MB: Do you see PAAS complementing existing platforms out there? Or as a replacement strategy? How do you see this evolving?
MA: If you're Salesforce.com or Ning, you're using a lot of piece parts from the old world to build the new - servers, Linux, an operating system. We even use Oracle as our foundational layer for the multi-tenant database we've built.
From a developer standpoint, we're representing a new style platform to our users. They never deal with an operating system, SQL, a piece of hardware. There's never any awareness of what router they're using, how storage is configured, how the OS is configured. It's purely programming at HTML and the scripting layer. For developers, that's a very big shift.
Sun is going to be an arms supplier to new companies building platforms like Salesforce.com and Ning. In the fullness of time we'll see how everyone else acts.
There's a lot of potential growth. The roles are shifting of who customers are and ultimately what developers can do
MB: What does this do for industry at the end of the day? What's the big value add?
MA: A lot of people in the world today - if you tell them you have to buy servers, fire walls, etc. [to build an application] and if they had to exist in rural Wisconsin where I grew up [it wouldn't happen].
Today, someone is able to go on Ning, on Amazon or on Force.com [and build apps]. Even if you look at Silicon Valley there are more and more start ups - more start ups that I am investing in - that are launching with the concept that they will never have to deal with an infrastructure.
I'm seeing two types of start ups: start ups building platforms, which is interesting; and start ups building apps, where all they have is a bunch of laptops to get on the Web to start building applications. They can run a transaction through PayPal and advertising through Google Ads. They can run their internal system on Google Apps and they never buy anything but a bunch of laptops.
There's going to be a lot more people in the world going completely virtual.
MB: Do you see that happening now? Or are we going to see these emerge in new countries, new regions? Or will Silicon Valley dominate?
MA: Silicon Valley has critical mass and all the talent used to doing all these things, but I am seeing more and more start ups that are completely virtual. As an investor, the capital startup - if all the sudden able to be completely virtual, running on other platforms - then all the sudden the need for up-front capital is very light. So the financial risk of investing is much lighter. The [implications] are huge.