Naked Ambition

By eweek  |  Posted 2006-04-10 Print this article Print

You were asked recently about your exit strategy and you said there was no exit strategy, but that there was just naked ambition. What did you mean by that? Has it been revised at all? No, and it maps to what I have been talking to you about. I have told you our vision—to change the way software is developed, distributed and supported. Thats not an exit, thats a goal. People talk about an exit as if its the end of the adventure—play the game, make money, go lie on the beach. Thats not what were doing.
I need to make money for my guys. Thats my fiduciary duty and thats my ambition. But its a step; its not a goal, its not an exit. People say whats your exit? When are you leaving the stage? I am not leaving the stage. Yeah, were going to make a ton of money. Be sure of that. Because I can get this army to march on. So there was a starting strategy; there is no exit. Its naked ambition that makes us go on. There is no exit, there is a necessary step that we need to do to further our goal. And I need a steppingstone somewhere, a financial one, a corporate one whos going to help us get to that next stage. Is it the public market thats going to help us? Thats one option. Is it a bigger company thats going to help us? What company is going to help us do that? It aint going to be BEA. IBM disqualifies I think by now. But I need finances to grow the company. I need access to investment capital to build out the plan and everything we need to do. And thats not an exit, thats just a step. But is there a company? I mean to listen to how you speak today I dont see that theres anybody that will allow you to do everything you want to do—maintain tight control, keep the "community" intact, and so on. You dont really think so? You may be right. I dont know. The other issue is people say youre going to cash out if you sell the company and well never hear from you again. That is crap. As you know I enjoy being the joker. I relish that. I am not going anywhere. I almost wish we were born 30 years ago and open source was there 30 years ago when it was an open field and you could become a huge company overnight. Today youve got layers and layers and layers of companies that you have to go through, and each is financially more powerful than the other as you go through. And thats a tough game to play when you get into the numbers. And its a consolidating industry as opposed to an exploding industry. Had this been 1999 even, wed have been public almost three years ago. But Im not complaining. We are the product of the nuclear winter in IT, post-1999. People embraced us because were the cheaper option and were having a blast. For people to say were going to cash out is wrong. No, no, no, no, no; thats really not knowing us. What people dont understand is that some people at JBoss have already made money. Weve never really publicly talked about that, but Ive already made money. I already drive a fancy car and Ive already taken care of a lot of things financially. So have many folks in the company. And still I dont sleep at night when theres stupid stuff going on like all the rumors and stuff like that. One journalist came to me and said we heard the Oracle deal fell apart because you were going to walk away. Well, that was rumors on top of rumors. But those who know me know Im not walking anywhere. In fact, I would mention this as the criteria of any potential merge, but divisional control is a big issue. That means Im not going anywhere, and if you want this to work you need me here. And I want to be here. So if somebodys going to offer me a platform to blow it out, Im interested. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.


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