Saturday, September 15, 2007

Where were you when? (SCO)

Everybody remembers where they were when they found out what was happening on September 11.  I will certainly never forget. 

But, my question to you is where were you when you found out that SCO was suing the world over IP claims in Linux? 

I was in a rather unique position.  SCO was a major partner for Unisys. Unixware ran on the ES7000 server line and I was responsible for the partnership from the Unisys side.  I was also quietly shepherding in Linux on the ES7000.  (Up until this time, Unisys was beholden to Microsoft and the ES7000 only ran Windows and a little Unixware.)  And, believe it or not, SCO had joined the United Linux Consortium (along with Connectiva, SUSE and TurboLinux) and Unisys had just begun quietly shipping SCO Linux on the ES7000. 

So, on a Friday morning I deliver a presentation to a major customer about United Linux and our 15 year partnership with SCO and Monday morning I am on the phone with John W., our rep at SCO (who was just as blown away as everyone else in the world) asking what the deal is.  BTW, I changed John's name to protect the innocent.

So, here is what John tells me: 

Well, we will honor any deals you have in flight and we will continue to support the handful of existing SCOI Linux clients you have.  But, we are discontinuing the sale of SCO Linux immediately and I can't guarantee that we won't sue those customers eventually.

Yeah, right.  So there I am in the middle of a sh*t storm and caught between sales reps and customers and not a clue how to proceed.  Incidentally, SCO's stock was somewhere between $.90 and $1.35 at the time and I remember thinking I should buy a few shares.  They subsequently went through the roof in the next 90 days hitting a high in the low $20.00 range.  But, alas, I never purchased. 

I did, however, spend the next 3 months talking prospects, customers and internal management off the roof.  Everyone seemed to think the sky was falling.  And, since then it has been a wild ride...

What really got me was that SCO was offering Linux (SCO Linux 4.0 powered by United Linux v1.0) and now suddenly it was"their" code and they were going to pursue everyone who worked on Linux or used it to run their business (including those they had sold SCO Linux to?).  Ridiculous. 

Thanks for the memories Darl.  At first we were scared, then we were annoyed and then we just laughed. 

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