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09.05.11

Shrinking of Novell

Posted in Novell at 10:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell logo bitten

Summary: A post-Attachmate acquisition Novell and the former CEO’s remark about employee arrogance

IT was just under a year ago that Novell seemed destined to be sold. The sale was assured a few months later and the acquisition closed about 4-5 months ago, whereupon many employees were let loose. Ron Hovsepian lost his job after he had failed to fulfil his role as CEO and only 4 years after shaking Steve Ballmer’s hand a company with over 4,000 employees became more or less liquidated, with its patents being passed to Microsoft and some of its staff being absorbed inside Attachmate.

Now that an unemployment epidemic strikes the West, reports give this personal account of a formal Novell employee:

The numbers didn’t fall fast enough for Robert Ahlstrom. He spent four years working for the software company Novell – one of Provo Utah’s most prominent businesses. Novell laid off more than 800 people in May, sending shockwaves through the city.

“My boss, he called me into the office and told me: ‘You’re one of the people that’s gonna be laid off,’” Robert says.

Robert says he’s lucky – he’s getting severance pay. Now he spends his days looking for work — and working on his baseball swing.

In last week’s news we also found former Novell staff and former advisors finding themselves in other companies. former Novell CEO Eric Schmidt is quoted as saying some interesting things:

On lessons learned from working at Sun and Novell: “What happens when you’re in a successful company is you develop a certain kind of arrogance.” There’s always someone who can undercut you with a cheaper machine that works just as well. At Google, they understand this, because most of their price lists start at “Free.”

Several years ago we wrote about that particular arrogance that harmed Novell. A columnist at IDG wrote a column about it.

It is valuable to learn about people who are leaving the company or got laid off as it often provides insight into the internal issues. Consider this other new report which says:

Burnham joins Ogletree after seven years in-house at Novell Inc., where she most recently served as vice president of global employment law.

Employment at Novell or Attachmate is perhaps not much of a priority now. As we recently pointed out, Novell products are currently being decommissioned if not improperly maintained. It is unlikely that Novell-affiliated people or products will ever grow. Right now all the ‘juice’ that’s left in Novell is merely being squeezed out, starting with those patents Novell gave to Microsoft through CPTN. What a waste and what a predictable mess. Novell oughtn’t have gone into Microsoft’s bed in the first place; it had a fine desktop distribution with major clients, but it blew it all away, so Canonical won. It ought to be added that all those Mono developers who got laid off are not really visible in that startup called Xamarin. It seems like a non-starter. Their business model is providing Microsoft-esque services or products to developers and users who are trying to distance themselves from Microsoft and its platform. Similarly, Novell was trying to offer a Microsoft-flavoured GNU/Linux to companies and individuals whose goal was to get rid of Microsoft.

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4 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    September 5, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Gravatar

    *now* will Canonical drop Mono from it’s main Ubuntu distro?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    And bring out (or back) the GIMP… with the recovered disk space.

  2. High Plains Thumper said,

    September 5, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Gravatar

    Fortunately, a change over from SuSE to another Linux distro by competent Linux admins would be less intrusive than say, change over to Windows and Microsoft servers, and less costly.

    Utah overall is very rural except for its few cities. 800 laid off with many more to follow is devastating to these sparsely populated US states.

    I was an early fan of SuSE. I moved to Debian and Ubuntu shortly after the Novell take over of SuSE. That was roughly 5 years ago. Now I don’t miss it.

    Thanks for the update on the news, Roy.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The layoffs affected not only Utah.

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