Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Standing Ovation

Sun Microsystems, Santa ClaraImage by yuichi.sakuraba via Flickr

I just read Scott McNealy's farewell letter to Sun employees and was struck by a couple of paragraphs I'd like to share:

"What we did right and wrong at Sun over the years might make for interesting reading. However, I am not a book writer. I am a husband, father of four, and a builder and leader of people who want to make a difference.

But spare me a bit of nostalgia. Not of the mistakes we made, and lord knows I made a ton. But of the things we did right and well.

First and foremost, Sun innovated like crazy. We took it to the limit (see Eagles). And though we did not monetize our inventions as well as we could have, few companies have the track record in R&D that we had over the last 28 years. This made working at Sun really cool. Thanks to all of you inventors and risk takers who changed how we live.

Sun cared about its customers. Even more than we cared about our own company at times. We looked at our customer's mission as more important than ours. Maybe we should have asked for more revenue in return, but our employees were always ready to help first. I love this about Sun, which I guess makes me a good capitalist, if not a great capitalist.

Sun did not cheat, lie, or break the rule of law or decency. While we enjoyed breaking the rules of conventional wisdom and archaic business practice, and for sure loved to win in the market, we did so with a solid reputation for integrity. Nearly three decades of competing without a notable incident of our folds going off course morally or legally. Not all executives and big companies are bad. Really. There are good companies out there. Special thanks to all of my employees for this. I never had to hide the newspaper in shame from my children."

While tempted to comment on all I find admirable in these paragraphs, I think it's better to let them stand on their own. I tip my hat to Mr. McNealy and all the employees at Sun.

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