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Fresh from triumph over MS, Caldera files for IPO

The timing can only be a happy coincidence, however

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Caldera will use the Microsoft settlement money primarily for acquisitions, development and marketing, according to Lyle Ball, VP of marketing and communications at Lineo, the Caldera Inc operating company concerned with embedded clients based on Linux (Embedix) and DR-DOS. There has been a strategic move to keep the Microsoft litigation in Caldera Inc and away from product areas, so that operational matters were not affected. Ball drew particular attention to Microsoft having settled "right before a jury trial". Meanwhile Caldera Systems will continue with its Open Linux distribution, which should receive considerable publicity shortly because Caldera filed its S1 IPO registration statement with the SEC yesterday. Caldera CEO Bryan Sparks told The Register that Microsoft did not know of the intended filing of Caldera's IPO yesterday, since had it done so it would not have accommodated the coincidental serendipity. Although the company is less widely-known than Red Hat, Caldera shares will almost certainly enjoy a considerable premium when they are traded. The lawsuit made it difficult for Caldera to have an IPO much earlier. Ironically, when Microsoft wanted to prove during the Washington trial that it had tough operating system competitors, it put on a demo of Caldera's OpenLinux. What poetic justice it would be if this became true, and that Linux became the most widely installed operating system on new PCs, as Microsoft "feared". Although we can be certain that there is no connection between the settlement with Microsoft and the IPO because of the lead time in preparing for the latter, it is interesting to speculate as to what prompted it at this time. Since Caldera did not expect a settlement until the end of last week, long after the decision to go public had been made, the glaring indicator is Novell's share price. In Ray Noorda's day it had been in the mid-30s, although it subsequently dropped to single figures and only really made progress again after the appointment of Eric Schmidt as CEO. Since Noorda still has a considerable Novell holding, he could well have decided to go public when Novell's share price was at a higher level than when he was at Novell, for psychological reasons. Caldera has in a number of ways had a charmed life so far as timing coincidences are concerned. When it started its case against Microsoft in July 1996, it filed the action just before the court office closed. Microsoft was unable to get a copy the next day because it was a public holiday in Utah, so was left floundering when asked to comment. It turned out that the timing of the filing was fortuitous, but Microsoft was peeved. Equally fortuitous is that IBM has just announced that it is Linux-enabling all its platforms. If Linux has not yet crossed the chasm, it is surely more than half way. ® See also: Sun, SCO, Novell, Citrix put bucks into Caldera MS settles on eve of Caldera trial

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