IBM's acquisition of Sun Microsystems was shot down as its board split into two camps---one for the deal led by CEO Jonathan Schwartz and one against led by Chairman Scott McNealy---and the consensus appears to be that McNealy has a bad case of Yahoo-itis. Meanwhile, McNealy is also bordering on delusional by thinking Sun can get a better deal.
Here's a sampling of the feedback I've been getting about Sun's decision to turn down IBM's acquisition overtures (Techmeme):
- McNealy has Jerry Yang-itis.
- McNealy has always thought more highly about Sun than anyone else has.
- McNealy can't let go of the company he founded.
- McNealy should stay on the golf course.
- McNealy has torpedoed the company and is becoming this year's Yahoo in the stupid corporate move department.
And I thought it was just me. McNealy's act got tired for me back in the last downturn. The quips got old. His keynotes got old. And the numbers stunk quarter after quarter from 2001 until Schwartz took over in April 2006.
Thus far, Schwartz has proven to be a better operator of Sun than McNealy was at the end of his tenure.
Here's a look at the annual figures (click to enlarge):
Now let's get the caveats out of the way. McNealy was whacked by a terrible technology downturn and Schwartz is just getting his. Nevertheless, Schwartz was named CEO for a reason---McNealy had lost the confidence of Wall Street after five years of losses.
This IBM-Sun saga does raise one glaring question: What does it mean when the guy operating Sun day-to-day thinks the IBM deal is a good one but the founder/visionary type who is usually doing customer meet-and-greets doesn't?
It means that there's a disconnect going on that should be pretty worrisome to anyone in Sun's circle. It also means that there's a founder who has too much pride and can't let go of his baby. And it means that Sun may have torpedoed a lot of shareholder value over that pride.
A few McNealy comments I've received:
- You can never overestimate the role perceptions play even in the face of stark reality. JAVA has floundered for an entire IT cycle and yet I'm sure many influencers within the company are SURE it's a $20 stock in waiting.
- You've probably seen it a million times in start ups (founders not being able to let go). From the outside, it looks so ridiculous, arrogant and selfish. However, I sometimes wonder how I would handle a similar situation.
- Scott thinks more of Scott McNealy than he does of his company. Scott puffs up like the GoodYear Blimp, when he's really the Hindenburg.
Top 10 Best Things About Not Being CEO10. I don't have to apologize for the stuff I say to Wall Street9. I'm no longer on the most overpaid CEO list8. I just say, "see Jonathan on that"7. I read Hockey News without guilt6. I shave even less often5. No more Sarbanes Oxley certification4. I have someone to blame3. I can sell my last business suit2. Jonathan doesn't golf, so I guess I gotta do it1. My office is very close to the men's room
"The best decision is the right decision. The next best is the wrong decision. The worst decision is no decision."