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.”

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