Checking In With the Stars of Sun
(FORTUNE Magazine) – IT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN QUITE UP THERE WITH A BEATLES reunion, but in Silicon Valley the founders of Sun Microsystems qualify as their own Fab Four. So a rare joint appearance at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.--nearly 20 years after Sun's IPO--provided a perfect opportunity to capture them together. When Vinod Khosla, Bill Joy, Andy Bechtolsheim, and Scott McNealy posed for FORTUNE in 1985, their company was closing in on $1 billion in revenues. More important, Sun would produce innovations--from network servers to its Java programming language--that fueled the web revolution. Then came the fall. Now Sun (with two founders on board) may be poised for a second act. Here's what the Fab Four have been up to.
VINOD KHOSLA, 51, made billions for Kleiner Perkins, the venture capital firm, betting on network startups like Cerent, Siara, and Juniper after leaving Sun in 1984. Today he invests his own money in alternative energy.
BILL JOY, 51, spent 21 years as Sun's chief scientist, helping design Solaris, SPARC, and Java. In 2000 his Wired essay prophesied that nanotech and robotics could endanger the human race. He's now at Kleiner Perkins.
ANDY BECHTOLSHEIM, 50, founded two companies (sold for a combined $313 million) and invested $100,000 to launch Google (his stake may now be worth more than $1 billion) before returning to Sun as chief architect in 2004.
SCOTT McNEALY, 51, became CEO 22 years ago and stayed brash through bubble and burst. A fierce Microsoft critic, he negotiated a 2004 truce that gave Sun a cool $2 billion. Now Sun's new Niagara chip is generating big buzz.
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