Departing Sun Co-Founder Keeping His Business Cards

Published on October 23, 2008
by John Paczkowski

Andy Bechtolsheim has given his notice again. The Sun (JAVA) co-founder is leaving the company he helped establish in 1982, just four years after returning to it and reinvigorating its aging product line. His new gig: chairman and chief development officer of Arista Networks, a start-up he funded with Stanford University’s David Cheriton that sells lean, high-performance network switches for data centers to the likes of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and digital media streaming company BitGravity. Together with Cisco alum Jayshree Ullal, the two hope to take on Cisco Systems (CSCO) in the data center infrastructure market.

This is the second time Bechtolsheim has left Sun, and in all likelihood his last. On Monday, the company warned of a much larger-than-expected quarterly loss on lower revenue. Sun shares have fallen more than 70 percent this year, and they fell lower still on news of Bechtolsheim’s departure.

Sun, still reeling from the beating it’s been taking on Wall Street, claims it’s not losing Bechtolsheim–just his undivided attention. “Andy will remain with the company as an essential product architect as part of the Sun Systems group; however he will be working with Sun in a reduced capacity as a result of his being named Chief Development Officer of Arista Networks, a start-up company he founded,” Sun said in a statement. “Andy will focus his time with Sun on technology development and ongoing systems projects to help drive new product architectures, including X64 servers and storage servers, and will continue to work on key strategic initiatives such as HPC.”

Just how Bechtolsheim will manage that with a new full-time job as chairman and chief development officer of Arista remains to be seen. Although if anyone can do it, he can.

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