Ceylon aims at solving the following problems its developers experienced with Java:
The name "Ceylon" is an oblique reference to Java, in that Java and Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, are caffeine growing islands.
Gavin King leads the Ceylon project at Red Hat. Gavin is the creator of Hibernate, a popular object/relational persistence solution for Java, and the Seam Framework, an application framework for enterprise Java. He's contributed to the Java Community Process as JBoss and then Red Hat representative for the EJB and JPA specifications and as lead of the CDI specification.
Gavin now works full time on Ceylon, polishing the language specification, developing the compiler frontend, working on the IDE, and thinking about the SDK and future of the platform. He's still a fan of Java, and of other languages, especially Smalltalk, Python, and ML.
You can follow him on G+.