As I write this, people are scurrying around our BZ Media offices in the village of Huntington on Long Island’s beautiful North Shore, preparing for a move to one of those high-rise office park buildings that have sprouted up along our major thoroughfares.
The decisions always come down to what to bring, and what to leave behind. And, as I go through old notebooks and review press kits I received going back to 2000, I’m struck by how much the industry has changed over those years.
Much of it is reflected in the names of companies no longer around, either swallowed up years ago by the bigger fish in their ponds, or left to die along the shoulders of the technology superhighway, as newer ideas and innovations sped past them in what for me is a 12-year blur.
We remember the companies we called winners back in the day. Rational Software (swallowed whole by IBM). Borland (then Inprise, then Borland again, now a Micro Focus subsidiary, with its development tools owned by Embarcadero). Telelogic (also eaten alive by IBM). Each had great developer tools, and each lives on under new leadership.
But back in the mid- to late 1990s, when technology was still so new, there were multiple companies vying in the IDE space, in the middleware space and in the data space.
Anyone remember Jacada? They were going to put a more modern client/server spin on legacy software, fusing complex applications to create a unified interaction for users for Java and, later, Windows. Whatever happened to them? SOLD! to Software AG in 2008. (At least its “legacy” integration software.) Today, the company is focused on call-center software. As the late, great manager of the New York Yankees Casey Stengel would say, “You could Google it up.”
Remember Iona? Founded in 1991, they were hotshots back in the day, raking in money and spending it like drunken sailors. They once held a contest in which the winner would win a trip to Ireland (the company’s headquarters were in Dublin), and then get see Bruce Springsteen at just about the height of his popularity in a concert over there. Iona was in CORBA, with its Orbix product, then it wasn’t after CORBA was no longer the hot new technology. It became a SOA company with its Artix product, until that too was no longer the hot new technology. Where are they now? SOLD! to Progress Software in 2008.
Then there was Curl. In the folder I created for Curl back in 2001, after its Surge product was released, I stashed a PowerPoint that explained the company’s vision for delivering enterprise applications that required data-driven user interfaces and more. This would be the beginning of what was being called “rich Internet applications,” which, of course, has led us to where we are today. While Curl’s technology did not win, its vision certainly did.
And no discussion of my old folders would be complete without bringing up WebGain. If ever a company seemed like it had everything going for it, this was the company. Founded as a joint venture between BEA Systems (grabbed up by Oracle) and the equity firm Warburg Pincus at the height of the dot-com bubble, it went on an acquisition spree, scarfing up such companies as The Object People (TopLink) and TogetherSoft (the UML modeling company), and acquiring Visual Café from Symantec. But then, the bubble burst, parts were sold, and the company—whose PR folks were constantly on us to write about them—silently went away, closing in 2002 without so much as a whimper.
SD Times said goodbye to WebGain this way in its Jan. 1, 2003 issue:
David Rubinstein is editor-in-chief of SD Times.