Friday Jul 04, 2008

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of my former employer


cross-posting to http://patrickfinch.net

After 11 years at Sun, I hope you can forgive a little sentimentality as I write my last as a Sun employee. I've had a wonderful time here. In the week I joined Sun (SunExpress actually, which although it sounds like a budget travel agency, was in fact an inside sales division), the sales manager who hired me left. Unlike her, I am not making a leaving speech, but were I to, I would say the same thing: it's all about the people.

I've had the opportunity to work with amazing, and more importantly, really good people. Although we may no longer be co-workers, we will still be friends. And happily, we will still be colleagues: I am remaining in the world of free and open source software to work at Mozilla, marketing Firefox in Europe. That such an opportunity was available to me was certainly in part thanks to Sun's credibility in open source. This is the result of the efforts of hundreds, even thousands, of people at Sun, but of course much of the credit has to go to my boss, Sun's chief open source officer, Simon Phipps. Simon is a marvelous man, from whom I have learned a great deal, (but I suspect only a fraction of what he could teach me). I literally do not know how he does what he does, and I will miss him.

As for the new waters Sun is charting in open source, I am proud to have had a small part to play in it. And I believe that Sun's customers and shareholders will have reason to be pleased, even if the ride seems bumpy at times. I like to think that we've moved on from regarding Microsoft as 'evil'. They are no more evil than they are brilliant. It just happens that they've been the chief beneficiaries of the IT sector's natural susceptibility to monopolisation. But by the simple expedient of respecting the freedom of software's users, we have the potential to avoid both the monopolisation or the fragmentation of the network; to keep the network as an instrument of human empowerment and not one of control, and to accelerate the growth of shared wealth in the form of accumulated learning. I feel very lucky to be able to identify this outcome in my work, in both my old job and my new one.

In my interview to join Sun, the soon-to-leave manager innocently asked why it was that Sun had no customers (or at least, relatively few), in my hometown of Liverpool, which was at the time enduring a bout of post-industrial malaise. I didn't have a very good answer for her, but it's nice to reflect that these days, Liverpool is European Capital of Culture (whatever that means, exactly), in Eskilstuna, Sweden, where I now live, there seems to be a higher level of awareness of Liverpool FC than practically any other institution, and even the head of Sun's sales organisation is a scouser.

Finally, I turn to some advice that I got in my early days on the job, on getting my first account to manage. John, a senior colleague, took me to one side and said to me, "Patrick, this is important. Whatever you do, don't f\*\*\* it up." So, if you'd care to join me, I will transplant my blog to http://patrickfinch.net, where I will endeavour to keep following this sage counsel.


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