RealTime IT News

Sun's Co-Founder Back in the Fold

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sun Microsystems has signed papers to acquire Kealia, a privately-held company based in Palo Alto, Calif. founded by Sun's co-founder, Andy Bechtolsheim.

If the name sounds familiar, it's because before Bechtolsheim was president and CEO of Kealia, he was employee No. 1 at Sun, which he launched along with Bill Joy, Vinod Khosla and Sun's current chairman, president and CEO, Scott McNealy.

"It is great to have Andy back home," McNealy said during the company's quarterly product announcement here Tuesday. "We started the company together while we were at Stanford University over 20 years ago and both of us could not be more excited about working together again. The return of employee number one is 'back to the future' for us and marks the start of a new wave of innovation at the company."

Bechtolsheim has been more than prolific for Sun in the past, focusing mostly on workstations and spearheading Sun's 'Ferraris' initiative out of off-the-shelf parts.

Now the 48-year-old will take the reins as senior vice president and Chief Architect within the Volume Systems Products group, reporting to executive vice president Neil Knox, and will also be a member of Sun's Executive Management Group, led by McNealy. He said his focus will be on Sun's next generation of volume servers, desktops and storage products.

Bechtolsheim is expected to bring new ideas to Sun's lineup. He has applied for several patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hoping to secure the copyright to words like "Streamhub," "Streamswitch," "Streamstar," "Streamstor," "Streamcast," and "Netblade."

"I am very excited about being back at Sun," Bechtolsheim said standing next McNeally. "We will see some of the biggest innovations in servers over the next few years and I look forward to working with Sun to deliver this vision to the market."

Kealia's future is somewhat less certain. According to the terms of the agreement, Sun will acquire Kealia in a stock-for-stock merger. The transaction is expected to resolve in the next six months Following completion of the acquisition, Kealia will become the Advanced Systems Technology group within Sun's Volume Systems Products organization headed by Knox. Bechtolsheim did not say how many of his 50 or so employees would be joining him at Sun.

The move also bodes well for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker's relationship with AMD and its Opteron server processor. McNealy said the relationship will advance well beyond the entry-level offerings such as its new Sun Fire V20z, which Sun announced today.

Already, Bechtolsheim and McNealy are looking to Sun's next round of AMD products, leaving the door wide open for some crossover opportunities between Opteron and SPARC.

"We are working with AMD on their I/O and their architectures," McNealy said. "There is no reason we can't make it as seamless as possible with Opteron strategies and SPARC. Our people are already looking for ways to stand on these two great platforms."