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"Father of Java" Resigns From Sun/Oracle 396

Posted by timothy
from the oracle-must've-seen-that-coming dept.
Thrashing Rage writes "James Gosling has confirmed he is leaving Sun/Oracle: 'Yes, indeed, the rumors are true: I resigned from Oracle a week ago (April 2nd). I apologize to everyone in St. Petersburg who came to TechDays on Thursday expecting to hear from me. I really hated not being there. As to why I left, it's difficult to answer: just about anything I could say that would be accurate and honest would do more harm than good. The hardest part is no longer being with all the great people I've had the privilege to work with over the years. I don't know what I'm going to do next, other than take some time off before I start job hunting.'"
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"Father of Java" Resigns From Sun/Oracle

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  • One of Many (Score:5, Informative)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:47PM (#31804340)
    Several of the biggest names at Sun have departed since the Oracle merger. The memories of Sun are fading fast. IBM probably would have been a better suitor for Sun than Oracle, but now it's all over but the crying.
    • Re:One of Many (Score:5, Interesting)

      by binarylarry (1338699) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:54PM (#31804390)

      My bet is he'll be at Google before the end of the year.

    • Re:One of Many (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ls671 (1122017) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:00PM (#31804422) Homepage

      > IBM probably would have been a better suitor

      This is interesting and I am tempted to agree.

      Of course Sun avoiding becoming bankrupt by some other financing means would have been preferable but faced with a buy-out, I think I would have preferred IBM too.

      So my question to /. is this:

      Are you and I the only ones who think IBM would have been better ?

      Second corollary question, since my judgment might be altered by my own perception of both companies :

      Am I the only one perceiving Oracle as more, so to speak, "evil" than IBM ?

      • I agree on all counts, would have preferred IBM over Oracle.
      • Re:One of Many (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash@omnif ... g minus math_god> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:09PM (#31804496) Homepage Journal

        I think IBM would've been better too. It's too bad they wanted to lowball on their offer and missed their chance.

        And, yes, I think Oracle is more "evil". I think this is for several reasons:

        1. Oracle hasn't really truly found a way to live with Open Source yet and their core database business is under threat by Open Source solutions.
        2. Oracle still makes their money on software. Making money by selling people extremely expensive software licenses only really works if you can get various kinds of locks and holds on them, if you can control their behavior. You can sell them consulting, support and hardware all day without needing any kind of lock, but not software.
        3. Oracle has very little real in-house innovation to speak of. The most innovative things I know of happening at Oracle is btrfs, and that's only really happening at Oracle because the main people who work on it are there.
        4. Oracle thinks it can kill an Open Source competitor by buying it or the technologies it relies on.

        All of those things contrast with IBM. IBM makes its money on hardware and consulting, they've mostly learned to live with Open Source (patent threats not withstanding), and there is some real innovation that happens there from time to time. And I think IBM would be smarter than to think they could really kill an Open Source project by buying it.

        • Re:One of Many (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @12:11AM (#31804890)

          Oracle and IBM ruthlessly compete in similar markets, so it's hardly fair. DB2 and Websphere are open source? IBM consultants are hardly going to recommend mysql and jboss when they could sell you their own solutions. Single vendor lock-in is just as bad!

          Oh and Oracle's core DB business? Hmmm, I could have sworn they'd moved beyond that, strategically acquiring Peoplesoft, Siebel, BEA and now Sun in recent years - employing an army of consultants to compete with IBM's.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by atomic777 (860023)
            This would be interesting if it were true. IBM consultants are quite happy to sell Oracle-based solutions and do so quite often -- the linkages between IBM software, consulting and hardware are really quite loose.
          • Re:One of Many (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Unoti (731964) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:02PM (#31808926) Journal

            Oh and Oracle's core DB business? Hmmm, I could have sworn they'd moved beyond that, strategically acquiring Peoplesoft, Siebel, BEA and now Sun in recent years - employing an army of consultants to compete with IBM's.

            The Peoplesoft acquisition is to a great extent all about strengthening their position in the database market. They bought Peoplesoft, announced that the Peoplesoft product is pretty much dying, and you should start thinking about converting to Oracle Apps (Oracle's ERP offering built on top of Oracle DB which competes against Peoplesoft). Peoplesoft runs (ran?) on multiple databases-- the user had a choice. Oracle Apps is built almost entirely on PL/SQL stored procedures, and will never, ever run on any other database than Oracle.

            Those acquisitions you mentioned (at least the Peoplesoft one, the only one that I have been closely involved with personally) are moves designed to kill serious competition and consolidating the marketplace. It's designed to acquire new customers to lock in. It's not about increasing a portfolio of knowledge and capability.

        • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @12:20AM (#31804938)

          Oracle still makes their money on software. Making money by selling people extremely expensive software licenses only really works if you can get various kinds of locks and holds on them

          It ALSO works if you produce a far better product than other solutions that scales far better.

          I don't use Oracle these days, but a decade ago it would be laughable to say Oracle did as well as they did by "locks and holds", they simply had a very powerful database that a lot of technical people liked using.

          I would wager that is still true today, though for most common business uses even MySQL is fine at this point.

          • by bennomatic (691188) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:49AM (#31805642) Homepage
            I think you're right. I work for a company which builds database driven software, and while we always have our eyes out for newer and better solutions, people I've talked to on the DEV team clearly feel that if you're looking to deliver millions of transactions per hour, Oracle's still the king of the hill.
          • In order to get into a position where you can apply the locks and holds you have to make a good product. After you get there you can stop.

            IMHO the industry is full of examples of companies that made excellent products and stopped getting any better or weren't able to move on when a new idea upset the applecart because they were so wedded to the lock-in and high profits they had with their original software, even after that software had become more of an albatross to most companies using it rather than an asset.

      • Re:One of Many (Score:5, Insightful)

        by coredog64 (1001648) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:33PM (#31804668)
        You're looking at this through the rose-tinted glasses of what might have been. Another poster downthread has already mentioned the 100% overlap in the Sun and IBM product lines. I'm not thrilled at some of the things that have played out so far, but I have a hard time seeing how it could have gone any better if IBM bought them out.
        • by ls671 (1122017)

          > You're looking at this through the rose-tinted glasses

          I couldn't agree more with you but it is sometimes enjoyable to speculate. Who knows ? It might help us taking action in events that haven't occurred yet instead of proposing an alternate path for past events.

          I re-read my posts and I thought I stated this but I haven't:
          "Of course all our speculations won't change the path that our realty took."

          In short, it remains interesting thing to play the "what if" game in order to enhance our skills. Of course

        • by ls671 (1122017)

          quoted from my own previous post:
          > I re-read my posts and I thought I stated this but I haven't:
          > "Of course all our speculations won't change the path that our
          > realty took."

          I knew I must have done it, I posted on a top level post before replying to this thread and it sounds like what I was saying.

          http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1613862&cid=31804364&art_pos=5 [slashdot.org]

      • Re:One of Many (Score:5, Insightful)

        by poor_boi (548340) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @12:00AM (#31804828)
        IBM would have absolutely been a better steward for Java. They have a controlling interest in the world's most popular Java IDE: Eclipse. And they have better ties with the open source community. And they are a generalist technology company, like Sun was. Oracle tends to specialize. But at the end of the day, too much of Sun's holdings overlapped with IBM's. IBM has their own JEE platform. They have their own hardware divisions. They even have their own Java world-class Java compiler: JDT. And they built their own JVM in Jikes. IBM would have been a better steward of Java. But Oracle had much more to gain from Sun than IBM did, and that's why they were able to offer a better deal to Sun when the chips fell.
    • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

      Several of the biggest names at Sun have departed since the Oracle merger.

      Whenever there is a merger / acquisition taking place, there bound to be some key personnels leaving.

      This is normal, very normal, nothing to cry over.

      And key techies leave their jobs all the time. It happens to Linus, to Alan Cox and to many others.

      They always seem to find other exciting things to do later. :)

    • Re:One of Many (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:18PM (#31804564) Homepage Journal

      IBM wouldn't have been any friendlier to the recent departures. The various Open Source people that Oracle fired were attached to projects that just didn't make sense for Sun. And Gosling hasn't played a major role in Java development for years.

      Anyway, recent departures are nothing compared to the folks who've been abandoning ship for the last 5 years. A huge number of key Java people (most notably Josh Bloch, who really had more to do with the Java APIs in their current form than any one person) have moved to Google. Others left Sun because they couldn't live with the idea of Java going open source.

      But the most emblematic departure, was Andy Bechtolsheim. He pretty much invented the company: Sun exists because he couldn't find an existing company that wanted to license his hardware designs. Then he left because he couldn't convince anybody that Sun needed to be less SPARC-dependent. A decade later, Sun bought up a company he had founded just to get access to the really cool x64 servers he had designed. (I worked on the documentation for one of them.) They made a big thing about getting back "Badge Number 1", but once again, they managed to drive him away. Officially he never left, but his role is so reduced, it's conspicuously a face-saving thing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Short Circuit (52384)

        (most notably Josh Bloch, who really had more to do with the Java APIs in their current form than any one person)

        You mean Josh Bloch is to Java APIs what Alan Smithee [wikipedia.org] is to films?

