After helping to get Sun's OpenSolaris onto its own two feet, Sun's director of marketing for the open source project Claire Giordano has announced (via blog) her departure to Amazon.com search subsidiary A9. Giordano was with Sun for 16 years and her departure is a reminder to me of at least two things.
First, of A9's existence. I had completely forgotten about the Amazon project and I guess now is as good a time as ever to remember that Amazon, much like Google, is a company with significant reach and that, also, much like Google, it will be looking for new ways to leverage that reach. We may not think of Amazon as a big league search player in the same way that we think of Google, Yahoo, or MSN. But I suspect that will change. I just revisited the A9 Web site and actually liked what I saw: that I could categorically control the scope of my search. To me, for example, the delineation between a Web search, a news search, and a blog search (between Google and some other blog search engines, I often find myself executing each of these separately) make no sense. Today, A9 vertically divides the results page on the basis of the silos you search. It's better than conducting three separate searches. But not significantly better. I can't help but wonder if there's a better way to blend the results. I expect we'll be hearing more about A9 now that it will be sprinkled with Giordano-dust much the same way OpenSolaris was. Giordano's official new title is director of product management.
Second, blogging and technology marketing (tech at the very least, if not all marketing) go hand in hand. Giordano had a number of strengths that helped OpenSolaris to rise from obscurity over a very short period of time. But moving forward, the people who fill the jobs like the one she's leaving will need to be marketing maniacs who can do all the traditional marketing stuff with one hand while holding the blogosphere equivalent of a megaphone in the other, marshaling a community of passionate loyalists (employees, partners, developers, customers, onlookers, passers-by, etc.) and leading the discussion about anything that's even remotely connected to whatever it is they're hocking. With more frequent blogs that point all over the Web, Bob Sutor is turning into just such an evangelist for IBM (in addition to his day job as Big Blue's veep of open source and open standards). How he finds the time, I have no idea. Microsoft, with all of its bloggers, has embraced this way of thinking as company religion. At least with Microsoft, everybody appears to be sharing the load (although going too far significantly worsens the signal to noise ratio).
Giordano herself will have to become just such a maniac on behalf of A9 to help it rise from obscurity. Perhaps proving that 24 hours just isn't enough time in a day, some of Sun's more prolific executives including the company's chief open source officer Simon Phipps have dialed back their loquaciousness. Phipps has two blogs. The lights are on at his personal blog WebMink which he keeps up to date on a daily basis, but it's less thought leadership and more one liners. Meanwhile, his official Sun blog (SunMink) has slowed down from a fairly steady flow to a trickle since taking over that role in Sun. Maybe it's because of Phipps' grueling travel scheduled, detailed in this US News & World Report story (or maybe he just needs an off-line blog authoring tool for those long flights). Fortunately for Sun, Phipps won't have to stretch himself to cover for Giordano's absence. To some extent, OpenSolaris community manager Jim Grisanzio already serves in that role for OpenSolaris. What's funny is that I hunted down his blog and found that his last post is discussing precisely the same issue, only in the context of something that Sun president and COO Jonathan Schwartz said about a new breed of manager at Sun during a recent Churchill Club engagement:
New managers will have to understand that they are managing a community. If you look at how our software is built at Sun, it's built in 28 countries around the world. Give me a break ... you can not possibly manage 9 time zones on your direct staff. You have to figure out how to build a community and manage a community.
Meanwhile, according to the US News story, Phipps is still trying to manhandle the globe. It'll probably kill him. So, must Schwartz's way of thinking apply only to software and platform companies? Or does it work everywhere? Instead of willing something to success, can you blog it to success? The aforementioned USNews.com story seems to confirm that such maniacism is on order. In his call to action, CooperKatz VP Steve Rubel strikes a similar chord.
Now, if only we could wirelessly transmit our thoughts into our computers....
[Editor's note: Where the word maniac (or a derivative) appears, I originally had megalomaniac. But in hindsight, that was a bad choice of words since I really meant someone who is very driven, almost maniacally so, but in a passionate, positive way. This is not the definition of megalomaniac. Thus the changes.]