Marge Breya, BEA senior vice president and chief marketing officer, called me after reading my post about Oracle's reported acquisition hunger for open source companies, including JBoss. She's not a fan of JBoss, a BEA competitor, especially after doing due some due diligence on the open source company. "JBoss has been shopped around for months. We passed on it. The valuation couldn't pass the sniff test when we took a look at the business model," Breya said. "When we were looking at it, the number was nowhere near $400 million [as reported by BusinessWeek], and we couldn't make it work from a numbers standpoint. If Oracle is paying that much, it will have a hard time justifying it to Wall Street and shareholders, but I am sure they will find a way."
She said that the only reason to acquire and open source company is for the community aspect, as exemplified by Apache or Eclipse communities. "JBoss is closed from a contribution standpoint--it's open source with a closed community...a bit like calling Cuba a democracy," Breya said. "The whole point of open source is to get a community. so unless Oracle has a fundamental problem with its own application server, which possible, you would think they have enough developers already to fix their current generation."
Oracle's acquistion strategy is comparable is building a Winchester Mystery House, Breya contends, taking a bunch of disparate applications and fusing them together. "When was the last time we saw a successful company integrating that many things at the same time," she said. BEA's blended strategy, she added, gets the best of both open source and closed, such as running Apache Tomcat within an Eclipse tool with BEA's WebLogic management console. She's looking forward to Oracle buying more stuff to keep them preoccupied with building the mystery house.
Well, I wouldn't count out Oracle, or JBoss, but then I'm not chief of marketing at BEA.