Java Founder Gosling Joins Google

Java founder James Gosling has joined Google, but his role at the search-engine giant remains unclear. Gosling lands at Google after a high-profile exit from Oracle.

Google has snatched up Java founder James Gosling.

"Through some odd twists in the road over the past year, and a tardis encountered along the way, I find myself starting employment at Google today," Gosling wrote in a March 28 posting on his blog. "I find it odd that this time I'm taking the road more travelled by, but it looks like interesting fun with huge leverage."

"Tardis" is a reference to the time machine disguised as a vintage London telephone box in the British television show Doctor Who.

As to Gosling's actual role within the Googleplex, that remains unclear. "I don't know what I'll be working on," he wrote. "I expect it'll be a bit of everything, seasoned with a large dose of grumpy curmudgeon."

Gosling helped birth Java in the early 1990s, and became a vocal ambassador for the platform in the years that followed. Sun Microsystems began deploying the technology in 1995. When Oracle finalized its $7.4 billion Sun acquisition in 2010, Gosling stayed aboard the new company-until extenuating circumstances led him to jump overboard.

"There is actually a long list of things that played into my leaving Oracle," Gosling told eWEEK in an exclusive interview in September 2010. "There were things like my salary offer. After getting my offer from them, I tried to figure out what my compensation would be like on my W-2 form, and it was a major hit. They copied my base salary [from Sun]." That apparently excluded any bonuses accrued during a typical year at Sun.

In addition to what he perceived as a pay cut, Gosling also felt that Oracle minimized his ability to make decisions. He said, "Oracle is an extremely micromanaged company. So myself and my peers in the Java area were not allowed to decide anything. All of our authority to decide anything evaporated."

Oracle also apparently wanted Gosling to present himself as "a public presence for Java for Oracle," which made him uncomfortable.

Soon after acquiring Sun, Oracle moved aggressively to use its assets in a number of ways. In August 2010, the company fired off a lawsuit against Google for patent and copyright infringement over the use of Java in the Google Android platform. "During our integration meetings between Sun and Oracle," Gosling wrote in an Aug. 12, 2010, posting on his blog, "where we were being grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google, we could see the Oracle lawyer's eyes sparkle."

On a more benign front, Sun's assets give Oracle the opportunity to expand on its end-to-end offerings. "Engineering the Oracle database and the Solaris operating system enables us, for the first time, to deliver integrated computer systems, database to disk, optimized for high performance," Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said during an April 2009 conference call, soon after the initial Sun takeover was announced.

Over subsequent quarters, however, Sun's legacy business has dragged on Oracle's bottom line, and perhaps contributed to the latter's decision to cease supporting servers based on Intel's Itanium platform. Oracle is battling everyone from IBM and Hewlett-Packard to and Microsoft in various parts of the enterprise IT space.

Meanwhile, Gosling has moved his curmudgeonly self to newer pastures.