Eazel pulls plugs after cash quest fails

Time to go Gnome...

After a year of singing its praises, Eazel's richest backers weren't around to save it when the going got tough. The company that promised to make Linux easy for technophobes to use is to close.

Bart Decrem announced the news on a Gnome developer's list late afternoon Pacific Time, after much speculation. The company laid off half of its staff earlier this year, and failed to raise new funds.

In a move that we likened to dragging a PR intern off the street and threatening to hit them with a rock until they came up with a Linux strategy, Dell invested $2m in the company in its first round, but this year decided that enough was enough. $11m came from Accel Ventures.

The company recruited convivial Sun veteran Brian Croll, who ironically enough was responsible for knifing Sun's efforts to open source Solaris and Java, to head the marketing. Ironically, because Sun subsequently endorsed the free software file manager annointing it as future front end to Solaris.

Co-founder Andy Hertzfeld is to host what's left of the Web site privately for the time being, announced Decrem. Being GPL, the source code is freely available for developers to continue work.

Eazel's failure won't diminish the achievement of Nautilus - it's still the most ambitious standalone file manager for Linux - but it does nail a business model that saw over 70 staff burn through $13m on what is merely a file manager. But there's no reason why it shouldn't flourish as part of the GNOME project. ®

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