Saturday, February 02, 2008

RIP Zimbra?

Some days I wish I could be so optimistic about open source as my good friend Matt. Even when someone sneezes, he can see something positive about open source (open lungs? It means an healthy person. That's the future! Open source everywhere...). Sometimes, I feel a bit more balanced.

One of his last posts talks about the Microsoft hostile bid for Yahoo. In a nutshell, he says that Microsoft will take the open source stuff of Yahoo (e.g. Zimbra) and embrace it.

I just can't see it happen...

Obviously, the assumption is that Yahoo accepts the offer... They should, give me a break, a white knight? A better company and fit than Microsoft?? No way. Remaining an independent company could be nice but when you do not know where to go and someone offers you a 60% increase in your stock price, you take it. The board might disagree, but shareholders won't. This marriage has to happen (citing Manzoni).

Now, if you have a rather successful product called Microsoft Exchange, what do you do with a competing product like Zimbra? You shove it somewhere else, for example to support the online calendaring of MSN+Yahoo. And that's it. This isn't Google. There are no competing products within Microsoft.

I do not believe to be the only one thinking this might happen... I am sure the Zimbra boys are all preparing their bags to leave the boat. They are too smart and too entrepreneurial to stay in a company like Microsoft, in the middle of a messy acquisition.
They are rich. They had a fantastic exit. There is money out there for startups. They will get on a new exciting boat in no time, having great memories of the Zimbra days.

That alone spells the end of Zimbra. Even if Matt is right and camels fly, Microsoft will put its hands on an empty shell... There might be some open source code left, but no people around it. And open source is just about people. Code is secondary.

What can you do if you are using Zimbra today?

I am already out looking for an alternative to my hosted Zimbra environment (which works great, excluding the crappy Outlook plug-in, pain in the neck of my daily life)...

My alternatives? A hosted Microsoft Exchange, Google Apps Premier Edition or some other open source company about to be acquired and screwed.

What would you choose?

I guess Microsoft is pushing me to Google... That's interesting. Wasn't it what they were trying to achieve buying Yahoo? Mmmhhh, maybe not :-)