Java evangelism RIP

Oracle sacks Java evangelists

Coman Hamilton
Oracle image via Shutterstock

The Java community is riled up in debate about Oracle’s sudden decision to fire its Java evangelists. Is evangelism dead at Oracle?

Oracle has begun letting go of its Java evangelists, according to various individuals on Twitter, Reddit and Facebook. Simon Ritter announced last Friday on Facebook that he was one of the individuals Oracle has made redundant after nearly two decades at Oracle and Sun.

I’ve heard it said that you should try something new every day. Yesterday I thought I’d see what it was like to be made redundant. One month of ‘consultation’ and then I’ll be joining the ranks of the unemployed claiming my job seekers allowance. To be fair, I was expecting this, but feel bad for the numerous other people on my team whom I don’t think saw this coming…

Simon Ritter declined to comment to JAXenter on which evangelists have been let go. However, various sources are claiming that JavaFX evangelist James Weaver and data evangelist Mark Heckler (who has tweeted his is looking for work) are among those to have been let go. Oracle’s Principle Product Manager John Clingan has also switched to Red Hat, while an InfoWorld source claims that “several Oracle executives have either left or were let go recently”.

oracle evangelists

Oracle’s evangelist team page still features Simon Ritter

It is unlikely that the redundancies will extend to key individuals like Brian Goetz and Dalibor Topić, who Oracle lists as members of the Evangelist team. The NetBeans team are not affected by the layoffs. Oracle has not yet commented on the layoffs, so it remains unclear if the changes are isolated, or part of a new widely speculated plan to let go of its entire evangelist team.

With the JavaOne conference coming in early October, the timing of this news of Oracle scaling back its Java evangelism is sending shock waves throughout the Java community.

The state of Java evangelism at Oracle

One of the first to pick up on the layoffs, The Register‘s Simon Sharwood commented that Java’s maturity may be one reason for Oracle to dispense with its evangelists.

“While popular, the technology is mature and many developers have moved on to other things,” Sharwood writes. “It is not exactly in favor with many web developers. There may not therefore be enormous upside in continuing to promote Java, although the technology is hardly likely to emerge from a downturn without evangelists.”

In spite of its enduring pole position in language rankings, Java’s popularity continues to be debated in the developer community. On Reddit, some community members have shown understanding for Oracle’s decision to scale back on Java promotion, with some even saying Java evangelists should continue as Java apologists.

“I gotta agree. Does Java need to be sold any more?” writes anon0108. “it runs everywhere. it runs on everything. we don’t need evangelising.”

On the ServerSide, Cameron McKenzie has discussed how the news might be perceived as a conformation of Oracle’s inability to produce genuine innovation. “The cynical are suggesting that you only evangelize when you have new ideas, and this is simply an indication that Oracle has run out of them.”

Meanwhile, C24 CTO and JAX London speaker John T Davies was quick to point out that Oracle is a money-making machine. “If they [the evangelist team] don’t make money they go, sad but it’s business.”

Author
Coman Hamilton
Coman was Editor of JAXenter.com at S&S Media Group. He has a master's degree in cultural studies and has written and edited content for numerous news, tech and culture websites and magazines, as well as several ad agencies.

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