News that Sun co-founder and long-serving CEO, Scott McNealy is stepping aside, heaps a load of pressure on incoming CEO Jonathan Schwartz – he will have to get working on his anti-Microsoft gags quick-sharp.
Aside from Sun’s strategy and his execution of it, McNealy’s tenure as CEO will be remembered for his constant Microsoft sniping. Anyone who saw him speak knows he always had a quiver of anti-Microsoft jokes up his sleeve. “I don’t want my kids growing up in a world of control-alt-delete,” was one of my favourites, or, “The bear is pretty strong in the computer business … but we are outrunning the other hikers.”
As we reported in our full coverage of McNealy’s decision to hand over to Schwartz here, McNealy said that, “When you start a company, you always wonder who you are going to hand it off to. You can’t run it forever.”
“I wasn’t going to hand it off when we were growing too fast,” he continued, “I wasn’t going to hand if off after the bubble burst. The time is right to do it now. All the demand indicators are strong. For 22 years, I have been running this joint, and I have had a lot of fun with it.” He certainly has.
McNealy has been a constant source of amusement in what might otherwise have been a far less interesting sector. He, and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, have taken it upon themselves to poke constant fun at Microsoft, and in so doing have helped in their own ways to ensure that consumers have retained that little bit of cynicism about the world’s most powerful software company.
In his capacity as CEO McNealy was bright, witty, straight talking, and often with us hacks, more than a little belligerent. Perhaps that’s unsurprising – McNealy once said in an interview with CBR that if he had not ended up running an IT company, he would have chosen instead to pass his time thwacking pucks and heads on an ice rink instead. I hear ice hockey is something of a contact sport. At times McNealy got pretty close to turning being a tech firm CEO into a contact sport, too.
I remember one press roundtable in London a couple of years ago, where a journalist from the Financial Times found himself on the wrong end of McNealy’s ire. When the journalist asked a question about comments that Sun’s channel had made to him about the soundness of Sun’s business model, McNealy retorted sharply: “I’m not going to comment on made-up quotes.”
Though the journalist insisted the quotes came straight from Sun’s own resellers, McNealy snapped, “Like I say, I will not comment on made-up quotes.” As us press began to leave the room McNealy again accosted the FT journalist, saying he was furious with his paper’s editor for stories that had apparently said that McNealy’s remuneration had been the cause of a board-room argument. “We haven’t even discussed that – it’s just been made up,” McNealy said furiously.
Anyway like I say if you want the low-down on McNealy’s departure and his replacement, Jonathan Schwartz, simply visit our coverage of the news here. I chose instead to assemble a few of the best Scott McNealy quotes from over the years. I warn you though – he could never have given up his day job to become a comedian. Ice hockey, perhaps.
A selection of the best Scott McNealy quotes:
“When Steve Ballmer calls me wacko, I consider that a compliment.”
“The only thing that I’d rather own than Windows is English, because then I could charge you two hundred and forty-nine dollars for the right to speak it.”
“Shut down some of the bullshit the government is spending money on and use it to buy all the Microsoft stock. Then put all their intellectual property in the public domain. Free Windows for everyone! Then we could just bronze Gates, turn him into a statue and stick him in front of the Commerce Department.”
“Microsoft is now talking about the digital nervous system… I guess I would be nervous if my system was built on their technology too.”
“It’s the good guys versus the bad guys, and the good guys are winning.”
“W2K (Windows 2000) will be a bigger disaster than Y2K.”
“A giant hairball.” [About Windows NT]
“The Evil Empire.” [guess who]
“The beast from Redmond.” [yup]
“Anyone heard any good monopolist jokes lately?”
“Ballmer and Butthead” [Ballmer and you-know-who]
“.Not, .Not Yet and .Nut” [Microsoft’s .Net strategy]
Some of these are thanks to quotefinder thinkexist.com. Others aren’t.