IBM has opened acquisition talks with Sun Microsystems, raising the prospect of a massive consolidation of the software, server and storage markets.
According to the Wall Street Journal IBM has mooted a price of $6.5bn. Sun is currently capitalised at $3.7bn ($4.97/share), but its share price has persistently fallen since the heady days of the dot com boom and has under-performed that of its computer systems competitors over the last few years, making it a much less expensive purchase now that it would have been three or four years ago. Legions of long-term Sun investors who have seen the value of their Sun holdings decline drastically will breathe a huge sigh of relief as they see the potential to make some money at least.
Any deal would likely bring very close scrutiny from regulatory authorities, given both firm’s roles in the server, storage and systems software markets.
The Journal goes on to claim Sun has been hawking itself around the industry recently, looking to be bought, with HP also mentioned as one potential sugar daddy. If true, this confirms the perception that Sun has been impoverished by CEO Jonathan Schwartz’s strategy of moving into open source software and relying for revenue growth on converting Solaris, Java and MySQL developers’ into purchasers of Sun’s servers, storage and services.
Doing extensive usability studies has always been a problem for open source projects. Mozilla has decided to implement a new way of tackling this problem for its projects and is moving ahead with the Test Pilot project, which was first announced last year.
Test Pilot is currently only a “still-in-concept platform,” but the plan is to build a representative sample of Firefox users that will be recruited to evaluate new interface concepts and features.
As Mozilla points out in its ‘vision’ statement for Test Pilot, it’s not just Firefox that could profit from a usability lab on this scale, but every Mozilla Labs project could benefit from this wide-scale testing of new ideas and interfaces. As Mozilla’s Aza Raskin notes, most of the feedback that Mozilla currently receives is in the form of feedback from early adopters, anecdotes from users, and ad-hoc experiments.
How it Will Work
After the installation, the Test Pilot addon will gather non-personally-identifiable information from its users and then put these users into different demographic buckets. Depending on the tests that need to be run, users will be selected to participate in different experiments and will be asked to provide feedback on a regular basis. All the information gather through this plugin will be made available to the public.
This sounds like a great project, and we are happy to see that Mozilla is moving forward with this. It will probably still be a while before we see the fruits of this idea, however, as Mozilla is only now hiring a full-time developer to create the actual implementation of the Test Pilot program.
Portland-based AboutUs has secured a $2.5 million round of financing from Voyager Capital with the VC firm’s managing director Erik Bensonjoining its board, reports TechFlash. The company operates a wiki for information primarily about small businesses, organizations, and ‘anything that has a website’. Yes, that includes TechCrunch.
This is different from our own wiki Crunchbase, which featured detailed profiles of companies, products and people even if they don’t have their own websites.
The wiki service attracts a very decent 7 million unique visitors per month to its network of over 12 million pages, and has plans of turning it from a mere resource of information to a full-fledged collaborative work space. In that regard, it’s different from Wikipedia, although both wikis use MediaWiki to power the network.
AboutUs generates revenue from on-site advertising but also sells services like wiki page design and copywriting. According to TechFlash, who spoke with CEO Ray King, AboutUs is already running a profit from its operations, which probably explains why Voyager Capital took the risk of putting more money in the company even in the current economic climate.
We first wrote about the company back in November 2006 when it raised $1 million (the new investment brings its total funding is now about $5 million).
Read the full story here.