As someone who'd been involved in Utah's high tech industry for a dozen years, I watched the founding and growth of Ray Noorda's Canopy Group with some interest and excitement. Before there were many VCs in Utah, Canopy was there, funding start-ups. I never spoke to Ray about it directly, but I think there were a couple of motivations: (1) build-up high tech firms in Utah, particularly greater Provo, and (2) provide a funding stream for his charitable contributions. Unlike most VC's, Noorda funded Canopy almost entirely on his own and, I was told a few years ago, it was done as debt that has since been paid back. Canopy has funded dozens of companies and its hard to find a high tech firm in the valley that has taken at least a little Canopy money.
Now it all seems to be crashing down like the storyline from a bad soap opera. For those of you who haven't been keeping score, Noorda's hand-picked successor at Canopy (and the former CEO of Noorda Family Trust), Ralph Yarro, was called to a board meeting on Dec 17 and fired. That action was driven by Noorda's daughter, Val Noorda Kriedel. A Deseret News article, has some details, including quotes from court affidavits. One of the most shocking lowlights in this drama is the suicide of one Canopy employee shortly after all this happened--apparently due to the stress of the situation.
At this point, naturally, Noorda's daughter and Yarro will be duking it out in the courts. I was shocked and angry to see Canopy, through SCO, go after Linux, but it didn't surprise me because I understood the core beliefs that the active participants, including Yarro, had in intellectual property and aggressively protecting any claims to that IP. I know a number of the executives in many of the Canopy Group's portfolio companies. None of them are anxious to talk about the problems of their parent or SCO. Still, I think that as the SCO lawsuit has gone from bad to worse, the players in the Canopy drama thought it was time to act. Now it seems that the end game from SCO's lawsuit might be Canopy's implosion.