VisualCafe Acquired by Company to be Named Later

BEA Systems Inc. and investment firm Warburg, Pincus Ventures -- the company that originally funded BEA -- joined forces to form an independent company that will focus on developing tools for software development.

The company, which rides on a horse with no name, has managed to gallop to Cupertino, Calif., where it acquired VisualCafe and other parts of Symantec Corp.'s (www.symantec.com) Internet Tools Business Unit.

In a surreal style, this company made a $75 million acquisition, and it doesn't have a CEO yet -- or hardly any management at all. Joe Menard, president of the e-commerce servers division at BEA (www.beasys.com), says all jobs related to the Symantec acquisition will have a place with the new company. No BEA employees will be moving over.

"We set [the company] up as independent because we believe there to be a volume market that shouldn't be locked inside another company," Menard explains. "This technology needs to be incubated as a private company, which will have the flexibility to make the investments as they see fit."

There is, however, symmetry between VisualCafe and WebLogic, BEA's pure Java application server. For instance, the latest version of VisualCafe is packaged with a version of the WebLogic server. "The VisualCafe group did that because the WebLogic server has been the leader in the [Enterprise JavaBeans] EJB environment," Menard says. The new company will be open to supporting other servers, such as WebSphere from IBM Corp. (www.ibm.com) and the iPlanet Application Server from the Sun-Netscape Alliance (www.iplanet.com).

As for future plans, Menard says the nameless company will develop or acquire other technologies or tools to make a complete development environment, and expand towards the server and the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) platform. "I'd like us to get a CEO and let the company speak for where it wants to go," he says.

In other Java news, Sun Microsystems Inc. (www.sun.com) stunned the Java Business Expo in New York by announcing that it removed Java from consideration by the European Computer Manufacturers' Association (ECMA), a standards body to which Sun had been considering turning over control of the platform.

Menard took some time to explain BEA's position on Sun's decision: "If you're going to establish something in this industry, you can have a standards body or drive standards yourself. Proprietary things can move very quickly but they're not open. A standards body is open but it moves very slowly. I hope we can work with Sun for a much more open process so Sun can move rapidly but is not in sole control. There may be reasons right now you don't want to go through a standards process, and I hope Sun opens that process up."