Scott Mcnealy and Sun Microsystems

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN039
Case Length : 14 Pages
Period : 1984-2006
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Sun Microsystems
Industry : Information Technology Countries : USA

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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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The Golden Years

It was McNealy's dynamism and vision that were largely responsible for Sun's rapid growth in the first two decades of the company's existence. When McNealy first joined Sun, he was in charge of manufacturing, but later became responsible for sales as well. This helped him develop a good understanding of different areas of the business. After McNealy became CEO in 1984, he played an important role in shaping Sun's vision that 'The Network is the Computer'. Sun was committed to developing technologies that would allow computers to connect seamlessly over a network, thus increasing their power tremendously. Networking would allow computing to be provided like a utility, just like electricity and telecommunications...

Leadership and Entrepreneurship Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Case Studies

The Decline

The beginning of the new millennium turned out to be inauspicious for the US economy. The collapse of several dotcom and telecom companies combined with the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US sent the economy into a decline, and one of the worst affected by these adversities was the IT industry...


According to analysts, Sun could have become one of the giants of the IT industry, on par with IBM and Microsoft. Many concepts that had become the standard in the early 2000s, like networking and open source, were first popularized by Sun. But the company took some missteps along the way, which did not allow it to take advantage of its resources. "They've (Sun) always had lots of great things on paper. But when it comes to execution, they're lacking. They always seem to be behind where they need to be" said Gary Feierstein, vice-president for information technology at Premier Inc., a hospital management company...


Exhibit I: Sun's Share Prices
Exhibit II: Sun's Annual Financials


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