Brokat lays off 80% of core Gemstone Engineering team


News: Brokat lays off 80% of core Gemstone Engineering team

  1. the first small talk and java/ODBMS based application servers.

    This layoff came as a surprise to Gemstone engineers, who now saw 80% of their development staff axed in one fell swoop.

    These layoffs are the second wave of dropped Gemtone employee's, the first wave being a cut in the former sales force 2.5 weeks before.

    Brokat lays off 40 employees.

    From the article:
    Employees who had been part of GemStone have expressed anger and disappointment with Brokat's move. GemStone had an 18-year history, and was "a pioneer in the Java industry that set industry standards for Java, which is the primary programming language for the internet," said one former GemStone employee. Another employee said, "In less than a year, a 20-year-old [sic] company, with revenues and profits, (though not brilliant, it was a going concern), has been destroyed by another company that is itself only a few years old. That is sad."
  2. ...Java developers were laid off because "the Java application server business has become more commodity-like. Brokat is now focusing on mobile business software,"...
    "To be candid, Brokat has a talented engineering team in Germany that is dramatically less costly than teams in the U.S.," he said. "The cost per engineer [in Germany] is less than half what it is in Beaverton."...

    Does this mean that Gemstone/J is dead?
  3. Given the complexity of the software and the fact that all the key people were laid off, I would not buy a license now ;-) Also, I am not sure that Twister can really compete on the J2EE app servers for the moment. They have tones of marketing materials for Twister, but quite weak execution on their promises...
  4. especially interesting is the fact that there were plans inside brokat to move the whole productline to gemstone/j as applicationserver. Which we all would have hugely prefered over the idea of moving twister to be j2ee-compliant (which will presumably never happen). If they don't do this, the former buying of gemstone doesn't make any sense - gemstone wasn't even a competitor to brokat, so why buy a company just to dump their product?!
  5. Everyone knows that the American economy has seen better times and that many companies, including Brokat and our competitors in the Application Server space, are laying off employees. These are actions of responsible companies, doing what is necessary to ensure their survival and be forthright to their stockholders, customers and employees.

    So, with the caveat that I am not responsible for announcing our product plans (so I won't), I would like to make and/or reinforce a few statements that have been made, that are publicly known facts.

    We have a strong commitment to support our customers. We have a new release of GemStone/J queued up for them and we have retained engineering staff in Beaverton to support them. I have visited or talked to many of my customers about our future and have received very favorable responses to our plans. Knowing that many of our GemStone/J customers purchased that product because of our unique capabilites, including many fans of Persistent Cache Architecture, we would not get a favorable response if our plans were to abandon this feature.

    At JavaOne this year, we presented our m-Business Platform, which will (in stages) be J2EE 1.3 compliant. This clearly reflects our commitment to Java, but also indicates that our focus is in the m-Business arena. How this differs from the Application Server market is for the market itself and the analysts to decide. Yes, this product will not be GemStone/J, but nor will it be Twister. It will combine the best of both products with additional innovations as well. It will also incorporate other technologies that Brokat is involved with and seemlessly support and integrate with the rest of our Brokat product line.

    Please don't discard the statements that were publicly made regarding our reasons for moving some of our product development to Germany. Brokat did not purchase GemStone with the intention of 'destroying' it. Obviously, this is a very emotional issue for everyone involved but today's business environment calls for rational, business thinking.

    GemStone's customers have always been those developers that are building the coolest of the cool applications. I personally started out as a GemStone customer in 1989 (I might say 'what were our competitors doing then?' but I'll save that for another time). In 1998 I moved my young family 3000 miles to take an opportunity to be part of spreading this amazing technology to talented developers. I consider many of my customers as personal friends and live in awe of the amazing talent they tend to demonstrate. Today, although the economy has caused many of my friends to be laid off, with the product line that Brokat is offering, I am just as excited to be with the company as I was in 1998. I look forward to helping great developers build exciting projects - both those I have worked with in the past, and those I will meet in the future.

    My appologies for waxing sentimentally on what is normally a technical forum, but I both needed to and wanted to avoid commenting outside my jurisdiction.
  6. From the article referenced (here), the reasons given were essentially that:
    1. US programmers are more expensive than German ones.
    2. Brokat is focusing on the mobile business software market as it feels the Java app server market has been commoditized.

    What I'm wondering is whether Brokat will continue offering GemStone/J, simply moving its development and support to Germany, or discontinue the product. I'd love to see whether the employees that have been laid off can cash in their options (assuming they had options and could liquidate them) and buy back from Brokat whatever source code they needed for the GemStone/J product and continue on under a new company of their own formation. The latter option would be really cool, albeit quite difficult to pull off.

    Another thought is that Brokat could donate the GemStone/J source to the open source community, but that seems highly unlikely, especially when they could probably sell it for a good chunk of money.

    The real differentiator for GemStone/J was what they called their "persistent cache architecture (PCA)," whereby your java business object classes are written to a GemStone object database, then optionally written to back-end relational databases through an O-R mapping layer (Cocobase) that you can configure (the writes are transactional through to the relational databases if you want them to be). There is no class enhancement, a la ODMG- or JDO-style persistence, prior to deploying and using your business objects; any java class is persistence capable upon standard compilation, as you have to use GemStone's JVM, which contains the persistence magic. They have (now "had"?) in their road map plans to isolate the JVM specifics, allowing for any JVM to be used, but, personally, I can get over having to use GemStone's JVM if it provides me enough value.

    Just my $0.02.

  7. Another example of how the market is 'maturing'. There are too many application servers out there and when a market 'matures' there are usually only a couple of market leaders - in this case IBM and BEA. Note that I am not saying their technologies are better, just that they have market share. IT is littered with superior technology being lost because of market forces or size. With Gemstone/J most likely gone and Silverstream concentrating on Web Services the market will thin out. Expect most of them to do so in the next year as the economy slows. By the end of the year only the big boys will have the capital to still be standing.
  8. sounds like O2 all over again.

    very sad...
    with another great ODB gone do ODBs have any future? The way things are going I think not. OR mapping seems to be the "hot" thing now.

    Steven Sagaert
  9. More layoffs - lovely.
  10. Anything interesting? Were you given any warning about the layoffs? Have they said development is continuing or suspended?