“Few companies fit the role of poster boys for the stock market roller coaster of the last six months better than Linux start-ups Red Hat and VA Linux. Acclaimed as Wall Street’s darlings after their stunning 1999 public offerings, both companies have of late been plagued with an unremitting stream of bad press as their share prices have declined. VA Linux is currently trading at $39, down from a high of $320. Red Hat is at $26 — call it $52 to account for a split, but that’s still down significantly from a pre-split high of $151.
Both companies also lumber under the additional burden of being treated as canaries in the Linux gold mine. Red Hat’s IPO was widely considered a validation of the commercial potential of Linux. But its stock price slide is now hailed as proof that there is no money to be made in the entire Linux sector.
One might expect the load of responsibility to get a bit tiresome. The day VA Linux went public was a day of great celebration at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. But it can’t be a whole lot of fun these days to check into Slashdot — the “news for nerds” Web site that VA Linux owns — and read another couple of hundred slams against the company every time the share price drops another notch.”
“I used Andover myself long before the site hit most investors’ radar screens, and I was floored by the bloated price tag. It’s a great resource, but somehow I couldn’t shake the feeling that VA Linux got hoodwinked by the hoopla. After all, fair’s fair. But, this one looked like highway robbery.
Well, in a curious turn of events Wednesday, VA Linux announced plans to amend the terms of its deal with Andover. In addition to the lucrative stock swap, the original courtship called for $60 million in cold hard cash to be hand-delivered to the blushing bride-to-be. But, faster than a New York minute, all the
leaves have fallen off the money tree; and in this latest market downturn, it’s time for VA Linux to circle the wagons.
The company lopped off the cash payment, and not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Andover graciously accepted. ”
it’s easy to flog targets like va linux and redhat. it’s even easier to flog slashdot since it’s fairly obvious that the quality of the submissions and responses has slid to the mediocre part of scale – even after thresholding out most of the noise [although this point is a bit of a red herring since i think this says more about the readers that slashdot has attracted due to its success rather than anything sinister relating to ipos and censorship]; however, in the end i have to agree with the author’s final point:
“The good news is that Linux players are finding a bottom, and there’s probably never been a better time to buy the leaders. Big fish will continue to gobble up the guppies, and the open source OS has a future so bright, it’s got to wear shades. Pundits are already penning Linux’ last chapter, but I’m betting its best days are ahead. Just a bit more grounded in cyber-reality.”