YaK:: WebLog #535 Topic : 2006-06-19 17.09.09 matt : investment in open source companies [Changes]   [Calendar]   [Search]   [Index]   [PhotoTags]   
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investment in open source companies

I read an article on VC investment in open source companies and posted a comment on the article I'm reproducing here.

The article, found via slashdot, is here: http://weblog.infoworld.com/ittroubleshooter/archives/2006/06/open_source_as.html

Here is my comment/reply to that article:

I agree with Andrew Aitken's [a previous commentor] assessment -- this problem is not unique to open source or service-based companies. There are nightmare stories about proprietary companies whose all-contractor workforce erased all the hard drives and backups after the CEO sold the company out from under them with no notice. Had that been an open source-based company, the IP would have been safe in plain sight.

I can undersand the perspective of the weary investor, though. One thing to make sure of is that there is a real community outside of the commercial entity housing the primary developers. How many unique commits to the source tree are there each quarter? How many of those are people with no contractual affiliation of the company? With a real community, there is a possibility that you can hire from that community if things get rough with the primary contributors.

Also, just because a contributor leaves the company doesn't mean they aren't working on the project at all. Sometimes a company environment becomes less appealing over time, or people need more flexibility due to serious personal/family issues, etc. With open source based companies, this doesn't necessarily mean the end of useful contribution as it does in proprietary software companies. A great example of this are some of the snort developers who left SourceFire but continued to contribute to Snort -- still providing value and benefit to Sourcefire, their customers, and their investors.


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