'Under the Radar' and an Interesting Rumor

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-03-20
 
 
 

All right, all right, all right ... We get the message! We can't continue going a week between blog items here. Truthfully, thanks to all of you who've sent e-mails and phoned to ask why The Station has been putting up only about one item per week here lately.

All we can say is that, well ... The Station has no excuse. There's always lots of news to report, people to interview, and events to cover--and those certainly take time each day. Scheduling all these things is time-consuming also. Most of those interviews are turned into eWEEK articles for online and the magazine, and some are finding their way into The Channel Insider and our new Mid-Market online section. But we need to make time to post items here, and we intend to do so.

Okay, all better now. Off we go.

At the moment, The Station is at the Under the Radar conference at Microsoft's campus, where 32 fledgling companies have been selected to blow their horns in 6-minute presentations in front of many Very Important Money People. The group at our table included Mitchell Kertzman (former CEO of Liberate, Sybase and Powersoft) and John Hummer, both of Hummer Winblad. HW is known for such successes as Marketwire, Wind River and The Knot, but also for flop-olas like Webvan, Napster and Pets.com. (Nobody's perfect.)

Interestingly, only five of the 32 companies have any connection at all with social networking via the Internet. A year ago, there were three times as many. This might be a clue as to whether interest has peaked in the venture capital community regarding that sector.

Instead, there are a number of IT tool companies that are gaining attention. One of them is called DeviceVM, whose Splashtop product enables instant on and off for a computer, using a Linux-powered launchpad in the BIOS that appears only seconds after one powers on. While Windows is loading in the background, for example, Splashtop-- using Linux--allows immediate Net surfing via the Firefox browser, writing up a document on OpenOffice.org, and numerous other applications.

There's more about other companies. But I'll save it until a little later; this item is getting too long.

IT Rumor Central: A former Novell executive confided to The Station that he thought Sun Microsystems may be seriously looking to acquire either his former company or Red Hat.

Why?

"Novell has SUSE Linux, and they and Sun see the world in many of the same ways. They could work well together," he said. "Red Hat has the No. 1 Linux." But Sun already has OpenSolaris. "Fine. But why not give customers a choice?"

Red Hat also is going through some major changes since CEO Matthew Szulik left the company and was replaced by the former Delta Airlines CEO. "What is that all about?" he wondered, surmising that the leading purveyor of Linux to business may in fact be a solid addition to Sun's product catalog.

Either would be expensive: Novell has about a $3 billion market cap, and Red Hat's is around $5 billion.

What's your take? Would either of those acquisitions make sense for Sun?

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