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What VMware's Maritz Did Not Say

LAS VEGAS, Sept. 16 -- Hola from Las Vegas! Executive Editor Tom Valovic, Editor-in-Chief Doug Barney and I are covering everything VMworld this week.

Paul Maritz' keynote this morning wasn't anything we didn't report on before. He basically reiterated all the points VMware released yesterday, which reporters were briefed on last week. What I found more interesting was what he didn't say.

VMware is facing crises from all sides, both inside and out; from Microsoft, from Citrix, Virtual Iron, Red Hat, Sun, HP and all the rest. Stock prices have gone from the mountiantop to the ocean floor in just a few months. Top-level execs are leaving at an alarming rate. Everybody even vaguely familiar with this industry knows these issues.

Yet Maritz completely ignored them. Not a single mention of Microsoft. He alluded to Redmond a couple of times -- once to poke fun at the Seinfeld-Bill Gates commercials. He didn't attempt to compare VMware offerings with their Microsoft counterparts. He didn't mention the financial struggles or executive exodus. He didn't reassure attendees that "hey, we're going through a tough time, but we'll get though it, and come out even stronger on the other side." No real rah-rah cheerleading.

This was obviously a choice. And I can understand the thought behind it. "Let's focus on who, and what, we are." Mentioning those challenges will just remind folks of their problems, when this is supposed to be a big, week-long party (in that way, it's similar to the Democratic and Republican conventions). It seems to me it might have been wiser, however, to attack the doubters and naysayers head-on; to take a strong stance and say how VMware's superior products will crush the upstart competitors.

In all, I found the keynote to be extremely bland. I can't recall one memorable line. Maritz could have juiced the crowd up, or at least have said some provocative things. He did none of that. He could have tried to go for it on fourth down. Instead, he played it safe and punted.

What do you think? Agree or disagree on Maritz' keynote? Let me know.

Posted by Keith Ward on 09/16/2008 at 12:48 PM


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