Sun CEO takes stage, ignores IBM deal talk

What do you do if your company is reported to be involved in an $8 billion acquisition and you’re already scheduled to give a big speech?******If you’re Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, you honor the commitment and then make a swift exit.******The pony-tailed CEO took the lectern on Wednesday at the Open Source Business Conference at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel, his first public appearance since reports surfaced last week that IBM and Sun were in acquisition talks (reports that neither company has so far commented on).******While the putative deal has produced endless column inches of analysis and speculation in the business media, it had no place in Schwartz’s remarks. Instead, Schwartz spoke about Sun’s recently-released cloud computing service, largely rehashing talking points he made in an earlier series of blog posts.******The most intriguing nugget, for those running Schwartz’s comments through the filter of an IBM deal, was his characterization of Sun’s open source operating system as the “single most valuable” part of the company, as it represents the key building block for Sun to play in high-margin, adjacent markets like networking.******When his 30 minutes were up, Schwartz slipped behind a curtain and retreated backstage, conveniently avoiding any reporters in the audience eager for ask him about the IBM deal.******And when a couple of reporters greeted him at the hotel’s exit, Schwartz proved equally aloof – the surprised CEO was good-mannered enough to shake hands, but didn’t break his stride, or his silence, to answer a question about the progress of the IBM deal. Maybe next time…

Tech earnings: Up, down and all around

This is turning out to be an earnings season when all bets are off on how technology giants will perform. With tech earnings taking the market on a roller-coaster ride, it wouldn’t be surprising if investors are a little sick in the stomach already. 

The hits and misses so far among the biggest and brightest:

Intel: Missed expectations, profit fell 90 percent and they said they wouldn’t give a detailed quarterly forecast due to the economic uncertainty.

IBM: Beat expectations and gave an outlook above Wall Street estimates. Not only did IBM shares surge on the news, it even lifted major U.S. indexes.

Apple races past Google, IBM in sight

Olympics heat

Apple’s market cap edged over Google’s to hit $159 billion today (kudos to AllThingsDigital’s John Paczkowski for spotting this).

Is the maker of the iPhone, iPod and Mac worth more than the top Internet company’s $157 billion? How soon might either beat tech stalwart IBM, which is now worth $170 billion?

Mull over these stats to help you decide, courtesy of Reuters Estimates:

Forecast fiscal 2008 revenue
IBM: $109 billion, Google: $22 billion, Apple: $33 billion

Microsoft, the $250 billion underdog

Microsoft may be the behemoth monster 800-pound gorilla of software, whose Windows and Office products are nothing short of Golden Gooses. Or Geese. Or whatever.Video: Bill Gates last day at Microsoft

But it’s interesting to hear how its leaders view themselves. To hear Chief Executive Steve Ballmer talk about Microsoft, you might think it is still the underdog startup it was 33 years ago when Bill Gates and Paul Allen started the company . Or the sapling it was when Ballmer joined in 1980.

People are underestimating Microsoft. Yes, we make mistakes, but we come back and learn from those things.

Fat and boring? IBM CEO jokes Big Blue’s no Google

schmidt.jpgIBM Chief Executive Sam Palmisano gloated to an audience of companies that sell its wares that Big Blue would make it through the current economic downturn with flying colors, since it is old and experienced. Riffing on the idea of age, he compared his tech behemoth to Internet star Google Inc, whose CEO Eric Schmidt was about to join him on stage in LA.

“It’s interesting when people think about companies like IBM and Google. I mean, we couldn’t be farther apart. We’re old, they’re young, we’re kind of boring, they’re innovative, we’re slow, they’re fast, we’re fat, they’re skinny,” Palmisano joked.

“How could you guys possibly work together?” the IBM chief asked himself. “I don’t know!” (The conclusion was that they worked well together, after all.)