11 Sep 2000 thull   » (Journeyer)

Last week (Thursday 7 Sept 2000) SCO laid off 190 employees. I was one of them.

The layoff was in preparation for finalizing the acquisition by Caldera of SCO's Server Software and Professional Services divisions. The layoffs should save the Caldera something like $5-7M/Q, which given that SCO's non-Tarantella divisions lost $10M last Q, and that Caldera itself lost some $7M in its last Q, isn't enough to make the new combine whole, but is a start.

The company line is that the people who were laid off were "redundant", and certainly there was some of that here. But there may also be some sort of behind-the-scenes battle for the soul of the new company. Certainly, one reason that SCO has been losing money all year is that it has faced ever stiffer competition from Linux, and that they are selling out to a Linux company can be viewed as capitulation. However, the Linux company in question (Caldera) is only generating $1.2M/Q in revenues, whereas SCO's Server/Services groups still account for $25M/Q. Even with the layoffs (and I've heard that Caldera laid people off, too, but not how many), SCO will still account for 75% or more of the combine's employees.

What may have made me "redundant" was that I was one of the few SCO employees working on open source projects -- specifically, the long-promised Linux port of sar (which also got shelved last week). SCO tended to view such projects as good will generators, but it's not too hard to imagine that the SCO managers who drew up the pink slip lists now see that as an unnecessary luxury since Caldera already enjoys all the good will it needs.

Or it may have just been a mercy killing: I had long argued that SCO's proprietary OS business was a dead-end, and that they had to move aggressively into Linux; that the real way to build a Linux business is through service, not proprietary bundling; and that what little value UnixWare still has is as historical legacy. None of these efforts amounted to a thing (other than possibly wearing my welcome out). It's been the most frustrating thing I've ever attempted to do, and I should be glad to put it behind me. (Keep telling myself that.)

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