AWS Hires 'Father of Java' James Gosling

In a hiring coup, Amazon Web Services (AWS) this week welcomed James Gosling to its ranks as a Distinguished Engineer.

Gosling announced his move to AWS in a public Facebook post on Monday morning. "It's time for a change," Gosling wrote. "I'm leaving Boeing Defense (née Liquid Robotics), with many fond memories. Today I start a new Adventure at Amazon Web Services." CTO Werner Vogels also Tweeted a welcome message to Gosling, but did not provide any details about what the hire entails. Gosling's recently updated LinkedIn profile simply describes his new job as "wandering around at Amazon Web Services."

Gosling, who was unavailable for comment as of this writing, has had a lively career since Oracle acquired his longtime employer, Sun Microsystems, back in 2010. The former Sun Fellow signed on briefly as CTO of Oracle's client software group, but left the company later that year for a short stint at Google.

In 2011 he landed at Liquid Robots, a maker of "autonomous, ocean going platforms" that was acquired by Boeing last year.

In 2014, Gosling joined the platform development advisory team of Java/PHP Platform-as-a-Service provider Jelastic.

Gosling, who is credited with inventing the Java programming language in 1994, was one of the highest-profile former Sun employees to leave Oracle following the $7.5 billion acquisition. CEO Jonathan Schwartz, chairman and co-founder Scott McNealy, director of Web technologies Tim Bray, and open source evangelist Simon Phipps never made the transition.

One Java watcher, when asked about Gosling's latest career move, expressed what seems to be a common opinion: "Guys like Gosling will stay at a place only so long as they're able to do 'their work' (whatever that work is at the moment). When they start running into barriers -- orgs, funding, culture, etc. -- they find more welcoming venues and carry on."

Another one put it this way: "The guy is semi-retired and jumping from one interesting thing to another."

From the company's point of view, Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady suggested, hiring Gosling could be about courting enterprise Java customers, leveraging his IoT expertise from Liquid Robotics, or just giving him room to experiment.

"Whatever the reality," he said in an e-mail, "it's an interesting and high-profile hire for AWS, one that will have PR benefits beyond whatever he can contribute technically."

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


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