Founder Gassee leaves Be

Jean-Louis Gassee, founder and CEO of operating system company Be Inc., resigned Monday as the company winds up after being bought by handheld vendor Palm Inc. in August last year.

Dan Johnston, Be’s general counsel, will act as company president during the rest of Be’s dissolution process, Be said in a statement.

Also in the statement, Gassee said Be’s board of directors was considering whether filing an antitrust suit against Microsoft Corp. would be both viable and serve to maximize stockholder value.

Palm acquired Be in August for US$11 million and is currently integrating Be’s Internet appliance OS into its own product range at the Platform Solutions Group, an internal Palm division due to become a separate subsidiary soon.

Gassee founded Be in 1990 after a successful career at Apple Computer Inc. The first Be OS looked likely to be adopted in 1996 as the core of a new Macintosh operating system, but negotiations between Be and Apple eventually foundered. Steve Jobs, returning to run Apple, turned instead to a company called Next Inc. – which Jobs partially owned – to provide the core of a new Macintosh OS.

Despite receiving a $25 million investment in 1998 from Intel Corp. and others, Be never found mainstream commercial success, despite positioning itself as the best alternative OS for applications like audio/video creation and playback.

Palm, in Santa Clara, Calif., is at Be, in Menlo Park, Calif., can be contacted at