Scott McNealy's Sun Microsystems created Java, and its servers help make the Internet run. This CEO looks beyond current market turmoil to what's perking in Internet technology.


Like most technology companies these days, Sun Microsystems is still reeling from the bursting of the dot-com bubble. But chairman and CEO Scott McNealy sees past the current cutbacks in tech spending to a near future where the Web has changed companies from within, and access to the Internet is as ubiquitous as the water faucet.

As the world's second-largest provider of the servers that are linchpins of the Web, and crea-tor of the widely used Java computer language, Sun's future depends heavily on the Internet. McNealy says the "fast and crazy" downturn is just a temporary obstacle. The new Net-powered world has just begun.

McNealy, 47, co-founded Sun in 1982 and was appointed CEO two years later - a supposed temporary move, because McNealy knew little about computers. But he showed himself as a formidable manager, and eventually became the de facto leader of an entire industry based on "open" alternatives to the proprietary software espoused by Microsoft
and others.

American Way asked McNealy to look past current conditions and shed some sunlight on the next direction of technology.

American Way: We've recently seen a severe pullback in technology spending in the U.S. What will turn around the slump?
McNealy:
Once people started to recognize the potential of the Internet, the run-up was only natural. We could see the Net had the power to change the way we communicate, work, play, learn - and it has. Unfortunately, some of the business models people came up with were not sustainable. So the old idea of dot-coms - two guys in a garage with $10 million in venture capital and no business plan - is over. Meanwhile, the idea of "dot-comming" - Fortune 1000 companies leveraging the Internet to digitize and automate their businesses - is just beginning.

It's not about selling perfume online. It's about using the Net to improve operations inside and outside your company - all through the value chain - and the world is still in the early stages of that process.