Since I’m one of few people with experience working in both Ruby and Salesforce/Force.com/APEX and with a working knowledge of various PaaS (platform-as-service) offerings and long time YCombinator junky, here are my brief thoughts on who wins here and why:
Heroku — biggest exit from the YCombinator group to date by a significant margin and chance to take Ruby to the next level.
Salesforce — this is a bit complicated since the problem here is integration and actually developing an attractive development platform which can deliver on the promise of PaaS and SaaS. Salesforce’s developer outreach is intense but often runs up conflicts with their underlying architecture, which has warts (see my post here on the advantages and disadvantages of the platform as it currently exists). This could make it fun to code on the Force.com platform which would be a huge win for developers and Salesforce alike.
YCombinator & co. — YCombinator hits the big leagues here but it is hard to see how this acquisition will be perceived a few years out, which largely depends on Heroku employees staying on and effectively building an enterprise platform for Ruby — and Rubyists everywhere seeing this as a good thing and leaving the 37 Signals anti- large company bandwagon. YCombinator and especially Paul Graham also have a significant anti- large company bent, leaving Yahoo after they converted what become Yahoo Stores into “blub” instead of a super language and has written on how large companies stifle innovation. One suspects Conde Nast is not entirely happy with their pricey Reddit acquisition from a couple years ago and this will be a challenge to show that one can strike a balance between small team innovation and big company needs (e.g. integration is king).
Ruby — By far the biggest winner here is Ruby the language which has struggled for a long time with the association anti-enterprise atmosphere of the Rails community. As frequently noted on Hacker News threads there are still lots of problems with Ruby libraries that don’t exist in their Java peers necessitating but this will be eased with larger scale adoption and (hopefully) less coverage of DHH’s loud talking.
Apex — Apex, the Java-derived platform language of Salesforce will be around in perpetuity, or so I have been assured by my Jedi master, also lead Developer Evangelist for Salesforce (tweet here).
The Cloud — Probably will turn out for the best, but there will be a lot of technical challenges in the implementation and I’m sticking with “wait and see” for now.
Engine Yard — Should raise their valuation but could also leave them in the dust.
Java — Oracle has done what it can to drive people away from the Java world which is kind of sad but great for the Ruby world, which looks like it could absorb a lot of the enterprise Java talent, esp. if there was a Cloud platform that provided performance at a decent price without the typical hassle of Java deployment.
Oracle — All the Oracle customers and contractors I know don’t like working with them and think that their products are overpriced, etc. Moreover, they’ve driven a huge wedge between themselves and the world wide developer community with their latest pattern of litigation which is, frankly, ridiculous. I’d plan to abandon ship now.
Google App Engine — Latest buzz from folk attempting to use it for significant business purposes is that it just doesn’t work the way they need it to, with all sorts of limitations on par with the Salesforce ones and yet without many of the benefits. Will need a major boost from Google to keep up with Benioff and Salesforce’s movin’ and groovin’
Microsoft — Not sure what they are doing any more. I think it is safe to ignore them.
Joel Dietz, Titania, Inc.