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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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The Sun Shines On Oracle in Colorado

Comments (7)

Sorry – I just could not help myself when crafting that title.  I wonder if it’ll get good SEO juice.  And yes – it was a really sunny day today in Boulder.

By now everyone in the tech universe knows that Oracle has signed an agreement to acquire Sun.  I – for one – did not see that coming.  There has already been plenty of analysis on the good and the bad of it from a tech industry perspective.  However, I haven’t seen much commentary on what it means for the Colorado tech community.

If you live outside Colorado, your first reaction is probably “who cares.”  However, did you know that both companies have their second largest US operations in Colorado?  Nope, that hadn’t occurred to me either until I met with senior execs at both companies two weeks ago with Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.  Think about it – two native Silicon Valley companies have their largest US operation in Colorado. 

During my two day trip to Silicon Valley with Governor Ritter, Don Elliman (head of the Colorado office of economic development), and Mike Locatis (Colorado CIO), we had about a dozen meetings.  The Sun and Oracle meetings were uniquely interesting because of the large presence each company has in Colorado.  Sun’s comes from a combination of organic growth and their acquisition of StorageTek; Oracle’s comes from organic growth and their acquisitions of PeopleSoft (which had previously acquired JD Edwards), BEA (which had a good sized operation in Boulder that resulted from two other acquisitions), and Hyperion (which had previously acquired Decisioneering).  I don’t have the exact number of total employees of both companies in Colorado but I’m guessing it’s around 10,000 with a heavy concentration of them near Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs.

In both the Oracle and Sun meetings, the executives that we met with were extremely enthusiastic about their teams in Colorado.  Even if you discount their enthusiasm based on the fact they were talking to the governor of Colorado, it was sincere and substantiated by their perspectives on the capability, quality, and loyalty of their Colorado-based workforces.  It was clear that regardless of future acquisition activity, both companies had plans to continue to grow their bases in Colorado.

Now, acquisitions are always complex and this one isn’t expected to close until sometime this summer.  However, given the existing presence of both companies in Colorado, I expect there will be additional focus on the appropriate integration dynamics.  While they will likely include some rationalization of people and facilities, I expect it will be healthy for the long term growth of Colorado as a technology center, especially given the positive experiences each company has had with large workforces in Colorado.

  • TechGuy

    Good start to a blog, article, thought, or whatever. There are a lot of areas you didn't begin to investigate, and others where you just completely guessed instead of doing any research. Unfortunately, there are not 10,000 combined people in Colorado. Sun has just over 2,000 (yes, it used to be more like 5,000 right after the STK acquisition, but layoff's happen). As of 2006, Oracle employed just over 1,600 in Colorado. BEA systems in Boulder never employed more than 1,000 people, so the maximum employed by a combined Oracle-Sun is around 5,000.

    This (unfortunately) is FAR less than JD Edwards, BEA, Oracle, Sun and STK combined employed (which was over 10,000). Ahh lovely acquisitions, nothing like cutting 50% of employees to really help out the economy.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

      I don’t have the exact numbers from my meeting, but I recall Sun stating there are 4,000 people on their Broomfield campus (I just checked the web site – http://www.sun.com/corp_emp/search.cgi?loc=Colora… – and it lists 4,000) and some others throughout the state.  BEA is 200-ish (I think I recall 240) but I thought I heard a higher total number (Denver and Colorado Springs) from Oracle than 1,600 (I had about 4,000 in my head) in the meeting (they listed the exact numbers but I didn’t write them down.)  That said, I’ll accept the number may be closer to 5,000 than 10,000 – as I said in the post the 10,000 number was a guess.There is no question that – post acquisition and after the first wave of integration the employment numbers should decrease.  However, over time, the number will likely grow again, especially as there is critical mass for the company (e.g. large geographic presence in the region.)  I’m much more focused on the long term health of the tech community (think 10 years), especially given the inevitable stress the individual companies would come under anyway in a down economy given their fully burdened, pre-acquisition cost structures.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

      I don’t have the exact numbers from my meeting, but I recall Sun stating there are 4,000 people on their Broomfield campus (I just checked the web site – http://www.sun.com/corp_emp/search.cgi?loc=Colora… – and it lists 4,000) and some others throughout the state.  BEA is 200-ish (I think I recall 240) but I thought I heard a higher total number (Denver and Colorado Springs) from Oracle than 1,600 (I had about 4,000 in my head) in the meeting (they listed the exact numbers but I didn’t write them down.)  That said, I’ll accept the number may be closer to 5,000 than 10,000 – as I said in the post the 10,000 number was a guess.

      There is no question that – post acquisition and after the first wave of integration the employment numbers should decrease.  However, over time, the number will likely grow again, especially as there is critical mass for the company (e.g. large geographic presence in the region.)  I’m much more focused on the long term health of the tech community (think 10 years), especially given the inevitable stress the individual companies would come under anyway in a down economy given their fully burdened, pre-acquisition cost structures.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

      I don’t have the exact numbers from my meeting, but I recall Sun stating there are 4,000 people on their Broomfield campus (I just checked the web site – http://www.sun.com/corp_emp/search.cgi?loc=Colora… – and it lists 4,000) and some others throughout the state.  BEA is 200-ish (I think I recall 240) but I thought I heard a higher total number (Denver and Colorado Springs) from Oracle than 1,600 (I had about 4,000 in my head) in the meeting (they listed the exact numbers but I didn’t write them down.)  That said, I’ll accept the number may be closer to 5,000 than 10,000 – as I said in the post the 10,000 number was a guess.There is no question that – post acquisition and after the first wave of integration the employment numbers should decrease.  However, over time, the number will likely grow again, especially as there is critical mass for the company (e.g. large geographic presence in the region.)  I’m much more focused on the long term health of the tech community (think 10 years), especially given the inevitable stress the individual companies would come under anyway in a down economy given their fully burdened, pre-acquisition cost structures.

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