As a high performance Linux company, Turbolinux specializes in software clustering solutions and Linux internationalization to deliver out-of-the-box business solutions and Internet infrastructure built on the Linux operating system.
Just a few years back Linux was an obscure OS, coveted by a small community of Internet users. Now it's the fastest growing operating system known to machine. Yet to hear T. Paul Thomas, CEO of Turbolinux, Inc. tell it, Linux's foray into IT infrastructures all over the world is no surprise--nor are the 20 million people he estimates are using Linux.
"Linux, conceived and developed collaboratively on the Internet by the Open Source community, provides the source code free to anyone to download and has propelled Linux's fast fame, Thomas says."
Even so, Linux is just in its infancy, says Thomas, who claims Linux adoption will only escalate, especially in nations whose infrastructures are not fully established. As Thomas summed it up in his keynote at China LinuxWorld Expo 2000, "I travel from country to country and visit with organizations of all shapes and sizes, and I find one recurring theme: a growing excitement toward a globally shared vision of an operating system that epitomizes innovation--a transparent OS that is free from any one company's control, that belongs to us all."
It is this international vision of Linux's destiny that sets Turbolinux apart, says Thomas--a vision that stems back to the company's beginnings.
A focus on internationalization and software clustering solutions
Turbolinux was founded in 1992 to focus on CD-ROM software publishing, says Thomas. This focus led to the building of a new expertise in double byte character support, which allows software to be written in Japanese or in Chinese characters. By 1993 the company was dabbling in Linux and by 1997 Turbolinux changed its mission to focus exclusively on Linux. Yet the company's early work in language support spelled the difference, says Thomas. "Because in 1997, Turbolinux became the world's first Japanese language Linux operating system with full double byte character support."
Another key advantage that sets Turbolinux apart is its high-end clustering capabilities, says Thomas, "Our clustering products let customers tie their servers together for clustering and load balancing--to achieve the highest performance and non-stop service."
In late 1999, the Turbolinux team decided to raise some additional funding says Thomas. Since Intel Capital had made a prior investment in Turbolinux in the Fall of 1999, the team went back to Intel Capital to see if they wanted to invest in a second round.
In ensuing investment discussions, Thomas says that Intel Capital shared Intel� Itanium� processor technology and strategy. "They started out by showing us where the market segment is today, where it's going and why they thought that Itanium architecture is the future. Once they did that, we became converts--we saw where Linux and the Itanium architecture worked well together," says Thomas.
From the prior investment with Turbolinux, Intel Capital knew that Turbolinux was a key Linux player in the Japanese market, and had a promising strategy in server clustering. In this second round of financing, Intel Capital wanted to assist Turbolinux in their port to the Itanium platform, and with their high-end server clustering solutions. After a due diligence investigation, Intel Capital invested in Turbolinux for a second time in January 2000 and subsequently, a third round announced in October 2000.
A Supportive Collaborative Relationship
Today, Turbolinux offers a complete suite of high-performance Linux products that span the workstation to high-end server market segments, says Thomas, and it remains a leading Linux distributor in Japan and the Asia Pacific region. In addition, the company has expanded into all of North America, Latin America, Europe and Australia.
Probably the biggest benefit of Intel Capital's second investment is the support it has provided Turbolinux in porting to the Itanium architecture, says Thomas. "We are the first company to complete a Linux distribution for the Itanium processor which we released in March. This is great, because as the Internet and e-commerce become an even bigger deal, we'll need faster, more compute-intensive processing and bigger and better servers. The Itanium architecture enables us to run more processors and get more speed. All this really capitalizes on Linux," says Thomas.
The Intel Capital team has also been very supportive throughout the investment relationship, adds Thomas. "They seem to want to help us in anyway they can. So we have account managers who focus on us. We have access to Intel resources, whether they are people, machines, or technology labs. And we have access to Intel's technology, where we collaborate with Intel."
Thomas claims that overall, the Intel Capital investment has been a great fit for both companies. "At end of day, we're a Linux software company, and unless we have a hardware alliance, we can't go anywhere. Intel is the best alliance for us in this regard, since they represent all aspects of the hardware world."
For Intel, the investment in Turbolinux is also beneficial in ways that go beyond the monetary return, claims Thomas, "Since we were the first company to port Linux to the Itanium platform, we have become a leading worldwide Linux reference platform for hardware and software vendors. The fact that we're the first port gives Intel a Linux operating system to point to, which is our TurboOS. Other companies can use it for their own Linux Itanium development. From a Linux perspective, this gives Intel entry into a wide range of Linux companies and market segments with its new technology."
"I get the sincere sense that Intel Capital really cares about our business. Of all our investors they seem to really want us to do well, and will do everything they can to help us do well. Yet it's not so much because they're worried about the money they've invested. I sense that Intel only invests in things they really truly believe in that they can support. Then they'll do all they can to help you win and succeed."
AT A GLANCE...
Turbolinux, Inc. CEO
T. Paul Thomas
San Francisco, CA
For more information, contact Turbolinux, Inc., .
Last updated: January 2001
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