Jonathan Schwartz, COO of Sun Microsystems, just beat Bill Gates (and no, this is not it ;-)) to the blog party (via DivaBlog). (And how's this for immediacy: eWeek on 6/29 reports Jonathan is "pondering" a blog when his first post goes up the evening of 6/28.)
And Collaxa, a middleware software company, has recently been acquired by Oracle (confirmed 6/29). But that's not the story here. Collaxa had to evangelize and educate an entire new I.T. market called business process management to usher in their enterprise software sales.
And part of that evangelizing effort was accomplished through Collaxa's blog.
What's interesting is folks are already primed to read what executives at Microsoft and Sun Microsystems among other well-known brands are thinking...so as soon as their blogs launch they're hot news. It's much more difficult to evangelize a new idea, a new market, a new company, a new concept, a new conference, a new book, a new product, a new service if you're not already a meme, a brand.
Sun Microsystems already gets plenty of press, analyst, industry and market attention. So their motives for blogging are a little different than evangelizing and range from being:
Partly for transparency...
"Part of what I want is to dissolve boundaries," Schwartz said. "The boundaries that are around me are huge and I'm a little tired of it."
"Regulation FD says one of two things: Either I am explicitly prohibited from running a blog, or every conversation I'm in must be put on my blog," Schwartz said. "Or perhaps I can interpret it as I see fit," he added. - eWeek
Partly to get his own two cents in...
...to change the format and fidelity with which what I say is transcribed. No more comments from the pundits "in context." Now you get them straight from me.
And if you know me, you know I speak my mind. - Schwartz' blog
Partly to listen and get feedback...
I'm a big believer in the idea that innovation is self-sustaining when it loses its predictability....
... to get unfiltered feedback from the community. If you want to reach me, I'm "jonathan.i.schwartz at sun.com". I promise to read it all, but please don't count on responses (I'm a bit deluged already). - Schwartz' blog
If you don't have the influence of Sun or Microsoft, folks seem to care a bit less about reading your two cents (so what?) or engaging in conversation (did you say something?) or even transparency (like who cares?).
So that's why the Collaxa blog is a bit more intriguing to me in many respects...how does a David get their voice heard on new ideas and new solutions in the land of Goliaths?
When Collaxa started their blog (fairly uncharted waters for companies then; first post was dated Feb 10, 2002), they stated:
The goal of this blog is to be a central repository for clippings of interesting destinations, documents and articles found around the web. It is also an experiment to determine how useful and usable blogs really are!
A year ago April, an admirer wrote:
A slew of interesting posts from Doron Sherman and Edwin Khodabakchian on their company’s blog prompt me to serve up a shout-out… They routinely offer up good, consise insight on web services standards and product developments that help me understand their perspective on this market. It also shows how a focused (and honest) blog can be an excellent marketing tool for a software company.
Edwin K. (as he often signs himself off on the company blog), founder and CTO, was uncharacteristically quiet since the Infoworld article broke June 14...even well after it was hardly considered news in the popular press, as noted by The Register on June 22.
Oracle has since made a move on middleware startup Collaxa, started by former Netscape/iPlanet chief architect Ed Khodabakchian; although that story can't possible be true - if it was, it would be on Collaxa's blog.
The Register being tongue-in-cheek as it typically is was probably underscoring the fact of how truly difficult it is to be fully "transparent" about company dealings in a corporate blog.
It's not until Tuesday, June 29 that the news is mentioned on the blog (although it wasn't news at JavaOne conference). Edwin posts answers to 'why' questions around the acquisition and closes with a round of touching thank you's to all that helped the company in the last "official" post - at least from collaxa.com.
One can't help noting that Edwin has moved the location of his musings onto his own Typepad hosted service and away from the Collaxa domain...now owned by Oracle. His first post is titled "Chapter 2".
I suspect that the "experiment" has paid off and now Edwin can't part with the blog. I know I'd have a wee bit of concern about the continuation of the blog now that Oracle owns Collaxa, its domain and by extension the blog itself. When big company buys little start-up these cute and quaint experiments are some of the kind of things that get swept away in cleaning house. It will be interesting to watch if Oracle uses this opportunity instead extend their reach and join Sun and Microsoft to the blog party (that is, beyond developer community blogs).
Other related links about Schwartz' blog and corporate blogging:
- eWeek on Sun's Schwartz Ponders Blogging
- Sun's internal blogger list
- Ross Mayfield on corporate blogs
- Sun's Danese Cooper (DivaBlog) asks: What's missing from Sun blogs (or, is Executive Blogging enough)?
Update: Edwin K. from Collaxa sends me an email on his impressions of the Collaxa blog experiment:
It has been an interesting/fun experience and a useful tool for evangelizing our ideas, trying to influence the influencers and showcasing the features of our solution.
And as for the reason he switched to Typepad? Simply I.T. issues. Their entire Collaxa site is switched over to the Oracle BPEL Manager site. He says: "The current tool I am using for editing the blog does not work well with the firewalls, proxies and single-sign on infrastructures in place at Oracle." So essentially the Typepad switch is a workaround. I think as more organizations look to blog but can't get I.T. to help out in a timely manner they too will look at hosted solutions. And it's still pretty quiet in the Oracle blog camp.
Simon Phipps, Chief Technology Evangelist at Sun Microsystems, writes in comments: Actually, the list of Sun bloggers is best seen at http://www.planetsun.org/ - the list on http://blog.sun.com/ doesn't (currently) include bloggers who host elsewhere such as Tim Bray, Norm Walsh and myself.