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Google Buys Eclipse, Ajax/Java Provider Instantiations

Google has acquired Eclipse-based commercial software tools and services provider Instantiations for an undisclosed amount, the two companies announced this week.

Instantiations CEO Mike Taylor and Senior Vice President of Product Development Eric Clayberg announced the acquisition on the company Web site: "Yes it's true. Instantiations' award-winning Java and Ajax development tools and our incredible Eclipse team have been acquired by Google. We are all very excited about taking our technology and team to the next level--and there is no bigger step up than Google!"

In their announcement, Taylor and Clayberg sought to reassure Instantiations customers. Although new downloads of Instantiations products will be unavailable "while we make the transition," Taylor and Clayberg wrote, "our service continues uninterrupted for those who have support agreements in place."

Portland, OR-based Instantiations makes a popular Ajax/Java GUI builder, GWT Designer, which leverages the Google Web Toolkit (GWT). The GWT is Google's free, open-source development framework aimed at Web application builders who want to use the Asynchronous JavaScript and XML technique (Ajax) without having to learn JavaScript. Google has not provided its own GUI builder for GWT.

With most of the Instantiations staff included in this deal, Google is acquiring some much needed expertise, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "Google is in the platform business with Android and the Chrome OS, and in dire need of development tools and the people who know how to build them successfully," Enderle said. "This looks like they wanted to buy a team of folks who were already executing together in order to address the needs of their emerging platforms."

"It looks like Google was really going after the people," he continued. "The technology is nice, but if that's all they wanted they would be laying people off. It's a smart move; often, when you acquired a company, you spend a lot of time getting a bunch of employees who've never worked together focused on building things many of them have never built before. It's much easier to buy teams of people with specific expertise and then just putting them to work."

Early reaction to news of the acquisition from the Eclipse community appears to be positive. Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, commented on the acquisition on Twitter: “I am thrilled for the Instantiations team," he wrote. "The Google acquisition is great news for the Eclipse community as well.”

Instantiations was one of the founding members of the Eclipse Foundation, and Taylor has been one of its most prominent figures.

Taylor added that the Smalltalk side of the company will hold onto the Instantiations name and work to grow the Smalltalk business. The company Smalltalk product lineup includes VA Smalltalk, WidgetKit, and WindowBuilder Pro for Smalltalk.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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