James Gosling Finally Speaks Up On Why He Left Oracle

Gosling Breaks His Silence

Jessica Thornsby

Gosling picks JavaOne week to reveal why he left Oracle, and why Larry Ellison gives him the “creeps.”


JavaOne may be in full swing, but
James Gosling has still managed to steal some of Oracle’s limelight
by making JavaOne the week he finally breaks his silence on why he
left Oracle. Previously, he has been tight-lipped about events
surrounding his departure, cryptically hinting “just about anything I could
say that would be accurate and honest would do more harm than
good…” Although, he did imply the atmosphere at Sun/Oracle was
not a harmonious one, revealing that he was “grilled” about the patent situation between
Google and Sun during supposed integration meetings.


In the last few weeks, he has begun
to adopt a more confrontational stance: launching a T-shirt
campaign urging Oracle to free Java and – bizarrely – warning us
that completely open sourcing Java could be crucial in saving us
from a sci-fi dystopia future.


However, over dinner with eWEEK in
San Francisco, James Gosling finally dived into the specifics regarding his


There are no prizes for anyone who
guessed wages had something to do with Gosling’s departure. He
reveals that he was dissatisfied with the wages Oracle were
offering him, which he describes as his base Sun salary, but
without the bonuses the company used to award executives who were
vice presidents or above. “For the privilege of working for Oracle,
they wanted me to take a big pay cut,” Gosling said. This was
combined with what Gosling felt was a lack of influence in the
future development of his creation, Java. “My ability to decide
anything at Oracle was minimized,” Gosling said. “Oracle is an
extremely micromanaged company. So myself and my peers in the Java
area were not allowed to decide anything. All of our authority to
decide anything evaporated,” he told eWeek.


This feeling of powerlessness seems
to have been exasperated by a personal dislike of Oracle’s Larry
Ellison and his invasive, hand’s-on management style. “He’s the
kind of person that just gives me the creeps,” he said, explaining
that Larry Ellison was the driving force behind every decision
affecting Java at Oracle.


Ultimately, he perceived his new job
at Oracle, was simply to be Oracle’s public presence for Java – a
role that he had, reportedly, taken a pay-cut for.


When asked whether he now wishes Sun
had been acquired by IBM, he admitted that he and Sun Chairman
Scott McNealy had previously debated this, but had decided that an
IBM acquisition would result in more lay-offs. In reality, Oracle
didn’t do too shabbily itself when it came to job cuts during the
long, drawn-out acquisition and the inevitable aftermath.


He also had some adverse words to
say about Google and Android, stating Sun “were pretty ticked off
with what they were doing and the way they were doing it” but
claiming that he has learnt that, ultimately, litigation simply
isn’t worth it. “The U.S. vs. Microsoft trial pretty much destroyed
a year of my life.” Gosling also acknowledges that suing the
popular-Google (who he refers to as having the aura of the
“universe’s love child”) was only going to result in a public
relation’s nightmare.


But, when it comes down to it, how
concerned is Gosling about his creation? According to the
interview, not very: Oracle relies on Java, and Java has acquired a
life and momentum in the wider open source community, outside of
Oracle’s reach.


“It’s going to be rocky for awhile,”
he concludes but, ultimately, he is confident that Java will

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