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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McNealy was born on November 13, 1954 in Indiana. His father, William McNealy was vice chairman at American Motors Corp. (AMC).7 As a child, McNealy took an avid interest in the auto industry - an interest encouraged by his father, who often discussed business with the youngster and allowed him to accompany him when he went to play golf with people like Lee A. Iacocca.8

After attending Cranbrook Kingswood School, a preparatory school near Detroit, McNealy was accepted at Harvard University, from where he graduated with a degree in Economics in 1976. He then tried for a place at Stanford Graduate School of Business (Stanford) but was rejected.

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While trying for an admission into Stanford, McNealy took up a job as foreman at the Rockwell International Corp. (Ohio), which made body panels for trucks. When he eventually got into Stanford in 1978, he chose to specialize in manufacturing rather than the more popular finance. He was not a dedicated student and later admitted that he spent more time 'goofing off' than in classes.

One of his classmates recalled that McNealy never bothered to attend any class that he did not think would help him get a job. At that point McNealy was not ambitious. Reportedly, his ambition was to start a small machine shop that he could leave to his children, and then, to retire early. After graduating in 1980, he worked in the manufacturing departments of FMC Corp. (which made tanks for the US army) and of minicomputer maker Onyx Systems. In 1982, Vinod Khosla (Khosla), McNealy's classmate at Stanford, asked him to join him, Andy Bechtolsheim (Bechtolsheim) and Bill Joy (Joy) in starting a computer manufacturing unit to make and sell workstations operating on UNIX.9

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7]  AMC was a US automobile manufacturer formed in 1954 from the merger of two pioneering auto manufacturers, Nash-Kelvinator Corp. (successor to Nash Motor Co., founded 1916) and Hudson Motor Car Co. (founded 1909). AMC mainly made compact cars, general trucks and buses. The company was taken over by Chrysler in 1987.

8]  Lee Iacocca was later to become the chairman of Chrysler Corp. and one of the best known businessmen in the US.

9]  UNIX was an operating system first developed at Bell Labs in the 1960s. Bell Labs used to distribute UNIX to different universities along with the source code, which meant that users could make their own modifications to the operating system.


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