Sun Microsystems in the Twilight Zone

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTA103
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1982 - 2004
Organization : Sun Microsystems
Pub Date : 2004
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : Global, USA
Industry : Information Technology

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Background Note

The four people who came together to setup Sun Microsystems in 1982 had seen a great market potential for high-speed workstation computers. Andreas Bechtolsheim (Bechtolsheim), a Stanford engineering graduate student, had built a workstation from spare parts...

Sun's Business

Incorporated in California in February 1982 and reincorporated in Delaware in July 1987, Sun employed approximately 36,100 employees in 2004. It conducted business in over 100 countries...

Sun's Decline

Sun had risen to fame during the early 1990s with its huge bet on the server market. Riding the exploding growth in that market, Sun reached $1 billion in revenue--the fastest rise ever for a computer company with a direct sales force. During this time, Sun seemed to single-handedly drive innovation in both hardware (SPARC chips) and software (Java, Solaris)...

The Road Ahead

Sun reported a net loss of $376 million or 11 cents per share for fiscal year 2004. McNealy was quick to defend his company's position, noting that Sun's services business had reached a benchmark $1 billion in sales, with total revenues of $1.04 billion compared with $979 million in the same period last year...


Exhibit I: Sun - Key Numbers
Exhibit II: Sun - 2003 Sales
Exhibit III: Sun - 2003 Sales

Exhibit IV: Sun - Valuation Numbers (As on 26th August 2004)
Exhibit V: Sun - Compared To Competition
Exhibit VI: Sun - Officers
Exhibit VII: Sun - Selected Financial Data (5 years)


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