That which does not kill us makes us stronger?

Been a while since I was here, lots of things to talk about, lot has happened, the biggest of course being the impending Oracle acquisition. While the EC mulls over MySQL, morale within the company continues its precipitous drop. I have no issues with anyone doubting Oracle's intentions with a product that supposedly competes with their core IP, the problem is with the elapsed time. With holidays abutting both sides of the decision making process, employees, customers and partners continue their wait. Customers and partners have the ability to move on, to make decisions that might not involve Sun, but employees don't really have that option. The market is tight, some of us are die-hard Sun fans, some of us do want to work for the combined company. The longer the wait though, the worse it gets for those of us who want to stay.

So I have been doing what I do best - meeting with customers and partners across the globe. As the market starts its rebound - which is a topic in itself - business is picking up. My travels this month and last have taken me to Canada, Toronto specifically, and Singapore. The set of customers and ISVs are different, the market dynamics are different, however there is one common theme between both places - the dominant domestics locals and the ISVs both, are seeing a massive resurgence in business. I met with Scotia, CIBC, Oanda and Algorithmics in Toronto, and with Standard Chartered Bank, CSC, Fundtech, BCSIS and Distra in Singapore. They are all growing, and are looking to make large investments. They are all way beyond asking about the Oracle acquisition and what Oracle will do with our products. I would have expected ISVs like Algo, CSC and Distra to start to push us back, and I was ready with my corporate lines, however was pleasantly surprised that I did not have to use them. They all continue to view Sun as a vibrant platform to sell their stuff on, and continue to look at the SMI sales force as a extension of their sales teams. They all see Dell as irrelevant, HP as missing in FSI, and IBM too complex to do business with.

APAC continues to astound me with its growth. The financial crisis seems to have just glanced by. One lagging indicator of how well an economy is doing is the job market - all the large global banks - Merrill, SCB, Barclays, UBS - have 100s of jobs open in Singapore. We all have known for a while that APAC would be the next market, the difference now is that all the large globals are establishing large physical presence in APAC. They are now installing large datacenters, and are placing executives in APAC. ISVs and our other partners are growing their presence, in particular hiring local talent, replacing the expat personnel that had previously established satellite offices in APAC.

We all the know about the growth rates of China and India, there is a new statistic that came out earlier this week - the World Wealth Report released its annual report which states that the number of millionaires in China now exceeds the number in the UK. The only countries with more millionaires than China today are US, Japan and Germany. The number of high net worth individuals (those with USD1M or more in investable assets) are expected to grow at a rate of 12.3% a year in Singapore, versus 7% in the US. This shift of wealth from "west to east" is likely to continue, with APAC predicted to overtake North America as the largest center of wealth by 2013.

The current problem for the global and regional banks? They don't have enough individuals to satisfy the demand for private banking services. The "back to basics" approach with a renewed focus on long-term client relationships, due diligence, comprehensive assessment and management of risk, a need for transparency and liquidity over "black box" complexities in product offerings is making wealth management a key investment area for all banks.

Final note before I sign off - Goldman Sachs doing "Gods work"... wonder how much capital GS actually generates for the market it purports to support? ummmmm NONE.. it is a glorified hedge fund that generates most of its profits from proprietary trading... "Gods work" indeed.. makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over...

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