Connecting the Dots

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2008-02-15 Print this article Print

So why offer even $5 million for a company that, if its debtors have their way, has a negative value?

Well Pamela Jones of Groklaw does an interesting job of connecting the dots between Bill Gates and the proposed SCO buyout

Here's how it works. Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Al Saud, a billionaire and member of the Saudi royal family, is believed to be the money man. Stephen Norris, who runs SNCP, is one of his chief financial advisers. Gates is a friend of Al-Waleed, and the two have co-operated on expanding Microsoft in Saudi Arabia. The two also joined forces to take over Four Seasons Hotels and take that company private for $3.8 billion in February 2007. So, when I say they're friends, I mean, they're friends. You don't buy 74 luxury hotels for almost $4 billion with someone you don't trust. 

With deals and friendships like this, heck, Bill could just pull out his wallet, slip Al-Waleed the $5 million and, a wink and ta-da, the SCO zombie rises up again to continue to try to give Linux trouble. What a deal! 

Personally, though, I have another theory. At this point, how much harm can SCO really do to Linux? Almost no one took it seriously when SCO first sued IBM and started making threats against Linux and its customers. Five years later, does anyone take this seriously? Does Microsoft ever gain anything by sponsoring SCO's attacks

Well, maybe Microsoft thinks that it does. After all, Steve Ballmer still trots out his annual "Linux violates Microsoft patent claims" even though those patent claims were shot down the first time he did it back in 2004. After all, it doesn't matter whether Linux IP FUD actually works; it's whether Microsoft believes that it works. 

Maybe there's another explanation though. Maybe, it's just that a sucker is born every minute. 

It's not like $5 million or, even $100 million if it comes to that, matters that much to Al-Waleed or SNCP. When you're worth in excess of $25 billion, what's a few million here or there? And, if blowing a few million makes your buddy and business partner Gates happy, you can write it off as money well spent on goodwill. 

Well, not the goodwill of IBM, Novell, Red Hat or any of the other Linux-using companies that have to deal with SCO's insurance lawsuits of course, but what does that matter?


I'm editor-at-large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. That's a fancy title that means I write about whatever topic strikes my fancy or needs written about across the Ziff Davis Enterprise family of publications. You'll find most of my stories in Linux-Watch, DesktopLinux and eWEEK. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, I worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects.

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