Micro Focus International acquires Borland Software. The acquisition has been in the works since May and today the deal was finalized. The Acquisition by Micro Focus, when combined with the Application Testing / Automated Software Quality ("ASQ") business acquired from Compuware Corporation ("Compuware") on 1 June 2009, gives Micro Focus a leading position in that market.
The once legendary software company is no more! Okay, for those of us that worked at Borland and those that loved their development tools, it pretty much was over a few years ago. Perhaps history will say the decline started with Philipe Kahn left. For me, I'm still a big fan of the CodeGear development tools, especially Delphi and Prism. Go Embarcadero!!!
I've been following Borland ever since I left the company in 1995 and every time I heard of a stupid move, I cringed. I'm sure all of us who have watched the decline of Borland over the years have a list of stupid Borland moves. I'm sure industry movement played a part in the decline of Borland but Borland made some mistakes too. Here are the four big ones in my mind that represent the type of indecision and lack of clarity the company had after Philippe Khan left:
Changing the name to Inprise then back to Borland.
Spinning Interbase off as it's own company, then bringing it back.
Turning Interbase into OpenSource, then back.
Moving from a focus on development tools to lifecylce management.
Every company makes mistakes and it's easy to criticize in hindsight, but the reality is a lot of us recognized these and other mistakes as they were made and Borland had too many big ones after Philippe Khan left. Embarcadero appears to be a better fit for the CodeGear tools for several reasons including the fact that their CEO Wayne D. Williams was a programmer just like Philippe Khan and Bill Gates. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think having an ex-coder in a leadership position like CEO is important for a development tool company.
Borland History...b. 1983, d. 2009
Borland was formed as a company in Scotts Valley, CA in 1983 by Philippe Kahn primarily around his Turbo Pascal product. The company was among the most prominent of the microcomputer software companies in the 1980's and 90's producing a wide range of consumer software for DOS and Windows.
The following Borland history highlights are taken from news articles but the majority is from ComputerHistory.org:
1983 - Formed as a company in Scotts Valley, CA.
1983 - Turbo Pascal released.
1984 - Sidekick released.
1987 - Borland buys ANSA Software, maker of the Paradox database.
1987 - Quattro spreadsheet product released.
1987 - Turbo BASIC and Turbo C released.
1989 - Initial public offering.
1990 - Paradox Engine ships, a C library which opens up the architecture for Paradox tables.
1990 - Turbo C++ ships.
1991 - Philippe Kahn named CEO of the year (Financial World) and Man of the Year (PC Magazine).
1991 - Borland buys Ashton-Tate.
1991 - Borland C++ ships.
1991 - Turbo Pascal for Windows ships.
1991 - Borland ships three object-oriented software tools: Turbo C++ for Windows 3.0, Borland C++ 3.0, and Borland C++ & Application Frameworks 3.0.
1992 - dBASE IV 1.5 ships.
1992 - ObjectVision 2.0 ships.
1992 - Borland acquires BRIEF (most popular source code editor) and Sourcerer's Apprentice (version control).
1993 - Paradox for Windows ships and outsells all other databases.
1994 - Interbase 4.0 ships.
1995 - Delphi 1.0 ships.
1997 - JBuilder ships.
2002 - Borland Acquires Boldsoft, VMGear and Highlander.
2002 - Borland completed a merger with Starbase and Galaxy Acquisition Corp.
2003 - Borland acquires TogetherSoft.
April 2007 - Borland moves to Texas. CodeGear stays behind.
May 2008 - Embarcadero acquires CodeGear: Delphi, C++Builder, JBuilder, Interbase, etc.
July 2009 - Micro Focus International completes acquisition of Borland. Borland is no more.
Where are they now?
Philippe Kahn's new company Fullpower Technologies is located in Santa Cruz, CA and provides sensor-based solutions supporting sensors and networks of sensors. In particular, key supported sensors are motion, imaging, proximity, light, and GPS.
Paradox and Quattro Pro, the best of the desktop applications, ended up at Corel who continues to sell and market them. However, development of the two products has slowed but at least the products are still around. Neither Paradox nor Quattro Pro appear on Corel's full list of products. It seems as if Corel is ashamed of their inability to meet the best-of-breed quality produced by Borland. They are both bundled with WordPerfect Office Suite which is how most new users are introduced to them these days.
