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Oracle Cutting Java Evangelist Staff

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Oracle shocked the Java world this week by announcing the dismissal of some of their top Java evangelists, in the month prior to their flagship JavaOne conference, and are expected to continue the purge.

Among the dismissals  was Simon Ritter, who came with the Oracle acquisition of Sun Microsystems where he joined in 1996, during the fledgling days of Java. Others included author and Java champion Jim Weaver, also a 15 year Sun veteran, and author and speaker Mark Heckler, who had been at Oracle since 2006.

Cameron Purdy, who launched the concept of distributed caching with the advent of his startup Tangosol in 2000, has also recently left Oracle. Oracle bought Tangosol in 2007 for their Coherence product, and acquired Purdy as part of the merger. Purdy has been a highly sought after speaker at technology conferences thanks to his blend of technical depth and rich humor.

Technical evangelists should not be confused with sales or marketing staff. In fact technology evangelists must undergo some of the most arduous technology exams in the industry, requiring a deep knowledge of algorithms, advanced computer science, and specific language knowledge. The job of the evangelist is to champion to the public the company and technologies they represent by speaking, publishing, and blogging. 

Over the past two years a large portion of Oracle’s evangelism staff has succumbed to attrition, and Oracle shed many big names including Java EE specialist Arun Gupta and JavaFX evangelist Nandini Ramani, who found new homes at technology companies Red Hat and Twitter respectively.

Staying on at Oracle are principal marketing manager Vikki Lira, JCP managers Patrick Curran and Heather van Cura, Java EE/GlassFish/WebLogic evangelist Reza Rahman, and senior director of product management Donald Smith, as well as Sharat Chandar, who has served on and off the Oracle evangelist team over the years.

It is too early to tell where the displaced staff will land. Arun Gupta (@arungupta) tweeted an impassioned plea on behalf of his fallen former-colleagues in which he said "Everybody, @speakjava @MkHeck @JavaFXpert are rock star evangelists and available for hire. Don’t miss this opportunity to grab them!"

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Community comments

  • Some corrections

    by Cameron Purdy,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    First, I think it's appropriate to call it a "lay-off" and not a "purge". There was a lay-off last week, and a number of people affected in the lay-off were (IIRC) previously classified as Java outbound product managers (what we tend to call "Java evangelists"). However, from the number of people I know who were affected by the lay-off, the lay-off was not targeted at this group specifically.

    Second, while their work was still somewhat related to the promotion of Java technology, I believe that some (most? all?) of those named had already been moved to positions focused on promoting the Oracle cloud services, including the Oracle Java Cloud Service (see and look under the "Platform" tab.) Previous to this, they had been part of the Java SE organization.

    My own "dismissal" occurred over a month ago, and was not part of this lay-off. I had voiced some significant differences of opinion with the executive management of the company, and in turn they felt that I should spend more time with my family. I don't think it appropriate to offer additional details on the topic, because despite any substantive disagreements that I voiced, I do not have any ill will toward the company, and do not want to say anything that would undermine the work that I and my team did for the eight years that I was part of Oracle.


    My opinions are my own and may not be the same as .. oh, never mind.

  • Re: Some corrections

    by Victor Grazi,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Thanks for the comments Cameron, we have modified the post accordingly

  • I'm more worried about the future of Java under Oracle's remaining Java leadershhip

    by Dean Schulze,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    These people will have their choice of prestigious jobs depending on what kind of severance agreement they have with Oracle. No-competes are not valid in California so any limits on where they can work next would be something they would have agreed to as part of a severance package.

    My concern is that Oracle's management will not be getting the expert advice they need to properly manage the future of Java. The planned removal of sun.misc.unsafe in Java 9 is a case in point. If Java 9 won't work with the most popular frameworks in the Java ecosystem Oracle will have effectively forked Java. Do the people left at Oracle know how solve the problem they will create if they remove sun.misc.unsafe?

  • Re: I'm more worried about the future of Java under Oracle's remaining Java

    by Ant hony,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Your title is FUD: Oracle has acquired Java 5 years ago already. Since then, Java has made big leaps & there's no reason why it wouldn't continue to do so.

    Your concern is unfounded: first of all, Java does not depend on any specific persons. Second, none of the mentioned people work on Java 9. Third, Java 9 is developed as part of OpenJDK, where anyone can get involved (yes, you too). Fourth, sun.misc.Unsafe will still be accessible in Java 9 & alternatives to sun.misc.Unsafe are in development.

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