Other ticker symbols considered included WTF, OOPS and OUCH. In case you haven’t heard, My Little Pony announced yesterday that they’re going to lose buckets of money and take some huge charges related to some acquisitions. See their press release here. Of course the villain in all this is the economy. Not My Little Pony. Nope, he’s been doing a great job. Like paying $4.1 billion for StorageTek, an aging tape storage company. Or paying $1 billion for MySQL, a software company best known for giving its product away at no cost. Other smart moves by MLP include open-sourcing Sun’s software, so that it generates less revenue. Plus some keen window-dressing, like a one-for-four reverse stock split and a stock ticker name change to JAVA. Yep, the board is so happy with MLP that last year they paid him $11 million — up from $7.7 million the year before. MLP said in a statement that the company is “positioned to offer the kinds of products that can radically help customers reduce expenditures.” In other words, this downturn is actually gonna be good for us.
For what it’s worth, I happened to be visiting Sun just as the last downturn was beginning. This was for a big cover profile in Forbes which ran in January 2001. (You can see it here.) McNealy and Zander were running the place and they were as arrogant as any team I’d ever run into in tech. Here was Zander explaining why a downturn in the economy would be good for Sun:
“I think there’s going to be a shift in capital spending, and it’s going to be lucky for us,” Zander says. “I don’t care who you are—if you’re General Motors or Deutsche Telekom, you’re going to keep investing in Internet infrastructure and dot-comming your company, because that’s going to let you gain global advantage and be more competitive.”
McNealy has stepped aside and is now chairman. Zander went to Motorola, drove it into the weeds, and then left.