Unix pioneer Larry Michels, president, chairman, chief executive and co-founder of the Santa Cruz Operation Inc, has, as reported briefly, resigned in the wake of a civil suit filed by three former executive secretaries charging him with sexual harassment (CI No 2,077). Jim Harris, a member of the Santa Cruz board since 1988, who had […]
Unix pioneer Larry Michels, president, chairman, chief executive and co-founder of the Santa Cruz Operation Inc, has, as reported briefly, resigned in the wake of a civil suit filed by three former executive secretaries charging him with sexual harassment (CI No 2,077). Jim Harris, a member of the Santa Cruz board since 1988, who had been charged with heading the damage limitation committee at the Santa Cruz, California company, has been named president and chief executive in his place. Michels, who is now no longer even on the Santa Cruz board, is said to have retained his own lawyer to fight the suit, determined to keep Santa Cruz’s involvement to a minimum. On advice of counsel, the company officially declined to comment on the allegations. Michels, in a statement of his own made last month, maintained his innocence and termed the allegations false and unfair as well as the source of much pain and anguish. The internal announcement of the resignation, circulated on December 21, also spoke of his leave of absence from the company but Harris’s appointment is believed to be permanent. Harris, 49, retired from Microsoft Corp in 1987. He had been vice-president and general manager of OEM division there for five years. Previously he had been with Intel Corp and Burroughs Corp. He has been living in Minnesota and will eventually have to relocate; he is to chair Santa Cruz’s executive committee, which includes vice-presidents Doug Michels, Sam Spadafora, Dan Steimle and Lars Turndal. This change in the Santa Cruz hierarchy comes at a highly interesting time. The company has been preparing to go public, a process the suit could have adversely affected, while at the same time it was believed to be object of some takeover desires by Unix System Laboratories Inc. Now that Novell Inc has finally made its move with respect to Unix Labs, Santa Cruz could look doubly attractive. Even Santa Cruz insiders are speculating on the possibility Novell could pick up where Unix Labs left off or that Microsoft Corp, which already owns a minority stake in Santa Cruz, could come back for more. A company such as IBM Corp, currently down on its luck, might nibble at the bait or Sun Microsystems Inc, feeling perhaps increasingly isolated, might seek new alignments. Observers expect the Santa Cruz Operation to announce a profit for its first quarter shortly: the market is expected to want the company to prove it can be profitable for one further quarter through to March – without Larry Michels – before announcing an initial public offering next April, with the flotation in June.