Google's acquisition of the Java and Ajax technology and assets from Instantiations is a win both for Google and its Java tooling future, as well as for Smalltalk developers the world over.
Google acquired the highly regarded Java and Ajax tools business, including the company's Eclipse team, from
Instantiations for an undisclosed amount. Instantiations made its name (and
revenue) selling tools for Java developers as well as for Smalltalk developers.
Now, with the proceeds of the sale, Instantiations' CEO Mike Taylor said he and
the Smalltalk side of the company will hold onto the Instantiations name and
work to grow the Smalltalk business.
Google gets a proven team of
developers, including several seasoned veterans of the Eclipse community.
Instantiations was a founding member of the Eclipse Foundation and Taylor's name has been nearly synonymous
with Eclipse, as he has held various positions of authority in the
In a Twitter "Tweet" about the
acquisition, Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation,
said, "I am thrilled for the Instantiations team. The Google acquisition is
great news for the Eclipse community as well."
However, it was the company's move to
support Google's platform and in particular the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) that
clearly caught Google's eye. At the most recent Google I/O developer conference
Francisco, Instantiations released an updated version of its GWT
Designer, GWT Designer version 7.5. GWT Designer helps developers rapidly
create GUIs in Eclipse and GWT/Java and then deploy them as Web applications,
In a letter to Instantiations'
customers, Taylor said:
"In brief, we have entered into an
agreement with Google in which they have purchased our highly regarded Java
products, technology, and business. Our VA Smalltalk business, products,
personnel...and commitment...continue independent and uninterrupted, except that
now the new Instantiations (yes, we kept the name) will focus exclusively on
"This may be the most significant
news our VA Smalltalk community has experienced since Instantiations and IBM joined forces in 2005--a
relationship that remains strong and unchanged as we move forward."
Taylor further explained in his letter that
he will continue as president and CEO of the new Smalltalk-focused
Instantiations. Founder Eric Clayberg will join Google, but will also continue
as a director/board member, technical advisor and major shareholder of
Instantiations. Principal Smalltalk architect John O'Keefe will assume an even
stronger role guiding the technical development and advancement of the
company's VA Smalltalk technology. And Chuck Shawan will continue working with
customers as Instantiations' vice president of sales.
Meanwhile, during a conference call
with customers on Aug. 5, Taylor could hardly contain his glee over
the opportunity the sale of the Java assets creates for himself and the team he
helped put together.
"We're extremely excited about both
halves of this new development for the company," Taylor said. "We're excited for our Java
business to go to Google - an excellent home it. And the Smalltalk group is
excited about being in a new mode where we can focus on Smalltalk."
Clayberg added: "We're very excited
by the way things have happened and also happy that Instantiations will
continue to go forward and grow the Smalltalk business, and continue to be
Indeed, "Our plan is to leverage some
of the money we've all made in the Google transaction" to keep the Smalltalk
business rolling, Taylor said. However, "our Smalltalk
business is showing significant revenue growth year-over-year since we got it,"
he added. The business has been profitable and self-sustaining, he said. And to
quell any concerns about the future of the business, Taylor ensured customers that he and his
leadership are not just geeks (despite Taylor personally having been coding
Smalltalk since 1984). "We see this as a viable business, and we plan to make
it work." he said, adding, "We both have MBAs, and Eric's is from Harvard.
We're confident we can not just keep this alive but grow it."
Taylor said he expects to gain some
converts from IBM's and Cincom's Smalltalk platforms. In addition to being a founding
member of Eclipse, Instantiations also was a founding member of the Smalltalk
Meanwhile, asked why Google did not
acquire Instantiations' Smalltalk business, Taylor said although he could not speak for
Google, "Google is a very large company and they have their own visions and
ambitions. Java is only one of many technologies they're involved in. They're
looking at their world and they said they needed some more Java expertise. They
weren't ready to bite off a whole -nother new technology. They wanted something
they could immediately leverage."
Although some outlets have described
Instantiations as a "startup," that is far from the case -- the company was
founded in 1997 and has offices in Portland, Ore., and Raleigh, N.C. Rather, Instantiations has toiled
as a band of software craftsmen turning out tools to help developers' work
faster, easier and more productively. Instantiations also is an IBM Business Partner. With a line of
products for Eclipse, IBM Rational, JBuilder and MyEclipse, the company is named as
one the fastest-growing Oregon companies four years running. And
while other such companies have folded, fortunately for Taylor and his crew,
Google took notice. Hats off.
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.