        (I'm sorry; I have nothing against Java, but your sentence was just too funny to pass up.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Joseph Lam (61951)

      IBM probably would have been a better suitor for Sun than Oracle, but now it's all over but the crying.

      If we're talking about only the Java part of Sun then you're probably right. But I think the hardware business of Sun is worth more to Oracle than to IBM.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:49PM (#31804350)

    Looking for a job? Get in line, buddy.

    • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:57PM (#31804812) Homepage

      You know how sometimes tech jobs request things like "Java: 15 years experience" that leave you screaming at the HR people that the language wasn't even released until 1996? While you're busy crying about that, James Gosling is going to laugh at you and take that job.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Tumbleweed (3706)

        You know how sometimes tech jobs request things like "Java: 15 years experience" that leave you screaming at the HR people that the language wasn't even released until 1996? While you're busy crying about that, James Gosling is going to laugh at you and take that job.

        Yeah, but the problem with job requests like that are things like they said Java when they really meant JavaScript, and they also want you to be an expert in .Net, databases, Photoshop and Flash, all at the same time. And they pay $18/hr.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by c (8461)

        More likely he's going to put "invented Java" on his resume, and HR is going to screen him out because "invented" isn't a number greater than or equal to 15 years.

        At least, that's how it works in the federal government...

        c.

  • Job hunting (Score:5, Funny)

    by wigaloo (897600) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:49PM (#31804352)

    I don't think James is going to be job "hunting"... Unless it is the kind of hunting where you stay at home and accept "applications" from prospective employers.

    • Re:Job hunting (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dahamma (304068) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:55PM (#31804392)

      Yup. And it seems these days "Software/Internet Pioneers" have three choices: retire, start a new company, or work at Google.

      • by wigaloo (897600)

        Yup. And it seems these days "Software/Internet Pioneers" have three choices: retire, start a new company, or work at Google.

        I wonder if working at IBM is a more likely possibility? The future of Java as a platform is in question. IBM, with a substantial Java activity, could seize the initiative here in hiring the "father of Java".

        • by Dahamma (304068)

          IBM wouldn't be unheard of, but probably not near as likely. I'm pretty sure Google is the single largest user of Java in the world today.

          Plus, both companies being in Mountain View, his new office would probably be less than a mile from his old one :)

    • by daveb (4522)

      >I don't think James is going to be job "hunting"... Unless it is the kind of hunting where you
      >stay at home and accept "applications" from prospective employers.

      Oh he's smart enough to go hunting.

      Not the kind of hunting that I would do which would involve hitting up anyone who crosses my path. He will be hunting out the next place which will be a best "fit" for him. If he sits at home waiting for someone to come to him then he might miss out on the wonderful position at a place where people don't thi

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ClosedSource (238333)

      Gosling is a smart guy, but how does hiring the inventor of Java satisfy any business objective? Has he done any real product development in the last decade?

  • Farewell sir,

    The reasons why you left are now up to speculations and it could turn out insightful in understanding the direction former Sun products will take.

  • by Megaweapon (25185) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:53PM (#31804380) Homepage

    as a rigger on Ellison's boat.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I really misread your post and at first took it for a GNAA troll.

  • just about anything I could say that would be accurate and honest would do more harm than good.

    Any ideas why? And how to fix at least some of them?

  • "just about anything I could say that would be accurate and honest would do more harm than good"? I'm gonna guess he wasn't a fan of the merger....
  • by oldhack (1037484) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:00PM (#31804418)

    This from the blog of Gosling, the man himself:

    http://nighthacks.com/roller/jag/entry/so_long_old_friend1 [nighthacks.com]

    If you browse his blog entries, you see the noose was tightening, as was expected. SUN and Oracle may both be in the Valley, but their cultures were radically different.

    Another good guys sank...

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:01PM (#31804426) Homepage

    Here's why I ask: not because he's not a smart technologist - he clearly is, and while I don't love everything about Java it was a pretty darn good idea.

    However, from a business standpoint Java was basically a disaster, because it required quite a lot of support from Sun while at the same time not giving them something they could sell. To become a standard, they had to give away the basic tools and describe the standard so that other people could make JVMs. Once they did that, there was really nothing that Sun had to sell that its competitors (including open source projects) couldn't build either better or cheaper.

