Danese Cooper, widely known in open source circles as Sun's Open Source Diva, is leaving Sun Microsystems for an as-of-yet undislosed open source-related role at Intel Corporation. The news comes on the heels of another key departure from Sun; that of 17-year Sun veteran and chief of Sun Services Marissa Peterson.
Cooper's departure may be perceived by some as a blow to Sun which has had its fair share of difficulties in working with the open source community. Cooper was family at Sun. Although she and fellow Open Source Initiative officer (and now temporary president) Michael Tiemann (of Red Hat) claim that their executive status with the OSI affords their employers no special status or inside track in the open source community, having such influential open source players on their payrolls has been a win for Red Hat and Sun in other, more subtle ways (if for no other reason that just the networking alone). As subtle as they may be, those benefits will now accrue to Intel, which speaks softly in open source circles but has carried a huge stick (its budget for open source initiatives may very well exceed that of any company in the industry).
It was obvious that something was up when she switched blog hosts from a Sun hosted blog to a blogs.com hosted one. Said Cooper in a telephone interview earlier today "I'm proud of the work we -- the open source vanguard at Sun -- have done. I'm leaving behind a lot of people who get it and are committed to making open source work at Sun. I'm really excited to be joining a company that's more integral to the open source community than most people realize. While I can't say exactly what I'll be doing, rest assured that at Intel, I'll still be the Open Source Diva and I'll also still retain my role as an officer of the Open Source Initiative."
No word from Sun yet on whether it's looking to fill Cooper's shoes and if so, who it will fill them with. Sun has other several respected open source voices on its roster including Tim Bray, Jim Grisanzio, and Simon Phipps. Commenting on Cooper's departure, a Sun spokesperson said, "We wish Danese the best in her new endeavors. Sun's commitment to the open source community remains unwavering. We'll continue to work closely with developers, customers and partners around the world to broaden community participation, expand choice, and grow global markets." Intel was not available for comment at the time I published this post but if they chime in with a comment, I'll update this entry.