CEO: JBoss Is Not for Sale (For Now)

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2006-03-30
 
 
 

CEO: JBoss Is Not for Sale (For Now)


If youre waiting for the deal between Oracle and JBoss to occur, youre going to have to wait a bit longer to learn when or even whether it will happen.

JBoss CEO Marc Fleury broke his silence about acquisition rumors in a wide-ranging interview with eWEEK regarding the companys business and technology strategies.

Fleury started out the interview by saying he would not comment on "rumors," but that he has no plans to sell JBoss in the near future.

However, as has been reported across the business and technology press, Oracle has been alleged to have an interest in acquiring JBoss for prices ranging from $300 million to $480 million.

"Im firmly here and committed to the future of JBoss," Fleury said. "And the future is going to be bright and consistent with what weve done so far. There are many options in front of JBoss. There always were… And whatever option is in front of us, if we choose it, it will be because we strongly feel that thats the way to continue with our mission."

Whats behind the speculation that Oracle plans to acquire JBoss? Click here to read commentary from eWEEK News Editor Lisa Vaas.

Yet, when asked how folding into a larger company could help the JBoss mission, Fleury said, "Were a small entity fighting a big boys battle and at some point the game becomes financial," noting that JBoss may need more capital to fully deliver on its mission.

"I need to make money for my guys," Fleury said. "Thats my fiduciary duty and thats my ambition. But its a step; its not a goal, its not an exit," he said.

"People say whats your exit; when do you leave the stage?" Fleury said. "Im not leaving the stage…" he said, indicating he has no desire to cash out or leave the business he started.

"So there was a starting point, an entry," Fleury said. "There is naked ambition that makes us go on. There is no exit. Its a necessary step that we need to do to further our goal, which is to transform the way software is developed, distributed and supported.

"And I need a stepping stone somewhere—a financial one, a corporate one—that is 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? Its not going to be BEA. IBM disqualifies by now."

However, Fleury did not mention Oracle in that list.

He continued, "That is my fiduciary duty. Is it what I work toward? No, but I know I need to do that at some point. We need finances to grow the company."

Meanwhile, Fleury blasted BEA Systems, particularly BEAs chief marketing officer, Marge Breya, for comments she made about JBoss attempting to shop itself around.

"I was extremely surprised by Marge Breyas comments in the press," Fleury said. "I thought they were completely unprofessional. I dont know her. I dont know who she is and I dont know what she does. But she seems to have a strong opinion about my personality and about my company. To claim that theyve done an audit is just a lie."

Breya could not be reached for comment before this story ran.

Moreover, Fleury said, "I want to say very clearly that as soon as the rumors came out [about Oracle] they seem to have panicked a little bit. And I want to make it very clear that I would have never, ever sold to a company like BEA… BEA is a company that doesnt pass the sniff test.

"Maybe somebody said something to somebody and it got confused. But to claim they did an audit, that is just not true. Its a company I would never go to. Going there would be the death of our development model, the death of our distribution model and our support structure. It is just too conflicted a company with its own agenda to even think about doing business there."

Next Page: JBoss team would stay intact.

JBoss Team Would Stay


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Indeed, Fleury said, "I resent the way IBM and BEA tried to characterize this, which proves to what point they were panicked about this rumor. Saying theyre trying to sell themselves…"

In short, Fleury said, "The allegation that JBoss had a For Sale sign on it is just false. Weve been approached, and were always evaluating these options. Did we ever go out and tell somebody we wanted to sell? Never! I personally did not try to sell the company. And if anybody did they were not speaking for me."

In addition, Fleury bristled at suggestions that he was just in it for the money. He said even should JBoss merge with a larger company he wants to keep his team and their projects intact.

"One of the criteria of a potential merger is divisional control" for Fleury, because "Im not going anywhere," he said, meaning that he intends to maintain control of the JBoss core technology and team.

"Had this been 1999 wed have been public three years ago," Fleury said. "We are the product of the nuclear winter of IT," and it is harder for a startup to go public now, he said. However, JBoss will start "showing our numbers soon," because the company is organizing as if to go public, he said.

Asked if there is a "magic number" at which JBoss would sell, Fleury said there is no particular number, particularly if the situation is not right. He will not sell for the sake of selling.

However, in terms of a valuation for the company, he said. "Look at Red Hats numbers and apply that [formula] to our numbers and youll have a valuation," Fleury said, adding, "And very soon were going to be too expensive for anybody."

Fleury would not comment on any talks with Oracle or whether or how they may be ongoing or have broken down.

However, he quipped: "You can send an e-mail to marcfleury@oracle.com and see what would happen. It will bounce."

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