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dion almaer
ben galbraith

Talent Bleed At Palm Continues As Dev Leads Leave To Battle Closed Web "Dictatorships"

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Back in August, while we were in the middle of confirming an exodus of talent from Palm after their acquisition by HP, I specifically asked them about the status of two guys: Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer. Palm refused to say anything about them. Perhaps now we know why.

As both have confirmed on their personal blogs today, as well as the HP/Palm Dev Center blog, they’re leaving the company as well. This is a big blow to the Palm platform as the two lead the important developer relations team for the company. It was their jobs to get people excited and developing for webOS. Now that task falls to HP.

The two lasted barely a year at Palm. When they were hired last September, it was considered a big coup, as the two are hugely respected in the web development community thanks to their work with Mozilla, and well-known thanks to their involvement with the blog Ajaxian. And the company wasted little time getting them out there on the talking circuit to ramp up interest in webOS.

So why are they leaving? Almaer compares working for a big company to a wedding, and a small company as a first date. As he writes today, “I am not looking to dance down the aisle just yet, no matter how pretty the bride is ;)“. As such, he and Galbraith are starting their own new company. They aren’t sharing too much just yet beyond the fact that they’re interested in mobile, HTML5, JavaScript, and the idea of “open”.

Here’s a key blurb from Almaer’s post:

If you look at our history with mainframes, PCs, and gaming consoles, they have all be closed proprietary systems. As developers we have been beholden to the vendors. When we are both aligned, things can work out, but as soon as the company has a change in strategy and we misalign, developers are often left by the wayside. This mirrors the world of dictatorships. If you could guarantee your dictator is fully aligned with you there is a good chance that the system will be far more efficient than a democracy. History has taught us though that 99.9% of the time this isn’t the case. The Open Web gives us an escape valve. It has its own problems and complexities (just as democracy), but that is all critically worth it.

So who is left of the key Palm team? Pretty much none of the execs beyond CEO Jon Rubinstein. And a bunch of other key people have trickled out over the past few months as well.

Almaer and Galbraith will be consulting for HP as the works continues on webOS. But it’s pretty much a child being raised in a foster home at this point. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Let’s hope it’s the former in this case.

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