Surprise Desktop Linux Move: Xandros Buys Linspire

In what seems like a battle of ants in a case full of lions, Practical Technology has learned that Xandros has bought Linspire. “In an announcement that was sent out today, June 30, to Linspire stockholders, CEO Larry Kettler wrote that the stockholders had decided to sell all of Linspire’s assets. This deal specifically includes Linspire, Freespire, and the company’s distribution agnostic CNR (Click ‘N Run) desktop installation platform.” Not everyone is very happy with this one, though.

Kevin Carmony, the former CEO of Linspire, is quite direct about the news on his blog.

In classic Michael Robertson [Linspire’s founder and chief owner] form, he has once again completely disregarded the 100 some-odd shareholders of Linspire by pulling off this deal without a shareholder meeting. Most states require shareholder approval of any merger or reorganization of a corporation, or the sale or transfer of all or substantially all of the corporation’s assets. Even if a company only has 1 minority shareholder, there should be a shareholder meeting and the acquisition explained to all shareholders. What do Linspire shareholders get in place of a shareholder meeting? This completely worthless notice in the mail.

This will end up being a completely insignificant event for Linspire shareholders, and the end for Linspire customers. I predict this was done to: 1) help Robertson drain the company of its cash and resources. When I left Linspire, we had a very profitable year and the company had millions in the bank. I predict Robertson has moved this money to himself, family, and his other companies, leaving Linspire’s minority shareholders with nothing. 2) help Robertson save face by issuing a “Linspire Acquired by Xandros!” press release, instead of living with the public humiliation that Linspire failed under his leadership. Such a press release will of course be meaningless, unless the acquisition was substantial. As a shareholder, I will eventually find out. 3) Give Xandros (also seemingly on life support) a press release, and perhaps some way for them to spin this to investors to raise money.

To me, I’m not really sure if I really even care – in fact, I’d be surprised to see many of you care at all. Xandros and Linspire seem to have added little to the Linux desktop world in the end, and while both of them had a few strong points, they were in the end eclipsed by Ubuntu, Fedora, and OpenSUSE. While Xandros may have made some good press by coming pre-installed on Asus’ EeePC, it didn’t give them a truly massive boost in revenue stream. “The company is not making money hand over fist it has been realizing “a very nice revenue stream from its Asus systems”.”

All I have to say: feel free to wow me.


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