That whole "Freedom" thing pays

Hot on the heels of the news (here, here) that Mozilla banked 72m USD, Christopher Blizzard responds that it’s not accurate, but not that far off.

I say… good for them

Even Matt Asay (proponent of ‘fringe, on the cusp open source business models’) blogs Interesting, the return that freedom can bring..

To put that in perspective, I bet that surpasses the annual revenue for JBoss, MySql, SugarCRM, Alfresco, Zimbra, Suse Linux revenues etc. The only open source play I don’t think it tops is Red Hat. I’d love comments on this if you think my guesses are incorrect (all private companies so no way to know for sure).

I think my good friend Russ at Nanoblog might be on to something… The potential is the Crop NOT the Carrot.

One thought on “That whole "Freedom" thing pays

  1. rdanner

    There is so much yip yap in the open source world about what open source is or isn’t.

    Open source is IP in the public domain?

    Great! I can deal with that. But what makes good open source?

    IP in the public domain
    Strong community
    Strong support
    Diverse committers
    Diverse inventors

    If you are not good open source you will just gather cob webs like the many projects on source forge.

    If you are selling your software that is not in the public domain, it is called shareware. And that’s great… but its not Open Source. Because it’s not OPEN.

    Business only cares about value. If the cannot exploit open source to make money and save money then they don’t care about open source. Making money is what business is about (in general).

    I have NO problem with companies that want to make money by exploiting open source. For example they may build a product on top of open source and sell it… great! They may build a product and open source half of it…. great!

    What’s the big deal? There is none. Even the company that throws its code up on source forge isn’t hurting anyone. Don’t lie about the vitality of your community or the level or the diversity of you committers and I am happy. No one is hurt by code sitting on source forge, and someone might find it useful.

    My belief is that companies that really want to make a move are staring an opportunity in the face and should leverage it to the fullest. I think there is a way for the company to do more with less and for the community to get win as well!

    Using a mixed model doesn’t do it for me personally. (I am pro choice [open source] publicly but I am [pure play] personally).

    I see the mixed model as a model which generally bothers the OS community. For that reason alone I would shy away from it. I think there is more money to be made leveraging people and community then there is through hording and selling IP.

    If you not are familiar with the carrot and crop analogy, let me explain. To get a donkey to go where it is you want it to go, you can either entice it in that direction (lure it) with the carrot, or you can direct it with the crop.

    The mixed model is generally a model which attempts to use OS as a carrot to lure revenue.

    Some companies have been able to use OS as a crop driving industry, standards, influence and adoption in order to make money.

    I assert that OS businesses can make more money by giving up IP and leveraging the community then they can through selling some IP on top of a community product.

    Websphere costs a ton of money. Eclipse, the core development environment of Websphere costs nothing.

    Eclipse is all about community right down to its architecture. It’s a workbench. That is to say even the software itself supports the inventor.

    The community is building out eclipse, making wonderful tools and it’s all adding value to IBM’s big bank projects like services and Websphere.

    IBM realizes that WSIF and Eclipse are not central to making money through sales. They are essential to making money through supporting other completely independent, unrelated products that make big bucks through sales. All the mean while they are leveraging the community to support and enhance their infrastructure; reducing risk and cost to themselves. Good for you and good for me. Because they give so much they enjoy an enormous amount of influence in standards committees / JCP etc… Works out well for them. They protect their investments and (with the crop not the carrot) control their destiny.


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