Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy in 2009.
Photograph by Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Looks like Wayin's pivot to a social marketing company required a new CEO. Scott McNealy is now at the helm of the startup he founded.

By Barb Darrow
May 22, 2015

Scott McNealy, former CEO of Sun Microsystems, is chief executive once again. This time it’s of Wayin, a social media startup he founded five years ago, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Timing is unclear. Elaine Feeney was president and CEO of the Denver-based Wayin up until April, according to her LinkedIn profile, which shows she is now on sabbatical.

When it was founded, Wayin was supposed to be a social site where users could post questions, get answers, and vote on those answers. Sort of like Quora, although McNealy himself likened it to Pinterest. Unfortunately for Wayin, as McNealy told the Journal: “We tried to beat Pinterest and Pinterest won.”

Hence a strategic pivot. In its web site, Wayin now describes itself as a “social intelligence and visualization company that integrates social content into new experiences for consumers and delivers greater value and control for brands.”

In other words, it culls what people say about products and services on social services—Twitter TWTR , Facebook FB , and so forth—analyzes it, packages it up, and sells that info back to the maker of those products and services. Customers listed on Wayin’s web site include Best Buy BBY , Dunkin Donuts DNKN , and Adobe ADBE .

Wayin has about $33 million in venture funding from U.S. Venture Partners and law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati.

McNealy was one of five co-founders of Sun, a legendary tech giant which developed the workstations and servers favored for use by engineers and other techies, as well as the SPARC microprocessor and the Solaris operating system that ran them. Sun was also a key backer of the Java programming language.

Sun workstations were powerful but also pricey compared to less expensive Intel-based hardware running what was essentially a free operating system in Linux or Microsoft MSFT Windows. In 2009, Oracle ORCL ended up buying Sun for $7.4 billion and McNealy left pretty much immediately.

Long before the Internet, McNealy loved to say that the network is the computer. Pretty prescient—and a great marketing slogan, too. Maybe it’s fitting for him to run a marketing software company.

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