And what does the Google-Deal mean for VA Smalltalk customers?


You’ve just read it: Instantiations’ Java-Business got bought by Google.
This immediately brings up the question what all that means for VA Smalltalk users.

Let me start by saying that I’m glad this acquisition is very different from what happened when Twitter bought Avi’s company DabbleDB. Twitter simply kept the raisins and threw DabbleDB into a corner.

Fortunately, VA Smalltalk is NOT going in that direction. I am glad VA Smalltalk is not going to be some dusty remainder in some old cabinet somewhere in the old offices, just like it has been at IBM for many years.

Instantiations is not going away. The management team will build up a new company called Instantiations which is be a “pure Smalltalk” shop. Here’s what their new website looks like:

The new Instantiations will be fully focussed on VA Smalltalk. It will be the only Smalltalk vendor on the market that exclusively sells Smalltalk tools and has a significant share of the Smalltalk market (It is still estimated that VA Smalltalk has the largest user base of all Smalltalk platforms available). Neither Cincom nor Gemstone are concentrating on Smalltalk exclusively.

Instantiations is now fully dedicated to Smalltalk.

Imagine you’ve just sold some part of your very successful company to Google.

Would you rather
a) enjoy the fruits of the deal on a nice tropical island or in the Rockies,
or would you
b) keep a part of the business and continue running it?

Well, if you liked what you do, you’d probably choose alternative b), right?

Thats what the Instantiations managment team is doing. If they wouldn’t believe in the VA Smalltalk business, they’d run away and laugh their a..es off about that stupid Google management who just gave them a few millions for a worthless product, right?
That’s not happening.

Instantiations has been very successful in getting former IBM VisualAge Smalltalk customers over to Instantiations. Over the last few years, they always reported growth in their Smalltalk business (last time they spoke about it at this year’s VA Smalltalk Forum Europe (download as pdf or video). Most of that growth came from former IBM customers who decided to buy a newer version of VA Smalltalk, but there have also been some new customers. As a reseller, we’ve sold some licences to shops that were completely new to Smalltalk.And as far as I can tell from our customer base, most users are very happy and renew their support every year. Most of them have long-term plans with VA Smalltalk.

They also stated that VA Smalltalk is a profitable product, so it’s never been cross-financed by the Java products at Instantiations. Very obviously, all of this makes them confident that a Smalltalk-only shop can be profitable all by itself.

Combine that with the (hopefully not so) little suitcase stuffed with dollar notes they received from Google for their Java Business and you can imagine where they start from.

Here’s an excerpt of a mail that Instantiations sent out to all current VA Smalltalk users:

In the short run you will see little change in our Smalltalk activities. The same people will be in place doing the same good work; our offices in Raleigh and Portland will continue to function at full capacity; support and product development will proceed without interruption, and we are looking forward to our upcoming release of VA Smalltalk 8.0.3. We will continue to support the community by hosting and sponsoring events like our recent VA Smalltalk Forum Europe, Camp Smalltalk in London, ESUG and Smalltalk Solutions 2011.

So what will change?

Not much. Existing licenses and support renewals will stay in effect and you can buy new licenses of VA Smalltalk at any time (just contact us for details and prices in Euros). You’ll be talking to the same people in support and development as before and as far as I know there are no planned changes in pricing or support policy. [Update: as you can see here]

The only thing that will change is that the product is now offered by a company that’s 100% committed to the product, since it is the only product they have. Sounds good? I agree.

So what about objektfabrik?

Mike Taylor and Chuck Shawan contacted me and made it very clear that they’re interested in continuing our long-standing cooperation and work on making the Smalltalk market an even better place than it is today. So we’ll be your no. 1 stop for all questions around VA Smalltalk in Germany and neighboring countries. With over one and a half decades of project experience in Smalltalk and with our growing network of Smalltalk experts, we’ll be an excellent address for all your questions and needs around Smalltalk in general and VA Smalltalk in particular.

I look forward to working with the guys at Instantiations on improving VA Smalltalk and  helping customers in writing maintainable, dynamic software for many years.

If you have any questions about the deal and its consequences, feel free to contact me. I do not (yet) know much about it, but I am sure I will find out.

So let’s wish the new Instantiations good luck on the Smalltalk market and ourselves many exciting news on VA Smalltalk’s progress in terms of the tool itself as well as its market share.

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