    Now, you could make the same criticism of Microsoft's C# language, except that Microsoft always treated its languages as a loss leader for selling MSDN and Windows server licenses. Since Java was specifically cross-platform, it couldn't do the same for Sun.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by oldhack (1037484)
      Go to Gosling's blog directly and you would see that he saw changes unrolling not to his liking. People of his rep can roll with the punches and hang around if they wanted. So...
    • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @12:05AM (#31804860) Homepage

      Larry Ellison has already stated [informationweek.com] that he estimates Oracle was making about as much money from Java technology as Sun was. So whether or not the Java business was profitable for Sun, Oracle already knows how to productize it into profit, particularly after their purchase of BEA Weblogic [oracle.com]. They paid 8.5B for BEA [redherring.com] just to have a leading Java enterprise stack; do you really think they'd have fired Gosling when they consider Java that strategic?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Java wasn't a disaster, it was just Sun making a market for it's technologies, they had tones of servers powering the internet but you and I weren't running SPARC. So to make sure software would still be produced (this is in the days before our "polished" open source OS :-P) for these systems and to enable (closed source) developers running x86 to write code for SPARC they needed a language that had binary compatibility. I suppose they also figured (like Google does with advertising) the more devices they c

  • Not a big deal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:01PM (#31804430) Homepage Journal

    When I was at Sun, Gosling had less and less to do with actual work on Java. By the time I left the company, he seemed to be mainly an evangelist. Java was almost entirely his brainchild, of course, but it's been a long time since he contributed to it in any significant way.

    Sun had a fair number of people who were paid to do more or less what they wanted. Most of the time I was at Sun, Gosling was more or less in that category. Some of these folks did some really brilliant work, but I'm not sure they really earned the money Sun paid them. That wasn't a big deal when everybody wanted Sun's high-end hardware and there was plenty of money for this sort of thing. Towards the end, though, money got tight, and there were fewer people like that. But even during the last days, I think they really had more Blue Sky People then they could really afford.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Sorry, have to disagree, the problem is to do with management not idea generators and visionaries. Their job is to come up with ideas, management is to make the cash flow happen. Enterprise side licensing, training and certifications, better APIS, consultancy, tweaking hardware to work better on sun machines(controlled jvm on sun?) Controlling standards is no easy thing and SUN definitely did that. Problem was they couldn't tap the huge market potential. Perhaps thats what oracle is doing now, making it mo

  • for him to brush up on his vb.net skills

    and maybe he should get some ms access experience

  • by PatPending (953482) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:20PM (#31804576)
    Finally long super volatile import Ellison break instanceof native abstract class Glosling.
  • Oh good grief... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IANAAC (692242) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:21PM (#31804582)

    As to why I left, it's difficult to answer: just about anything I could say that would be accurate and honest would do more harm than good.

    Just say that you can't answer. It's very likely that it's not at all difficult to answer and you just can't talk about it.

    You did some fine work, but things have changed. That often happens.

  • ... like the lack of a pre-processor ...

    ... and making everything a class (oh - already did that one) ...

    ... and StupidlyLongNamesForSoManyThingsThatItsNotFunny (which is one reason it really needs a pre-processor - terse but readable is better than verboseAlphabetSoup).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      ... and making everything a class (oh - already did that one) ...

      The mistake was rather not making everything a class. Smalltalk has already demonstrated long ago just how elegant the whole thing can be when you go all the way.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        In Smalltalk, everything is an object, not a class. And Self demonstrated that you don't need classes for a pure OO language. So does JavaScript, for that matter, but it has its own problems (namely, Java syntax with Self semantics, which just ends up confusing everyone).

        As someone who's worked on both C and Smalltalk compilers, I'm in two minds about the preprocessor. Conditional compilation is a huge problem. If you run cc -E on the same C program on two different platforms, you will often get two d

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ClosedSource (238333)

      I'm not a big fan of Java, but the lack of a pre-processor is hardly a bad thing. Reading between the lines of what Stroustrup says about C macros, if they weren't necessary to maintain compatibility with C, he wouldn't have included them in C++ either.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swilver (617741)

      The lack of a pre-processor is probably the biggest reason why Java became so popular. It made the language both easier to maintain and easier to get started with.

      The second two you have under control yourself.

      Don't want a class for everything? You can make one and use everything as static and program like in the C days.

      Long names? Oh yes, I forgot, Java enforces a minimum name length of 20...

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki.cox@net> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:49PM (#31804778)

    Is he quitting? Will he leave all his stuff behind for garbage collectors to pick up? Or will he clean up after him by hand?

    • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @12:08AM (#31804872)
      It depends on whether any of his coworkers use him as a reference.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They asked for his help but he refused to even give any pointers.

    • Is he quitting? Will he leave all his stuff behind for garbage collectors to pick up? Or will he clean up after him by hand?

      Unfortunately, his garbage collector is non-deterministic.

  • Starbucks is convenient for unemployment.
  • by melted (227442) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:59AM (#31805410) Homepage

    Larry, can we get signed types, properties and closures now, please?

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