Thursday, February 23, 2006

"DevCo" - 16 days after spin off announcement.

In case you've been on vacation on some tropical island or hiking in the arctic tundra without mobile phone or internet service, by now you have seen the latest information and news from Borland.  Some more information is here as well.

Rather than simply rehashing all the same old information, I'd like to provide some level of back-channel information.  Of course there's nothing in here that would be considered sensitive information.  All I hope to do is to let our customers and community know that the spin-out plans are proceeding at a very fast pace.  In other words, I'll try and provide a “fly on the wall“ view of what is happening, but I also will control what that “fly“ actually sees and hears.

For the sake of being clear, I will refer to the new developer tools entity as “DevCo,” whether or not we're spun-out as a private concern or part of a strategic investment from an existing company.  I have the priviledge to be involved with a lot of the high-level discussions that cover things like DevCo's corporate structure which include things like the R&D, QA, and Pubs organizations.  I've also been included in discussions about product management, sales, marketing, support and even HR, corporate counsel (the lawyers) and the finance folks.  It is exciting to be involved in what is best described as the genesis of a new company or entity... all from within the existing corporate shell.  These are all initial discussions and will begin to include more of the development organizations and others.  Since we're intending for DevCo to be a developer focused entity, we are now making plans with that in mind.

For example, we need to make sure we have an organization that is well suited to continue to deliver all the products that will be part of this new entity.  There is a lot of infrastructure needed to make sure we're successful.  The good thing is that we aren't quite getting down to the level of who's going to clean the restrooms :-).  We also have to make sure we have all the appropriate information and documents created and made available to potential suitors so they can begin their “due-diligence” process as well.  This is why Bear-Stearns was hired to help us out.  They have the expertise and tools in place to make sure everyone is on the same page and that both parties in a transaction of this caliber are pleased with the results.  For instance, one really interesting thing they've setup is a secure web-site that will be the virtual “data room” where all the documents and information are placed so that any prospective buyer can gain access to in order to do their own “due-diligence.”  This site very secure and all the documents are viewed through a special viewer application that makes sure the viewers cannot print or copy the documents.  Apparently in the past the way this was done was there was actually a physical room set aside containing rows and rows of filing cabinets.  A team of lawyers and/or finance wonks would show up at your door and you'd grant them access to this room.  Then you'd have a security guard standing by to ensure that no documents were allowed to leave the room.  Fascinating.

Earlier this week, DevCo's acting exec leadership team had the opportunity to share a dinner with Tod Nielsen and others.  While a lot of the discussion surrounded DevCo and its future plans, we also had time to just get acquainted and share old “war stories” from Borland and Microsoft.  It was great to compare perspectives.  We even discussed the latest in mobile phones as Michael Swindell and I showed Tod our latest cool new phones.  Both used Windows Mobile 5, of course :-)

I will tell you that these meetings are of the marathon variety.   They're tedious.  They're sometimes boring.  However, they are very, very nessesary.  I intend to remain highly involved since my team and I now have significant “skin in the game.”  I want to make sure that we remain on target with respect to the originally stated goals.  The good thing is that my colleagues and I are very much goal aligned and creating a developer focused company is our top goal.  While, Mr. Ballmer can only temporarily put on his “Developers! Developers! Developers!” hat... we plan on having it firmly and permamently sewn on!

From now until we close this deal, the DevCo exec team will conduct regular “stand up” meetings so that we can make sure we have the information we need and that we're providing the information needed for potential buyers.  We're also working on putting together the actual presentation that will be made physically in front a team of folks from the prospective buyers.  This is where we get to express our ideas and passion for the business along with future growth strategies and plans.

Some folks have really wondered why Borland management decided to go public with these plans before having a buyer nailed down.  Personally, the reasons why at this point are irrelevant because I now see an opportunity for me to share bits and pieces of this process with the customers and the community.  It can also serve as a springboard for DevCo toward a more open and honest dialog with the customers and community.  Once the deal closes, we can remove the Cluetraining wheels.


  1. "Once the deal closes, we can remove the Cluetraining wheels."

    Nicely put. <g>

  2. Hi Allen,

    thanks for letting us in, step by step. Just don't start running or you may trip and fall. Nobody would want that. I'll be with DevCo, that's sure :-)

    Boy, how much would I like to be that fly on your shoulder, but with all those filtered information :-D

    Kind regards,


    P.S.: My new mobile phone with Windows Mobile 5 shold arrive Tuesday or Wednesday - ready to rock!

  3. I'm nothing else that a simple Delphi developer.

    It's really nice that a company share this informations.

    I think this is the Power of Delphi team.


  4. It's good to hear that the necessary information is being made available for potential suitors. If they were stuck with the level of uncertainty that we are encountering out here in the trenches, nobody would buy DevCo.

    In any event, it will be interesting to see what you guys come up with in the next releases, whenever that will be. I suspect that all this spin-off stuff is a mighty distraction, so I understand if it is a while before we see the next releases.

    Thanks for keeping lines of communication open. I think I speak for many of us when I say it is very deeply appreciated.

