[Seattle Times] Crossgain Founders Look to Share Turf with .NET

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From: Adam Rifkin (Adam@KnowNow.Com)
Date: Tue Sep 12 2000 - 22:00:16 PDT

[They stole a couple dozen folks from Microsoft and still want a
complementary relationship? Geez, man, times really have changed...]


Business : Monday, September 11, 2000

Crossgain founders look to share turf with .NET
by Paul Andrews, Seattle Times Silicon Valley bureau

At first glance, Crossgain looks like yet another Internet start-up with
Microsoft bloodlines.

Two high-profile Microsoft managers, Adam Bosworth and Tod Neilsen, head
the 45-employee Redmond-based software-services enterprise. They have lured
a couple of dozen colleagues from the software giant since the beginning of
the year.
In another familiar twist, the new company unites former "browser war" foes
in the cause of the New Economy. Crossgain plans to announce today funding
totaling $10 million from Benchmark Capital, the high-profile venture
capital organization in Menlo Park, Calif., and The Barksdale Group, headed
by former Netscape Communications chief James Barksdale.

Nothing new so far. What gives the Crossgain story some grit, however, is
the company's potential role as a competitor to Microsoft. Where other
Microsoft spinoffs tend to focus on niche or cutting-edge arenas where
Microsoft has little presence, Crossgain's business plan could strike at
the heart of Microsoft's new .NET strategy.

Both the Redmond superpower and the tiny spinoff want to provide software
services based on xml, an Internet standard, to automate database and Web
use for businesses and corporations. While it is unclear where revenues
will come from, Crossgain and Microsoft could wind up vying for the same
Internet dollar.

Bosworth and Nielsen, moreover, helped build .NET while still at Microsoft.
Nielsen's role at Crossgain - inspiring the programming community to back
Crossgain's technology - parallels his job at Microsoft.

"They're certainly drawing on their Microsoft DNA to build this new
venture," noted venture capitalist Curtis Feeny, who heads the Silicon
Valley offices of Voyager Capital, headquartered in Seattle. Throughout the
PC's short history, companies have required new hires to sign noncompete
clauses stipulating they will not jump ship to a competitor. To avoid
conflicts, departing executives often work in areas having nothing to do
with their former focus.The fast-track Internet start-up scene, however,
has altered previous practice. The sheer number of start-ups and
job-hopping executives have made it difficult to track potential conflicts.
The lightning pace of Web development also makes crossover hard to predict.

For now, everything seems cozy between Crossgain and Microsoft. Nielsen,
who admits he was closely queried about his plans when he left Microsoft,
went so far as to cut a deal with his former employer. Any Microsoft
employee seeking a job with Crossgain must first report to his supervisor
that he is exploring "outside opportunities."

"I want to have as complementary a relationship as I can with my former
employer," said Nielsen, who in 12 years at Microsoft rose through the
ranks to head developer relations and become a golfing buddy of Chairman
Bill Gates. Nielsen is Crossgain's CEO, while Bosworth, serves as chairman
and chief technology officer.

Nielsen emphasized that Crossgain has no "chip on its shoulder" for
Microsoft. Instead, he said Crossgain will provide technology and clients
that enhance Microsoft's .NET initiative.

"Microsoft today has nothing in this space," Nielsen said.

Potential competition to Microsoft was "one of the things we looked at most
closely" in deciding whether to fund Crossgain, said Barksdale. Because
Crossgain will work with Linux and Java, "they are really more of an
open-systems approach than Microsoft can offer through Windows," Barksdale

While the spinoff seems "supportive and complementary" to .NET, "certainly
things could change in the future," he said.
Crossgain's first products will be shipped by early next year.


When at Demboin Monastery, Baso used to sit cross-legged all day, meditating. His master, Nangaku Yejo saw him and asked: "What are you doing sitting cross-legged?" "My desire is to become Buddha," Baso replied. Thereupon the master took up a piece of brick and began to polish it hard on the stone near by. "What are you doing polishing that brick, master?", asked Baso. "I am trying to turn it into a mirror". "No amount of polishing will make a mirror of that brick, master." "If so, no amount of sitting cross-legged will make you a Buddha." "What shall I do then?" "It is like driving a cart, when it won't move, will you whip the cart or the ox?" Baso made no answer. -- http://www.flcpa.org/youth/randy_komisar.html

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