A Timeline of VA Linux: Through The Years

Following is an year-wise chronicle to be accompanied with an article on VA Linux’s history on It’s FOSS.

Image for post
Image for post

Chronicle Logs for 1993, 1998–2007 & 2009–2015

1993: The Beginning

VA Research enters the Linux-based Hardware industry in November with co-founders Larry Augustin and James Vera, VA being the initials for Vera and Augustin.

Note: Another co-founder named John Hall helped lead the company from its start-up phase to its IPO, probably after it changed its name to VA Linux Systems in 1999.

1998: Emerging Growth

VA Research sells under $100 million in workstations and servers and is reported as the largest vendor of pre-installed Linux computers with a 10% profit margin having approximately 20% of the Linux hardware market.

The company raises $5.4 million from Intel and Sequoia Capital in October.

Company sales for fiscal 1998: $5.5 million.

1999: Acquisitions and New Innovations

On March 2, Intel Corporation and VA Research Linux Systems announce that they have signed an agreement for VA Research to port the Linux operating system to Intel’s IA-64 architecture.

In March and April, VA Research purchases Enlightenment Solutions, marketing company Electric Lichen L.L.C., and their top competitor, Linux Hardware Solutions.

A new Linux Labs division is created in May, hiring former linux.com domain holder and programmer Fred van Kempen, and Linux Gurus Jon “Mad Dog” Hall, Geoff “Mandrake” Harrison, Jeremy Allison, Richard Morrell (who later created a firewall GUI called Smoothwall as a VA Linux project) and San “NeTTwerk” Mehat.

VA Research wins a business-plan competition for the right to operate the linux.com domain (now owned by The Linux Foundation).

They raise another $25 million from SGI, Intel, Sequoia Capital, and others in June.

SourceForge releases to the public at Comdex on November 17, designed and developed in summer the same year by programmers Tony Guntharp, Uriah Welcome, Tim Perdue and Drew Streib.

The company changes its name to VA Linux Systems.

On December 9, they become a public company with the stock symbol LNUX via an IPO and raises $132 million. They initially offered shares at $30/share, but the shares opened for trading at $299/share, before closing at $239.25/share, which means 697% above the IPO price, breaking a record (606% opening-day surge by theglobe.com in November 1998) for the largest first-day gain.

Company’s sales grow to $17.7 million. Larry Augustin, the 38-year old founder and CEO of the company, becomes a billionaire on paper.

2000: A New Subsidiary

On February 3, VA Linux announces acquiring Andover.net for $800 million with popular online media properties such as Slashdot, Andover News Network, Freshmeat and NewsForge shifting its business model from Linux-based product sales to specialty media and software development support.

In September, VA Linux partners with Sumitomo Corporation and creates a Japanese subsidiary named, VA Linux Systems Japan K.K., to promote Linux systems in Japan.

Company sales rise 579% to $120.3 million in fiscal 2000 from $17.7 million in fiscal 1999.

After the bursting of the dot-com bubble, company shares are traded at $8.49/share.

2001: Transition from Hardware to Software

Stiff competition from other hardware vendors such as Dell who now offered Linux as a pre-installed operating system.

On June 26, VA Linux drops its systems-hardware business to focus on a new business model: software development, thereby dismissing all 153 of the employees working in the hardware division.

Following the new business model, the company formally changes its name to VA Software on December 6. Its Japanese subsidiary, however, still continues to be known as “VA Linux Systems Japan K.K.

In January 2001, the stock traded at $7.13/share.

2002: Stocks Tumble

Next year, the company’s stock drops down drastically by 42% on January 2 because of slower-than-expected sales growth from new customers in the dot-com sector.

2003: Proprietary Offshore Outsourcing

In December, VA Software announces a proprietary SourceForge Enterprise Edition, re-written in Java for offshore outsourcing.

2004: SourceForge and OSDN

By April, the company focuses on SourceForge, an online software application, and OSDN, a group of websites related to IT and software development, which was renamed to Open Source Technology Group.

By this time, VA Software stocks trade at $1.94/share.

2005: VA Linux continues to thrive in Japan

VA Linux Systems Japan K.K. (VA Linux), leading provider of Linux solutions for the telecommunications and enterprise systems markets, Tokyo, announces on June 20, its newly introduced FlexWebmail, a high-performance Webmail server, and FlexControl, a Web interface for user/mail account control, as a part of the VA FMS (FlexMessaging Solution), a total messaging solution.

On October 31, Clara Online, Inc. adopts VA Balance, VA Linux Systems Japan K.K.’s load balancer and high-availability service solution, for Clara Online’s dedicated server service for Linux.

VA Linux Systems Japan K.K. announces the release of SMTPGuard on November 8, an Open Source, anti-SPAM software for MTAs, which can flexibly eliminate unsolicited e-mails (SPAM) as a part of ‘VA FMS’.

2006: Animation Factory no longer VA’s

Jupitermedia Corporation acquires VA-owned Animation Factory in January.

2007: SourceForge Developments

Another acquisition happens on April 24, with CollabNet acquiring VA-owned proprietary SourceForge Enterprise Edition.

VA Software gets renamed again to SourceForge Inc. and merges with Open Source Technology Group (OSTG).

2009: Geeknet

Scott Kauffman gets appointed as President and CEO of SourceForge, Inc. on January 5.

SourceForge, Inc. finally changes its name to Geeknet, Inc.

2010: Resignations of Top Employees

Geeknet President and CEO, Scott Kauffman resigns on August 4. Executive Chairman Kenneth Langone takes over the role.

The company changes its stock symbol from LNUX to GKNT.

Jason Baird, Chief Operations Officer and Michael Rudolph, Chief Marketing Officer resign together on August 10, effective in 3 weeks.

Jay Seirmarco, the Company’s Chief Technology Officer also resigns, effective September 30.

2011: New Member in Board of Directors

Geeknet appoints Matthew C. Blank, former CEO and Chairman of Showtime Networks as a member of its board of directors effective January 31.

The Freshmeat website gets renamed to Freecode on October 29. (URL still remains the same)

2012: ThinkGeek

ThinkGeek remains the sole property of Geeknet, as Slashdot, SourceForge, and Freecode are sold to Dice Holdings for $20 million in September.

2013: New CEO

Geeknet announces Kathryn McCarthy as President and Chief Executive Officer and Ali Sorbi as Chief Financial Officer on February 7.

2014: ThinkGeek and Geeknet

ThinkGeek Solutions joins Geeknet in August.

2015: Gamestop Acquisition

CEO Kathryn McCarthy shares her views on Q1 2015 Results on May 8.

On May 26, Pop culture-oriented retailer Hot Topic makes an offer to acquire Geeknet for $17.50 per share, valuing the company at $122 million. An unspecified company makes a counter-offer of $20 per share with a June 1 deadline to Hot Topic to exceed the same.

GameStop acquires Geeknet for $140 million on June 2 with the deal finally closing on July 17.

Written by

Music Lover, Nerdish Geek, Bike Lover, Linux Fan, GPU Computing Enthusiast, Doctoral Researcher, Passionate Gamer, Ubisoft Star Player​ 2016

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store