Tuesday, November 13, 2007
- Turns out the 'big' hearing back on the 6th wasn't quite as big as I'd hoped. The court won't hear the fire-sale motion until the 16th, and Novell's motion to restart the Utah proceedings is still under advisement, so we've still got those to look forward to.
I suppose SCO could regard the outcome of that hearing as a win, in the sense that a temporary stay of execution is a win. I never had high expectations about the SuSE arbitration matter, and it does seem sort of reasonable to me that it would be stayed along with all the other proceedings. Which doesn't preclude SuSE/Novell from asking the judge to unstay it, of course, and I hope they at least try for that.
- Right on the heels of the proposed fire sale, we learned that SCO sold one of its two patents for about $570k. This deal is what SCO's "Cattleback Holdings" subsidiary was all about. The good Mr. Blankenhorn bashes the deal here, and it's an entertaining bit of invective, definitely worth reading.
Blankenhorn does bobble the facts a bit at one point, where he asserts SCO's been suing over patents. Patents are about the only thing they haven't been suing over yet, and looking at the patent they sold it's a bit surprising they haven't. It's one of those vague and extremely broad patents so beloved by patent trolls, which is what I suspect the buyer wants it for. Maybe SCO was just too dumb to do it themselves. I mean, patent trolling is at least as odious a business as the stuff SCO's been up to, and I'm not trying to encourage that sort of thing. It's just that patent trolling often succeeds, a trait not shared by SCO's "method and concept" trolling. They could've quietly extracted mid-sized payoffs from a few key industry players and retired to the golf course, without ever attracting substantial media attention. But noooo, instead they had to declare jihad against all Linux users, and look where it's gotten them.
Nobody's filed an objection to the patent deal just yet, but I suspect it's only a matter of time. If you're operating in Chapter 11, you don't simply transfer assets to a paper subsidary and have said subsidiary sell them. If you're bankrupt, the law assumes you're bankrupt because you're no good at managing your assets, and you need adult supervision for a while. That means you aren't supposed to dispose of significant assets without asking "mother may I?" first, which is what SCO just did, in a sneaky sort of way. Stay tuned on this one.
- Oh, and the US Trustee's now joined the chorus of parties objecting to the fire sale. I still don't understand BK law enough to grasp exactly what this "ombudsman" business is all about, but I gather the US Trustee is entitled to supervise the proceedings to ensure the sale proceeds fairly, and SCO's proposal doesn't provide for that.
My overall impression is that SCO declared bankruptcy without really understanding what it meant. I think Darl & Co. just saw it as a way to make the Novell suit "go away", and figured it'd be business as usual other than that. I suspect it's been one rude shock after another since then. Once they realized plan A was not to be, they came up with plan B, the fire sale, which looks to have been cobbled up in a great hurry. I can see why Darl likes the proposed deal, since he co uld divest himself of pesky things like "products" and "employees", and in return he'd get a big pile of cash so he could continue hunting the white whale. And it's a good deal for York too; they get software assets that just might be worth something, for what's basically pocket change by investment firm standards. If you aren't Darl, and you aren't York, the deal has very little to recommend it. I don't suppose they spent a lot of time figuring out how to sell the proposal to the BK court, which they're going to need to do. SCO isn't used to asking permission, doesn't really know how, and is either too dumb to hire somebody who knows the ropes, or too dumb to listen to them.
- Here's an earlier InformationWeek story about IBM & Novell objecting to the fire sale. It's a Paul McDougall piece, but it looks like even he can't dream up a positive spin for this.
- I think McDougall's problem is that he's just enough of a journalist (barely) that he tries to stick to facts, more or less, and merely spins them to fit his biases. Which is a rank amateur's error. Look at how the pros handle it -- take MOG for example. She isn't limited by such mundane concerns as "truth" and "accuracy". If a client, say SCO for example, is paying you tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dollars every year, the truth is precisely whatever the client says it is, no more, no less. Witness her bizarro-world account of the BK hearing on the 6th. She wasn't there, by all reports, and she doesn't claim to have been there, but she goes on and on in exquisite detail about what allegedly happened. It stands to reason she got the account from someone with SCO, and possibly improvised some details here and there. And still, absolute silence about the business arrangement between MOG and SCO. Why, full disclosure would be bad for business, of course.
And a precarious business it is. Think about it: MOG's current gig involves misleading the public (and potential SCO investors/buyers) about what's going on in BK court. But she also gets paid at the discretion of said BK court. If you ask me, it wouldn't be at all unreasonable for Novell, or IBM, or the US Trustee to try to get the payments halted as an unnecessary expense. Even if it didn't work, it'd be highly entertaining to put various people on the stand and make them try to justify what SCO's spent on G2 over the years, and explain what they've gotten in return.
- A few more tidbits on the renewed litigation in Germany. A few years ago, in "round 1", SCO, or more precisely SCO's German subsidiary, promised to stop making false claims about Linux in Germany. Then just recently they went ahead and did it again, once again demonstrating the value of a SCO promise. My theory is that they figured BK nullified the previous agreement, so they were free to start lying again. SJVN covers it here, and PJ attempts to explain the vagaries of German law here. A viable alternate theory is that SCO Germany is in mid-meltdown right now, as evidenced by their unlikely new CEO, and the latest threats aren't part of a coherent strategy.
- The delisting hearing was held on the 8th, so far as we know, but so far there's been no word on the outcome. Which isn't surprising at all really, because Nasdaq likes to make up its mind behind closed doors. So this is just to remind everyone that BK court isn't the only game in town.
- A little product news to report. All you hardcore Shout Postcard fanatics out there will be pleased to know it runs on the new Palm Centro. Which is entirely unsurprising since Shout Postcard already ran on previous Palm gadgets, and the Centro's more or less the same thing, in a smaller case and at a lower price point. In related news, Vista runs on the new chips Intel just announced.
In case you're wondering, the Centro is not the long-promised Linux-based Palm we've heard so much noise about. It'll be fun to see how SCO reacts, assuming Palm ever goes down that route like they keep promising.
Ok, so the real bit of interest here is that the press release strongly downplays the SCO connection. Now "Me Inc." is the name of the company, it seems, and we only learn it's a SCO subsidiary down toward the very end. I suppose it's only natural that they're ashamed about being part of SCO, and since they are part of SCO it's only natural they'd try to be a little sneaky about hiding the fact.
- In more thrilling product news, there's a new maintenance pack out for OSR6. Coverage at InternetNews and CNNMoney. The second bit is just the press release itself, actually. Seems the new maintenance pack brings the latest exciting advances in Xenix emulation. Yeah, yeah, I know, back when OSR6 first came out SCO was bragging about how great Xenix emulation was, and how you could run all these old 16-bit games from the Xenix 286 days. So either the maintenance pack makes Xenix mode even more perfect, or perhaps it wasn't quite as fabulous as SCO led everyone to believe back then.
In any case, the new update means that SCO's website now has a bunch of links with 'mp3' in the URL, which may be enough for them to fall afoul of the vast RIAA dragnet. Which would be a vastly entertaining spectacle.