The development tools including Delphi, Prism, C++Builder, JBuilder, and Interbase were spun off as CodeGear and sold to Embarcadero. Although here at Prestwood Software we do a bit more C# and VB.Net coding these days, we still do as much coding in Delphi and Prism as possible. Although a much smaller crew, the spirit of the once best-of-breed Borland is now at Embarcadero and still alive and well including the longtime developer evangelist David Intersimone "David I" who maintains his famous Sip from the Firehose articles in his Embarcadero blog. In fact, there are about 80 staff at the old Scotts Valley campus continuing the innovative development efforts started by Philippe Kahn, but now for Embarcadero.
Yahoo Borland Alumni Group Here's a link to the Borland Alumni group on Yahoo. Although I don't post that frequently, it's fun to read what other alumni are saying and seeing all the names float by is a blast too.
Thanks, Mike, for the trip down memory lane. Borland is dead. Long-live CodeGear!
I have to agree with every point on your list of dumb moves. If I had to add one, it would be the departure of Philippe Kahn. I don't know what fomented that, but, with his departure, it felt like a lot of the Borland "vision" was lost.
Kahn was one bold guy. Who'd have thought to take a world class compiler (Turbo Pascal) and sell it for $99? I think that single move put Borland on the radar. Then to follow with Turbo C at the same price point? Brilliant.
Sure, eventually products like Delphi, had to cost real money, but up through at least Delphi 7, you got your money's worth. And it's looking like CodeGear is returning to value pricing - as opposed to Borland's outrageous price for Delphi 2005.
The BDE was a great idea for its time, too; quite innovative. Sure, it seems dated these days, but it certainly worked, allowed developers to choose from among databases while using "closer to the metal" tools (Delphi, C++), and inspired some pretty amazing "BDE Replacement" databases that remain relevant today.
I'm not sure who owns the rights to future development of the BDE. My guess is those rights went to Embarcadero with the CodeGear acquisition. When I find out, I'll post it here.
As for future development of the BDE, it's doubtfull that will happen but you never know!! CodeGear/Embarcadero support the BDE with their latest tools. For exmaple, Delphi 2009 does ship with the BDE bound components (TQuery/TTable).
>>How do you think this move will impact the CodeGear products...
In a strange way, I think the demise of the Borland name will actually help Embarcadero with the CodeGear tools. With Borland gone, now us hard-core CodeGear developers can focus exclusively on Embarcadero and the specific tools like Delphi, C++Builder, JBuilder, and Interbase. Even though those tools went to Embarcadero a year ago, I was keeping a legacy foot in the Borland door visiting their website now and then and trying to keep up. I have no such plans with Micro Focus and I suspect others will do the same. I do plan on keeping up with Embarcadero! For me, Embarcadero is the new Borland.
In my mind, the saddest part of the Borland story is the rise and fall of Paradox. In the mid nineties, I was involved with a team at a large midwestern corporation that evaluated two database programs: Paradox for Windows and MS Access. Paradox won hands down. Once this product made its way to Corel, it has sat idle on the shelf. I still use Paradox, but it is getting harder. It would be nice if Corel would sell Paradox to someone who was willing to put forth a little effort into the software.
It seems that technical excellence and commercial accumen rarely get together. Is this because the commercially savvy don't know a good product or that the technical brilliant are sure people will buy on quality alone or don't understand the market?
We have (ironically) 2 technically excellent software products languishing with Corel, Paradox and WordPerfect displaced in the market by Access and Word due to commercial errors by their founders. Wordperfect 5.1 for DOS has still to be one of the best wordprocessors built because its designers understood documents unlike the creators of Word. Similarly with Paradox and access (though Access is a much better product than Word).
We saw it in the video player market with betamax and VHS. I'm sure many more examples.
One question, from the breakup of Borland, who has ended up being the guardian (and possibly developer ?) of IDAPI? Are they developing it or just allowing it to slip quietly into oblivion?
I still struggle on with my (fairly simple) Paradox databases but am facing more and more issues as the programme becomes more and more out of phase with the latest operating and hardware systems.
You had some greatly insightful questions about technology and marketing. I will not speculate on them but they are interesting to think about.
Regarding Idapi, Odapi became Idapi which later became the BDE. The BDE was last developed May 2001 (last release). My guess is that future rights to develop on the BDE went with CodeGear to Embarcadero but I haven't found out yet for sure. Delphi 2009 does ship with BDE bound components (TTable and TQuery).