In a large round of layoffs on May 4th, Novell let go of the 30-person team that was working on Mono, the open-source implementation of Microsoft’s .NET development framework. Just 12 days later, Mono’s founder and lead developer Miguel de Icaza announced the launch of Xamarin, a new startup that bills itself “the new home of the engineers that created Mono.”
Xamarin purportedly has an undisclosed amount of angel funding for its launch and is currently looking for more investment. The company’s main focus will be on building new commercial .NET offerings for iOS and Android.
According to de Icaza, being axed from Novell was a blessing in disguise. He explained the situation in a post on his personal blog:
“We have been trying to spin Mono off from Novell for more than a year now. Everyone agreed that Mono would have a brighter future as an independent company, so a plan was prepared last year.
To make a long story short, the plan to spin off was not executed. Instead on Monday May 2nd, the Canadian and American teams were laid off; Europe, Brazil and Japan followed a few days later. These layoffs included all the MonoTouch and MonoDroid engineers and other key Mono developers.
…We were clearly bummed out by this development, and had no desire to quit, especially with all the great progress in this last year. So… we hatched a plan.”
Xamarin’s debut is notable in itself: Many open source developers will surely be heartened that Mono, which was met with both cheers and skepticism at its launch in 2004, could indeed have a life after Novell. But it’s also interesting as a larger sign of how, thanks to a host of factors from cloud computing to telecommuting, the barriers to launching a startup have significantly lowered in recent years. It took just 12 days for de Icaza to turn a layoff into a launch, and it will be interesting to watch how the company grows in the weeks and months ahead.