Look Whos Talking: February 12, 2001

Sometimes it pays to invest in your worst enemy. Just ask Sun Microsystems co-founder and chief scientist Bill Joy.

Sometimes it pays to invest in your worst enemy. Just ask Sun Microsystems co-founder and chief scientist Bill Joy. Even as he rides Unix to riches, Joy has been known to bet a few bucks on Microsoft. In November, Joy registered to sell nearly 3,000 Microsoft shares worth about $200,000 at the time, according to First Call/Thompson Financial.

Of course, Sun is the biggest contributor to Joys retirement fund. In November, he exercised and sold roughly 800,000 Sun options worth about $63.6 million, according to First Call. Good move. Suns stock has fallen more than 50 percent since Joy exercised and sold those shares.

> Keep a close eye on Onyx Software, a small CRM specialist in Redmond, Wash., thats growing 100 percent annually. The company recently inked a close partnership with Microsoft. But thats just the beginning, according to an executive who runs a rival CRM company. Microsoft signed a similar alliance with Great Plains Software in 1999, and ultimately purchased the company in 2000. My CRM source is betting that Microsoft will follow the route with Onyx sometime next year.

> IQ Systems is working on a new phone system that uses two strands of wire from existing PC networks. The phone system runs parallel to a customers Ethernet network, apparently giving data resellers an easy entry into the voice market. Plug a phone into the network, and IQs software automatically discovers and configures the new device. The approach sounds similar to Suns Jini, but IQs system uses peer-to-peer communications, rather than bulky downloads from a back-end server. Let me know if you get a dial tone.

> RiverStone Systems, the first of four Cabletron spin-offs, plans to go public sometime this month. The company makes high-end networking hardware for service providers.

> Novells caching spinout, Volera, certainly sounds promising. Nortel Networks and Accenture are investing time and money in the new company. And top Novell veterans like Drew Major are jumping on the Volera bandwagon. But history certainly isnt on Novells side. Joint businesses with AT&T and Netscape went nowhere. Anybody else remember Univel and Novonyx?

Im willing to give Novell the benefit of the doubt—again. But I think partners are running out of patience.