult of personality, but in the open source world it is still a massive boon to have core developers on staff. I am not saying JBoss is dead or anything silly like that- but the situation is certainly interesting.
One other push-back against Matt. He says BEA has no future as a standalone player. Yet what of Red Hat-any number of tech firms could swallow it. Next year we’re going to see some major industry shifts in the commercial open source space, and a Red Hat acquisition is quite possible, especially if the investment analysts continue to downgrade the stock as a player in its own right. I wonder if these analysts have also caught wind of the very faint whispers I have heard that IBM finally preparing its own Linux distribution. Not sure what else would spook the herd. Unless, as vendorprisey just suggested on the phone, this could be a symptom of the current credit crunch. Capital is really hard to come by, for building a business (the mode Red Hat is in). BEA on the other hand has pretty reasonable cash flow.
Charles Phillips surely has a price in mind at which would bid for Red Hat. If you can’t beat them.. We already know what the BEA offer looked like.
Julien Viet says:
December 18, 2007 at 11:26 pm
I think you should base your posts on real facts, please read my comment here http://blog.jboss-portal.org/2007/12/i-am-real-roy-russo.html
December 19, 2007 at 3:55 am
I say this not as a disgruntled ex-employee but as a friend of Red Hat. Roy Russo, Rob Bearden, Ben Sabrin, Marc Fleury, all of sales (including multiple to Alfresco), most of services (including the guy who really ran training to Interface21), Tom Wix (who did all of the logistics that made services work), and these are the “names”. In a company of ~200 if even 20 leave that is 10% attrition. That is at least 30 million dollars down the drain. (in retraining, value add, relationships, goodwill, etc). No one is irreplacable…it just costs money to do so. In truth it is much more. And this is the attrition you ‘know’ about ;-). RH needs to wake up and let JBoss take its mojo back.
James Governor’s Monkchips » On JBoss, IBM Linux, FUD and the “Real Roy Russo” says:
December 20, 2007 at 5:37 pm
[…] I opined that after its acquisition by Red Hat JBoss was less a cult of personality, but that personalities […]
Chris Laprun says:
December 21, 2007 at 3:21 pm
You might want to update this blog to point to your follow up post clarifying Roy’s and Julien’s role as it’s only fair to correct the mistake in the context of the original post i.e. if someone finds this article and don’t bother reading your other posts, they will never know about the update, in effect spreading FUD… (yes, I know, there’s a trackback but honestly, not many people bother to follow these)
As far as Roy’s role when he was still at JBoss, I can only comment on the time where our contributions overlapped (I joined the project in December 2005). At that point, though, his role was more of an evangelist than a technical one. Having dealt with the code base for more than two years now, I can say for sure that Julien is the lead of the project and that Roy’s departure didn’t have a big *technical* impact. Roy was an important piece of the Portal puzzle but if you’re looking for Portal’s “star developer”, look no further than Julien. He is probably less of a public person than Roy which led to the confusion about who did what on Portal but, in the end, the truth is in the code, and when you look at it, it’s quite obvious who the real lead of the project is… 🙂
@Andy: Sacha Labourey is leading the effort to recapture JBoss’ mojo (or more precisely, the part that got diluted in the acquisition, we never completely lost it ^_^) and I think we’re on the right track…