eras, endMr. Scott McNealy,
It was with great anticipation that we acknowledge your impending retirement from the world of high-powered business, and it should be noted that your accomplishments surpass any CEO's in recent memory. More than any other company, Sun Microsystems vanquished the age-old argument that if you buy IBM, then you need not worry about your job. Sun has successfully turned this mantra on its head, by re-engineering the equation to be, if you buy IBM be sure to expect Global Services to outsource your job away. Oracle, BEA, JBoss, and even Microsoft can thank you for the job you did of reigning in the monopoly of IBM consulting, by bringing the Valley back to its roots of actually producing something worth using. My friends outside of the Java world lament that Sun has not done anything to justify their position of importance in the technology world, but that is because they are not running in to IBM with frequent cause, for those who do, we all thank Scott McNealy that we do not have to rely on HP to fill the counter-balance void.
My experience with Sun started around 1996, at least that is as far back as I can remember when I was planning on starting a company someday based on the concept of a re-usable software pallette for the educational market. About that time, it became clear that Netscape was going nowhere without Java, and this ultimately led me to learn about the burgeoning Enterprise Java platform in 1998 from Mr. Dan Graves of Sun. By then, McNealy was a regularly used name to describe the impending crush of Internet sophistication. First, after accepting, I turned down an offer from Robert Half 24 hours later to join Sun, in the Sun-Netscape Alliance. The name escapes me of your lieutenant who went to AOL, created the iPlanet shop, and orchestrated the AOL-Time Warner merger, but it was at this time that I felt I had reached a point that few others would be offered: the opportunity to affect the future of Sun. You were my role model, as I stated to you in an e-mail on June 1, 2001.
In that memo, I attached the whitepaper "EJB components: The Building Blocks of Web Services" and wrote how components would vanquish the Microsoft hegemony. Your new lieutenant, Mark Tolliver, ran in to me at Java One that year (I actually hunted him down to see if my job was history for sending one up the chain of command), and he set me in the direction that would launch the Sun ONE Application Server 7, which officially killed WebSphere (sorry, Marc, you were still in the minors at the time). I think (though some would argue delusional) we played off each other rather well from that point on, as the Java side of things was being directed by me, and you were saving the company's revenue. Mr. Tolliver is a great boss, I would bet that others at his company today agree, you were a great leader. Not many people command allegiance in the form of storming halls of government in the same manner that you do. I just don't see Oracle people living for Larry the way people respond to you. Jonathan has some serious work to do, more on that in a bit.
It is with a great amount of nostalgia and some anticipation for the future that I pay my respects to your career. Unmatched is one word that comes to mind. As Khosla lived large, as Joy took credit, as Bechtolsheim dallied about, and as the rest of the IT world fed off Sun's success, there was one person with the weight of a global army on his shoulders that lived with the pressure of being the only stop-gap between IT being just another insurance industry. You are historic and worthy of all accolades that come your way. Those that sully the name today simply don't know what it takes to run companies that actually change the world. Sun under Scott McNealy has unquentionably done that. One last thing, if you choose wisely, that army will take up the call someday to your cause, maybe I will be there to help facilitate. Thank you and all the best,
P.S. Jonathan, you are entrusted with the jewels that have been built, and there are many promising things on the horizon, such as competition with Azul, the build-out of the Glassfish platform, and price wars over Opteron. I think you can do this, but it is not written somewhere that it is pre-destined you will succeed. A lot is riding on Sun's shoulders today, should you fall, others, including myself will be there to pick up where greatness is needed.