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Jonathan Schwartz took his “Most Popular CEO Blogger” tag a notch higher last week, when he declared that “SUNW represents the past, and its not without a nostalgic nod that we’ve decided to look ahead.” In other words, this week Sun Microsystems will change its trading symbol on the Nasdaq from SUNW to JAVA, the …

Jonathan Schwartz took his “Most Popular CEO Blogger” tag a notch higher last week, when he declared that “SUNW represents the past, and its not without a nostalgic nod that we’ve decided to look ahead.” In other words, this week Sun Microsystems will change its trading symbol on the Nasdaq from SUNW to JAVA, the programming language founded by the company and launched in 1995. See: http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/entry/java_is_everywhere

Schwartz’s early disclosure drew more than 346 comments (while writing this), most of which were expressions of astonishment. His claim that “the number of people who know Java swamps the number of people who know Sun” attracted limited affirmations, with a significant number calling the move “silliest” and “doomed for failure.”

One posting, claiming to be a Sun investor said: “As a Sun investor I see this as a horrible idea. Not many people know that what the W in SUN stands for, and it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is JAVA is more of a limiting factor than this illusion of infinite possibles. Java is only a single platform and not representative of all of your wonderful products. SUNW allows for more possibilities instead of being known as only the Java company.”

Schwartz did not explain why it took his company years to realize the value of the brand name JAVA and capitalize on it.

One of the interesting comments that agreed to the move said: “Most people do not seem to understand the long term effects of this renaming. Kids in school and colleges today are the consumers, and stock movers of tomorrow. Making this move now ensures that 5-10 years from now, JAVA brand will propel the company. Kids today understand JAVA better than SUNW. This is ofcourse making a bet that Java will be popular 5-10 years from now, but that is a risk Sun has to take. This will have zero impact next term, but a huge impact to the long term growth of Sun. Bravo, Jonathan!”

Schwartz’s strategy behind the change is likely based on that premise. “Ask a teenager if they know Java, and they’ll point to their favorite mobile applications, the video uploader for their social network, or their game console,” he wrote, besides cautioning readers that changing the company’s trading symbol did not mean a change in its vision. “To be very clear, this isn’t about changing the company name or focus – we are Sun, we are a systems company, and we will always be a derivative of the students that created us, Stanford University Network is here to stay,” he summed up.


cnbc.com’s Margaret Brennan’s blog on The Gap’s makeover and the “vision test” new CEO Glenn Murphy faced also emerged as an interesting read. See: http://www.cnbc.com/id/20423181/site/14081545

The once-iconic Gap has been in the news since the unceremonious departures of two of its high-profile CEOs – Millard Drexler and Paul Pressler and its steady slump – sliding sales and stock price. Even as the company made headlines on Friday when investors boosted its shares in a show of support, the numbers, as Brennan rightly put it “seemed totally secondary.”

“Not surprisingly, the intrigue was surrounding just what the CEO Glenn Murphy would say about his vision for the company,” she wrote, further explaining Murphy’s response to criticism that “his experience selling “replenishment” items like drugs and books might not be applicable to the aesthetic driven merchandise of the apparel industry.”

A July 26 report on cnbc.com had stressed that “retail watchers considered the search for a new Gap leader a daunting task, given the dearth of candidates with experience managing such a large global retailer.”

Hence, the naming of Murphy, former CEO of Shoppers Drug Mart Corp in Canada came as surprise to investors.

Brennan drives home the point, summing up with “Khaki may not be king again like it was in the ’90s but Murphy emphasized that he’s giving the company’s new design team creative freedom and support to fix the company’s merchandising problems.”

 

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