  5. I Belive Borland Is The Latest Technology In IDE And Compiler!!!

    Be Funn

  6. I've been thinking. Since this in essence means that the Borland Core is returning back to it's roots, perhaps going back to the root names of products would be in order.

    New Company name: Turbo Software

    BDS : Turbo Development Suite


  7. I find it amusing that just last fall, the board rebuffed Robert Coates' attempt to purchase the same property which is now on the block. To go from saying "Delphi and Deploy are integral to Borland's business and growth strategy, and are not for sale," to sell by Q2 this year is an about face of monumental proportions.

    The board must all be suffering from moral compass whiplash, the pain of which is likely ONLY exceeded by the burn Robert Coates must be feeling from his earlier rebuff.

    Frankly, the size of the property being sold and the speed at which they want to sell has all the feeling of a snake oil seller. Too much, too fast! You can almost hear "don't mind the man behind the curtain" crying out across the board table as you wonder what the sudden hurry is all about.

    It ought to be interesting to see if this turns into a revolution for the future or just another highspeed trainwreck (frankly, without the right company <cough>ms<cough> purchasing, I'm betting on the train wreck, if only for the haste involved)

  8. Who is this Mr. Ballmer you are referring to? Steve Ballmer?

  9. Allan,

    Thanks for the update. This sort of feedback is vital to secure buy-in from your existing customers.

    It must be great to finally feel as if you are able to control your own destiny - or at least that you will be given the chance to. I hope you get the backing you deserve.

    Enjoy the ride!

  10. C Johnson writes:

    "I find it amusing that just last fall, the board rebuffed Robert Coates' attempt to purchase the same property which is now on the block."

    This is factually incorrect. The tools being spun off now are not the same as those which Coates attempted to purchase.

  11. Thomas,

    Yes, Steve Ballmer.

  12. Craig Stuntz -

    Delphi is about the only thing of value on the block, and it was the primary property that Robert Coates tried to buy. If you think there is a difference, you are seriously kidding yourself.

    Jbuilder is dying product, C# and VB.NET are actually MS's compiler (and there are free C# ides out there), and if C++ Builder had a market, it wouldn't have died in the first place. Interbase is now just a fading shadow of its open source cousin, Firebird (if you haven't checked it out, you should). Everything else is just window dressing to go along with it.

    It is like when you try to sell something good at a garage sale for a high price and toss in a pile of dross just to make the buyer feel good about it.

  13. C Johnson,

    You say that with such conviction and certainty. However, many times truth is much stranger than fiction.

  14. CJ --

    Are you even familiar with the deal that Coates offered and the current deal? I think you aren't because they aren't the same at all. For one thing, Coates tried to buy Visibroker, and that's not going to be part of DevCo.

    Do the facts sway your view at all?


  15. The fact there is a DevCo acting exec leadership team, makes it sound as if the company has already been picked.

  16. Nick -

    Since I never hear about Visibroker, from ANYONE, I have to say it makes very little difference to me. Since the board isn't quote talkined about how visibroker is essential to the future of borland, just Delphi, again I have to say that it makes little difference.

    The board was not quoted as rebuffing the attempt to buy visibroker, just Delphi and perhaps that is the core of my point here.

    To go from claiming that Delphi was a core part of borland's future to slapping it on the block in under 6 months is a big enough about turn to give you whiplash, don't you think?

    Honestly, if the IDE business and the ALM business are both hugely successful businesses with huge profit potential, it would make more sense to create an internal division and give each its own tailored sales force. Ultimately, that is what is going to happen anyways, and the board expects whoever is going to buy Delphi to think that they can make good money at it.

    That being the case, it would make perfect sense to create an intenal division with 2 different sales forces much like MS has an office division and developer tools division and an OS division. The fact that borland is selling Delphi off like a hot potatoe after swearing it was vital to its future should NOT be lost on anyone, most especially the staff that are being sold with the deal.

    Potential buyers are thinking it, I can assure you. I'm also betting they are wondering what all the rush is all about as they decide whether to invest huge volumes of cash on short notice.

    Again, could you imagine the results if the Corel merger was announced and performed inside of 6 months? <shudder>

  17. Exactly Since Delphi6, borland did from perspective of developer the strangest things on earth.

    Delphi7 was Delphi6 with a shiny skin ( nothing really new inside). Delphi8 "amazed" me with the .net command line compiler, in times where you can do it in Vs. net.

    Delphi 2005 and C# Builder to jump fast forward are the crappiest ide i ever saw.

    On QC there are unresolved bugs since 2002.

    And so on.

    Borland dumped Delphi a long time ago, but tried to sell it till everyone gets a headache when hears about it.

    I worked with Delphi since 1998, and when I saw Delphi8 I switched to Ms products as fast as Borland sells its Delphi now.

    I was right ;-)

  18. The part of this that is really chilling is the disappearance of options. Our team feels that .NET is an absolute disaster for about 100 real and honest reasons. As VB6 closes out, many of us are looking for other options. Borland Delphi was one of those options. This spin-off does not make us comfortable. Further it removes Delphi as a choice "until we see what happens". Pretty scary stuff.

    Fritz Klein

    Director Med-Ed-IT

    UNC Medical School

    Chapel Hill NC


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