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Sun's software deputy quits

DeWitt-Kohn syndrome claims another over July 4

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Sun Microsystems' ongoing effort to build a strong software business hit a snag this week as the company's number two code executive resigned, The Register can confirm.

Mark McClain's official title at Sun was vice president of software marketing. He served under both EVP of software John Loiacono and CMO Anil Gadre. McClain used to head up Waveset Technologies, an identity software company that Sun acquired in late 2003. Sun executives often tout how grand the Waveset technology is and were obviously impressed with McClain's leadership as well. His task was to "drive software product management and marketing as well as all business planning, software strategy and outbound marketing programs."

In the end, however, life at a company the size of Sun didn't do it for McClain - this is a condition known as DeWitt-Kohn syndrome.

"I want each of you to know that I feel thankful, honored and privileged to have worked alongside all of you for the past 18 months at Sun," McClain wrote to his software and marketing troops in a memo obtained by El Reg. "There are many things that cause me to have great optimism as Sun enters (fiscal year 2006) - a strong product line, a renewed focus on the fundamentals of growth and earnings, and a resilience and confidence that is one of Sun's greatest corporate assets.  

"But, more than that, I have learned that this is a special company. The caliber and passion of the people here is unquestionable. At the end of the day, the business of technology is ultimately the business of people, so I have great hope, and confidence, that Sun will continue to make an impact in the industry for many, many years because it is Sun's people that will make that impact."

That's touching stuff.  

Sun had less to say about McClain's exit.

"Sun has a policy of not commenting on personnel matters and the Company does not respond to rumors or speculation in the marketplace. As any public Company, we issue announcements concerning executive appointments and departures at the appropriate time."

Since all of Sun US is on vacation this week - a July 4 tradition - it clearly was not the appropriate time to issue an announcement.

McClain, however, did confirm his departure when reached on his cell phone.

"Yeah, unfortunately or fortunately, I guess, I can confirm what you heard.

"I continue to live in Austin, Texas where Waveset was based and running the Sun software marketing team which is largely based in California just became too much of a personal sacrifice. I was spending too much time going back and forth. It's one of those same, old stories. I'm trying to spend more time with my family."

Aside from its Java success, Sun has long struggled to generate much cash with its infrastructure applications and management software. In particular, Sun tried and failed many times to crack the once lucrative application server market. The company just acquired SeeBeyond, hoping to complete its Java Enterprise System stack of products.

This makes McClain's exit particularly painful as Sun could use some fresh, creative blood to push products along. ®

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