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.