Friday, March 11, 2005

Microsoft Acquires Groove

Was it 10 years ago that IBM acquired Lotus? The story, as I remember it, went something like this. IBM bought Lotus because of Notes. How well the acquisition turns out will depend to a large extent on whether Ray Ozzie, architect of Notes, stayed. In fact he stayed for a couple of years.

Then, in 1997, Ozzie founded Groove Networks, and the firm developed Groove Virtual Office. Yesterday, Microsoft acquired Groove and appointed Ray Ozzie as CTO, reporting to Bill Gates. It seems as though Microsoft is at least as determined to hang on to Ozzie as was IBM. Interesting chap, this Ozzie. It's a pity, although understandable, that he hasn't posted to his blog in almost a year.

Another interesting chap who does blog regularly is Mitch Kapor. His post on the MicroGroove deal makes fascinating reading (to me at least).
When Ray came to me the other week and said that the Microsoft acquisition would keep the current Groove employees in place in Massachusetts and create incentives for them and that it was best way to continue to realize the company's vision of peer-to-peer information sharing, I decided I could support the transaction even though a surface reading of my career might suggest otherwise.

In several press calls I've tried to emphasize that the world looks very different in 2005 than it did in 1998 when Groove started. Now I would say a project like Groove should most likely be started as free/open source software.
I'm wondering whether Mitch tried to persuade Ray to open-source the Groove code. Would this have been better than the Microsoft deal as a way to realize the Groove "vision of peer-to-peer information sharing"?

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