Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
1/24/2010
02:49 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Sun CEO's Farewell: Sun Is A Brand, Oracle's Your Company

With the 9-month Oracle-Sun saga about to close-or rather to begin-all of the strategy speculation and MySQL melodrama and EU equivocation has made it easy to overlook the real core of this whole deal: Sun's people. In a farewell memo to the Sun team, CEO Jonathan Schwartz provides an elegant reminder that the two greatest technologies the world will ever know are the human brain and the human heart.

With the 9-month Oracle-Sun saga about to close-or rather to begin-all of the strategy speculation and MySQL melodrama and EU equivocation has made it easy to overlook the real core of this whole deal: Sun's people. In a farewell memo to the Sun team, CEO Jonathan Schwartz provides an elegant reminder that the two greatest technologies the world will ever know are the human brain and the human heart.Schwartz's memo honorably addresses all the key issues that such an acquisition generates: not only the great new opportunities and synergies, but also the inevitable layoffs and the requirement that Sun's employees swallow their culture and embrace Oracle's.

Along those lines, two comments in particular from Schwartz deserve to be highlighted:

Upon change in control, every employee needs to emotionally resign from Sun. Go home, light a candle, and let go of the expectations and assumptions that defined Sun as a workplace. Honor and remember them, but let them go.

And:

But it's important you come to work thinking, "Sun is a brand, Oracle's my company." Don't look for ways to preserve or dwell in "how we used to do things." Look for ways to help customers, grow the market, and improve Oracle's performance.

Sun is a brand, Oracle is your company.

Powerful stuff. The whole memo is a good reminder for all of us about the need to keep things in perspective, to embrace what is helpful and to release what's distracting and what's rooted only in the past.

As you read Schwartz's compelling memo, you might also want to take a look for the secret message embedded in the memo that Digital Daily blogger John Paczkowski says can be found by stringing together the first letter in each of the first seven paragraphs. The message, he says, reveals Oracle/Sun's real aspiration and a parting exhortation from Schwartz.

Here's Schwartz's memo:

Believe it or not, it's been more than nine months since Oracle first announced their intent to acquire Sun in April, 2009. And the 'interim' period has been tough on everyone-on our employees, and our partners and customers. Thankfully, that interim period is coming to an end, with regulatory approval from the European Union issued today, and only a few hurdles remaining-before Oracle formally expands beyond software to become the world's most important systems company.

Even though we're not quite across the finish line, I wanted to leave you with a few final thoughts.

All in all, it's been an honor and privilege to work together. In my more than twenty years in the industry, the last thirteen at Sun, I've had a chance to work with and around an enormous diversity of companies, from every sector you can imagine. I can say with conviction that Sun's people have always stood apart as the brightest, most passionate, and most inspiring. I've never had a bad day in my thirteen years for one very basic reason-I've always been surrounded by the best and brightest individuals I've ever come across. That's been an honor and privilege, for which I'm enormously thankful.

Technology from Sun, alongside our employees and partners, have changed the world. We've opened markets, elections and economies. We've helped build the world's most important and valuable businesses. We've played a key role in discovering new drugs, in bringing education and healthcare to those in need, and supplying the world with an incredible spectrum of entertainment, from smartphones to social networking. I doubt any company has had such a significant influence over the way we see or experience the world. I once told Scott McNealy he was the Henry Ford of the technology industry, making remarkable innovations accessible to anyone, and creating an immense number of jobs around the globe for those that made use of them. I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of my association with that cause and the people behind it, and the value we created for ourselves and those that exploited our innovations.

I also know we've had more than our share of very tough challenges. Amidst the toughest market and customer situations imaginable, I'm proud we've always acted with integrity, with a sense for what's right, and not simply what's expedient. Over the years, I've heard time and again, from those inside and outside the company, "I like and I trust Sun."

Building that good will is something to which you've all contributed. And you have every right to be very proud of it.

Make no mistake, it's been an enormous asset.

So, to the sales and SE teams across the world who continually give their all to bring the numbers home-thank you for the trust you've built with customers, and the results you've delivered. I hope you're prepared to have the wind at your back, you deserve it.

To the service professionals who every day build, maintain and run the world's most important data centers-thank you for your excellence and discipline, 7×24.

To the professionals who run the functions and processes that are the company's spinal column-thank you, we'd be paralyzed without you.

And lastly-to the engineers and marketers who've fostered a perpetual belief that innovation creates its own opportunity-thank you. You're right. Innovation does create its own opportunity. Like Oracle, we're an engineering company in our heart and soul, our potential together is limitless.

Now many of you know that I came to Sun when a company I helped to found was acquired in 1996. I've also led, and been a part of many, many acquisitions at Sun, both large and small. From those experiences, I've learned one very clear lesson-the single most important driver of a successful acquisition are the people involved-and how committed they are to the new owner's mission.

And the most effective mechanism I've seen for driving that commitment begins with a simple, but emotionally difficult step.

Upon change in control, every employee needs to emotionally resign from Sun. Go home, light a candle, and let go of the expectations and assumptions that defined Sun as a workplace. Honor and remember them, but let them go.

For those that ultimately won't become a part of Oracle, this will be the first step in a new adventure. Sun has a tremendous reputation across the planet, well beyond Silicon Valley. It's a great brand to have on your resume. We're known as self-starters, capable of ethically managing through complexity and change, for delivering when called upon, and for inventing and building the future. With the world economy stabilizing, I'm very confident you'll land on your feet. You're a talented, tenacious group, and there's always opportunity for great people.

For those that have roles at Oracle, may you start with a clean slate, ready to take on the myriad opportunities ahead. With the same passion and tenacity for Oracle's success that you've had for Sun's, and a renewed sense of energy around executing on a far broader mission. There is no doubt in my mind you, and Oracle, will be remarkably successful, beyond the market's wildest expectations. But it's important you come to work thinking, "Sun is a brand, Oracle's my company." Don't look for ways to preserve or dwell in "how we used to do things." Look for ways to help customers, grow the market, and improve Oracle's performance.

Sun is a brand, Oracle is your company.

And to that end, with nine months of getting to know them, I've found Oracle to be truly remarkable, led by remarkable people. From Larry on down, they understand the enormity of the opportunity before them, and they're more than prepared to execute on it-across the board. I've seen their commitment and focus, now they need yours. I'm confident you'll give it the 10,000% effort it deserves-and we'll all see the end result.

So thank you, again, for the privilege and honor of working together. The internet's made the world a far smaller place-so I'm sure we'll be bumping into one another.

Go Oracle!

Jonathan

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