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AOL-TW Purchase of Red Hat Linux Update:

AOL Denies It! Alan Cox Tells AOL to Shove It!


Mike Angelo -- 23 January 2002 (c)


In What AOL-TW Gets and Does Not Get in a Red Hat Acquisition MozillaQuest's Mike Angelo analyzes the impact if AOL were to buy Red Hat Linux. Synopsis: AOL success has been in media and marketing - not in computer technology and software development. The prize AOL-TW seeks in Red Hat is not the Linux operating system (OS). Either AOL-Time-Warner investors don't realize Red Hat doesn't own the Linux OS or AOL is after something else in its attempts to acquire Red Hat Linux. Four things AOL cannot get by acquiring Red Hat are the Linux OS, the Linux community and infrastructure, the Red Hat people, and the Red Hat Linux users. But owning Red Hat Linux lets AOL make Netscape and its portal packages the default or exclusive browser-suite and portal packages for Red Hat Linux. Forcing the Netscape portal packages on to the Red Hat desktop is the real prize AOL seeks. Read full story on MozillaQuest Magazine (MozillaQuest.com)

On 19 January 2002, The Washington Post ran a story, AOL in Negotiations to Buy Red Hat, by Alec Klein. In part The Washington Post story states: AOL Time Warner Inc. is in talks to buy Red Hat Inc.

However, a C|NET story dated 22 January by Joe Wilcox, AOL denies bidding for Red Hat, reports a statement from AOL-Time-Warner spokesperson Andrew Weinstein denying The Washington Post story, "The Washington Post story is incorrect," . . .. "AOL is not in negotiations with Red Hat."

On 19 January in reply to our questions about The Washington Post's story, Red Hat spokespeople Lorien Golaski and Melissa London told MozillaQuest Magazine they would not comment on rumor or speculation. In response to our inquires made after the 22 January C|NET story, Lorien Golaski said Red Hat's policy continues to be that we do not comment on rumors and speculation.

Putting that all together, there still could be some fire under all that smoke. Here's why.

Even though, The Washington Post does not identify its sources, The Washington Post is a very creditable and well-respected newspaper. It ran a story saying AOL Time Warner Inc. is in talks to buy Red Hat Inc on 19 January.

On the other hand AOL's Andrew Weinstein claims in a statement made to C|NET that AOL is not in negotiations with Red Hat. However, there is wiggle-room in that wording.

So, whom do you believe? Do you believe the claims of AOL's public relations person? Or, do you believe the claims of un-identified sources? Weighing the wiggle-room in Weinstein's statement to C|NET verses the creditability of The Washington Post, it's a tough call, but there is a call to be made.

Often, you have to take something a PR person tells you with at least a few grains of salt. Could there have been negotiations of which Weinstein is unaware? Could those negotiations have been between people representing AOL or Red Hat rather than AOL or Red Hat people?

Who are the un-identified sources upon whom The Washington Post based its story? Are those sources people who might be privy to AOL or Red Hat negotiations to which Weinstein is not privy?

Now that AOL's Weinstein has denied the alleged negotiations to buy Red Hat, why does Red Hat not join in that denial? Could it be there is some fire under all the smoke?

We tried to clear the smoke in some questions we asked AOL's Andrew Weinstein. These questions are designed to reduce if not eliminate the wiggle-room.

Have there been negotiations or discussions between AOL-TW and/or Netscape and/or any person, persons, and/or organization representing and/or acting on behalf of AOL-TW and/or Netscape regarding a purchase of Red Hat in whole or in part with Red Hat and/or any person, persons, and/or organization representing and/or acting on behalf of Red Hat?

Are there current negotiations or discussions between AOL-TW and/or Netscape and/or any person, persons, and/or organization representing and/or acting on behalf of AOL-TW and/or Netscape regarding a purchase of Red Hat in whole or in part with Red Hat and/or any person, persons, and/or organization representing and/or acting on behalf of Red Hat?

AOL's Weinstein has failed to answer those questions. Unlike Red Hat's spokespeople, Weinstein is commenting on The Washington Post story. So what is Weinstein trying to hide by failing to answer these questions?

MozillaQuest Magazine policy is to deem unanswered questions as admissions of the matters they address. Therefore, we take the matters addressed in the above question to be admitted by AOL. That means there might be some fire under all the smoke. The real questions here boil down to who talked to whom, what did they talk about, and when did they do it?

Until such time as Weinstein answers the above two questions posed to him in the negative, we will consider his statement(s) to C|NET to be something less than the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

On the other hand, however, in all fairness until such time as The Washington Post story sources reveal their identities we are constrained to consider The Washington Post story as unconfirmed allegation.

If you find yourself confused, you are not alone. This mess has us confused too. And so far the PR games being played by both AOL and Red Hat are adding to the confusion rather than reducing it.

We believe that Red Hat's refusal to comment on stories based on information from un-identified sources was fair and honest, although not informative. However, now that AOL's Weinstein is denying acquisition negotiations between AOL and Red Hat, the Red Hat people should either affirm or deny the claims made in The Washington Post story. It is the right thing to do.

Red Hat's Alan Cox tells AOL to Shove It

In our 21 January coverage of the AOL and Red Hat negotiations, What AOL-TW Gets and Does Not Get in a Red Hat Acquisition, we observed:

Should AOL acquire Red Hat . . . do not be surprised if many of the people now at Red Hat leave AOL Red Hat. So far that makes three things AOL cannot buy by acquiring Red Hat, the Linux OS, the Linux community, and the Red Hat people.

In a related matter, Red Hat's Alan Cox indirectly told AOL to shove it. Alan Cox is about as well known to the Linux community as is Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux.

In a 21 January post to the Linux Kernel Development Archive regarding the AOL negotiations to buy Red Hat, Alan Cox wrote:

Well I've no idea on the rumours (sic) (and if I did I wouldn't (sic) tell you!) but Im (sic) insulted that anyone believes I would continue working for RH if aol/time warner (sic) owned them.

Conclusion

The AOL and Red Hat soap opera is not over yet folks. Stay tuned.


Resources


Alan Cox Post to Linux Kernel Development Archive


Related Articles


AOL in Negotiations to Buy Red Hat (The Washington Post)

AOL denies bidding for Red Hat (C|NET)

What AOL-TW Gets and Does Not Get in a Red Hat Acquisition


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Copyright 2000-2002 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved


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