01.31.10

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Novell Loses Executive Vice President and Community Manager

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Ron Hovsepian at 11:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Novell’s CTO Jeff Jaffe and Zonker (the symbol of OpenSUSE) say their last words before leaving Novell, replacements are imminent

A Web site called “Boycott Novell” may be biased, but Novell does seem like it's crumbling these days. It is being said by a lot of people outside this Web site. The departure of managers ought to be self explanatory. This post covers just a couple of the latest (there are more), namely those whose last day or week at Novell is right about now.

Jeff Jaffe, Meet Externality

Just a year after he had joined Novell (November 2005), Jaffe played a role in hooking the company up with Microsoft. He gave a talk at the press event announcing the deal, where he explained its technical nature. We wrote about this before [1, 2] and also touched on his professional history (similar to Ron Hovsepian’s because of IBM). In addition, we wrote about his departure before, so it is not exactly news. Novell hid it under the banner of “reorg”, so Ben Kevan, for instance, knew nothing about it until Jeff Jaffe wrote a “goodbye” blog post.

A few days after the news from Zonker, we get the news that Jeff Jaffe, Novells CTO, is also leaving the company for new ventures in life after 4 years.

What does this mean to the company? What really is going on at Novell?

Actually, the news about Jeff Jaffe goes almost a couple of months back. It is surprising how quiet Novell has managed to keep it (same with the departure of Levy).

As we noted here many times before, former Microsoft managers become Novell managers [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], so it will be interesting to see the professional history of Novell’s new CTO. Here is what Jaffe wrote in his last post:

Nostalgia. I’m writing as I complete my four years at Novell. A great deal achieved—but—as with any company still more to do. Here are my thoughts as I move to my next opportunity.

[...]

The Microsoft partnership has been the most fascinating. An arch-competitor. Building bridges between proprietary and open source. Enormous financial benefit for Novell. Viewed as controversial by some. Two companies kept their focus on the ultimate end goal—meeting customers’ needs—and struck an agreement for everyone’s benefit. My participation in the cultivation and creation of this relationship is my most lasting contribution to our shareholders and personal growth.

He says that Microsoft and Novell “struck an agreement for everyone’s benefit.” Wow, isn’t that a sweeping statement? He must never have heard of the notion of externality, has he? Especially one that punishes his very own suppliers. The deal with Microsoft was an utter failure, as his departure too serves to indicate.

OpenSUSE Leadership

Zonker is leaving Novell and his departure was covered by The H, which is not “big” press, but still, it’s something. “Novell loses Linux community manager” was the headline.

Friday was Zonker’s last day and he wrote about it in his blog:

This week has flown by. Tomorrow will be my last “on duty” day with Novell. I’ve spent much of this week handing off tasks or information to co-workers and saying goodbyes.

Well, “goodbyes” is overselling it a bit — I hope. Since I telecommute, I’ll be just as close to everyone I’ve worked with on Monday as I have been the past two years, and hope to remain in touch with all of the friends I’ve made at Novell and in the openSUSE community long after I stop having an @novell.com address.

Now that Novell is looking for a Zonker replacement, Luc Verhaegen (whom Novell laid off) recommends Martin Lasarsch as community manager. Lasarsch has been around SUSE for ages.

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