HP suing to stop Mark Hurd taking up his post as co-president at Oracle is potentially doing a huge favor to many Sun managers who got absorbed into Oracle. Because once he starts, he will have both the authority (which his predecessor had) and experience of computer systems (which his predecessor did not) to realize that many of them are misfit at Oracle and hasten their departure.
I have heard from reliable sources at/close to Oracle both in the Bay Area and in China that many Oracle folks have been horrified by the ex-Sun managers they have encountered. Basically, the many work-was-so-undemanding-I-can-get-by-on-nothing Sun managers cannot handle the hardnosed, hard elbowed, and frugal culture at Oracle. I am told that they talk empty words at meetings, and they can do nothing except talk. And they think everything is a given, and they do not realize that they have to do any real hard work. I also heard that many laid-off Sun employees who now work at places like IBM find it hard to adjust to demands at work – they say they have never worked so hard in their lives.
Wake up ex-Sun folks! It’s a jungle out there! I can fully understand, having spent 9 years at Sun and later worked at Microsoft (an extremely well-organized military-grade machine) and having working knowledge of how the work environment is at successful firms such as Google – ignore the halo of free lunch and 20% “free” time, it is more like a pressure cooker inside the company and layabouts do not survive long.
Sun’s culture (however it is defined) was both a blessing and a curse for the company. Without the freedom to disagree with and defy higher-ups, things like Java would never have come to life. Sun also had luck – such as buying for about $400M the business from SGI that became the most successful Sun product line, the E10000 series of servers. Sun had a really good run when its products sold themselves. However, when real competition occurred not in the research labs but in terms of operations, Sun could not cope.
We sometimes interview ex-Sun candidates and often they expect (or practically demand) that they have a work environment like the one at Sun. They had it drummed into their heads that Sun’s culture was the reason of its success. They also had it so good (and easy). Like the father character in an old American movie (I wish I can remember the title – the father returned to college after becoming rich and graduated together with his son) who only half-jokingly proclaimed to students at the graduation ceremony – “go back to school, do not venture out, it is a jungle out there”, the world wishes the best to all Sun folks.
Posted by: lgong