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April Fool's joke on Sun takeover wreaks havoc

Serguei Beloussov woke up early on Tuesday to see people in the world of virtualisation commenting on the news that he had sold his company, Parallels, to Sun for US$205 million.
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Written by Colin Barker on

Serguei Beloussov woke up early on Tuesday to see people in the world of virtualisation commenting on the news that he had sold his company, Parallels, to Sun for US$205 million.

The news came as a surprise to him, especially as Beloussov is chief executive of Parallels and a man who should have a good idea of whether his company was now part of Sun.

Beloussov was the victim of an April Fool's Day joke, but as jokes go it was not a very good one, according to Parallels. The Belgian site Virtualization.com had run the story that Parallels had been bought by Sun and was playing it very straight, with the result that many did not see any joke, especially as there was no clear punchline.

What made the joke even more difficult to grasp was the fact that last year, Beloussov was thought by commentators to be on the look-out for possible partners who would come in with money to invest or perhaps purchase the company. Speculation had intensified for a time when another virtualisation company, VMware, went through a partial IPO last year.

When ZDNet.com.au sister site ZDNet.co.uk contacted Beloussov on April Fool's he made it clear that Parallels was not up for sale. "Sun buying us for US$205m, this is definitely an April Fool's joke," he said in an e-mail. "We have not and are not planning on discussing a sale with Sun."

Later in an e-mail, Beloussov made it clear that Parallels had not been involved, but had been affected by the April Fool's Day prank. "This rumour has totally skewed [our] numbers — like by [an] order of magnitude," he said.

But despite the furore caused by the spoof story, Beloussov maintains the company is in good shape. "Overall we are profitable, growing ultra-quickly — faster than our competitors, have an exciting roadmap for the next 24 months and are enjoying being independent," he stated.

Virtualization.com did put in a partial apology for getting Beloussov and his colleagues out of bed early to deal with the April Fool. "Obviously, this was an April Fool (we're in based in Europe, so it's 1 April earlier than over in the US)". Parallels is based on the US West Coast so that means the April Fool's was a whole nine hours early.

Parallels itself subsequently published a retaliatory April Fool's joke on its blog, claiming that it was to buy Sun as well as Apple, Microsoft and BMW.

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