JBoss, Inc. Considered Toxic?

In a move either personal or political, The Middleware Company, parent of has terminated their relationship with JBoss.

This decision is, in many ways, symbolic of the damaged relationship between JBoss and the Java community. Many users or potential users of JBoss will take a step back and reconsider that decision, not questioning the merits of the application server, but questioning the integrity of the company. Marc Fleury has always been a colorful character, but with more of a reputation of keeping things interesting.

Now, the JBoss name is tarnished rather than textured. Before, it was a curiosity. Now, it is a pariah. Do you want a business relationship with a company that will not apologize, not even admit wrongdoing, but just say that they won’t do it in the future (not that they necessarily did it in the past). With their current hiring push, how many talented developers and staff will shy away, fearing that the JBoss name could hurt their future job prospects or harm their reputation? I’m not suggesting that all, or even most will… but it’s enough to matter.

At the foundation, JBoss has been a novel piece of software, and one that has succeeded both through colorful PR and through word of mouth. The latter depends on the community, and this blunder may have just sucked the energy out of their raving fans. $10 million in investment cash is nice, but happenings like this will certainly erode the value of the IPO they have their eye on, and it certainly isn’t enough to try and replace that flattened community buzz they had with marketing efforts to take IBM and BEA head on. Can they recover? Quite probably. But any bump they got from astroturfing can’t possibly make up for the credibility gap they’ve earned.