Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Insufficiently Paranoid

You know those people who see the shadowy hand of Microsoft behind every attack on Linux? The people whose rampant paranoia gives those of us with legitimate concerns a bad name? Well, sometimes they're right.

6. Sometime in 2003, I was approached by Richard Emerson (Microsoft's senior vice president for corporate development and stratedy) about investing in SCO, a company about which I knew little or nothing at the time. Mr. Emerson stated that Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit about IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux. For that reason, Microsoft wanted to further its interest through independent investors like BayStar.

7. I did some research on SCO, and had conversations with Mr. Emerson about it as well. In the course of my research about SCO, I became concerned that SCO might be merely a litigation company. As a result, Mr. Emerson and I discussed a variety of investment structures wherein Microsoft would "backstop," or guarantee in some way, BayStar's investment. In addition, I had discussions with Kenneth Lustig, Microsoft's managing director of intellectual property and Tivanka Ellawala, from Microsoft's corporate development department regarding the SCO deal. As part of these discussions, Microsoft assured me that it would in some way guarantee BayStar's investment in SCO. However, Microsoft would not agree to put anything in writing on this point.


I'm pretty paranoid myself, so it's disturbing to learn that I'm actually not paranoid enough.



2 comments:

  1. This is pretty standard practice all round.
    In fact on the opposite side, my Father works for a company that liases with country-level and European governments to help with and promote open standards (concentrating on the standards angle far more than open source).
    I know he's had fundings from a number of the big blue-chip software companies (with one notable exception) to help support ministers, laws and court cases, and most of these times the companies are simply using him as a proxy to prevent them being named as openly opposing Microsoft.

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  2. Robert O'Callahan11 October 2006 19:35

    That's not at all the same thing. Have those companies denied their involvement? Besides, promoting standards is a lot more benign than pursuing a baseless but drawn-out lawsuit. Even Microsoft claims to support open standards.
    If this is "standard practice", give me three examples of such secretly sponsored litigation in our industry.

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