A great time to start an open source company

A great time to start an open source company

Summary: The alternatives to Maven cost millions of dollars, and it's already used by companies with up to 1,500 developers, in multiple locations, juggling 15 projects at once. You can't do that with a spreadsheet.

TOPICS: CXO, Open Source

Sonatype bannerThink of a redwood forest after the fire.

Great time to be a seed. Or imagine being an alligator after the peat in your swamp is burned out. Life is good.

In that same way, now may be the best time to launch an open source company. Especially if, as in the case of Mark deVisser, CEO of Sonatype, you have a technology with a ready market and competition that is easy to fend off.

Apache Maven is the project Sonatype is commercializing. Maven is a project management tool that is already strong in many enterprises, with 70,000 binary files for use with Spring, AJAX and other things.

It's a great fit for customers, and a great fit for the times.

"We're going beta with our professional version next week, and we've got 20 significant clients signed up who have seen that. We're getting ready to do an Eclipse plug-in. There's a lot of interest in that. And we have 7 more products lined up."

Now is just the right time to launch this open source project into the commercial world because it can save enterprises money in project management, and the hard times let deVisser start with the project's chief committers on-board.

"You have to have committers and you have to have product," he said.  It also helps if that product is popular. The Maven database was linked to 250 million times in September alone.

"I have 20 of the world's best engineers on my payroll. They are now working full time to make Maven a better ecosystem.

"Open source projects are strengthened with a commercial company behind them. And for a large corporation, they want to know the vibrancy of your ecosystem and what committers you have on board.

"If you have the right names they are happy to sign contracts."

Notice that deVisser didn't brag on his salesforce. In fact, he has hired just one salesperson, someone who knows how to send out invoices. "They were productive within a week."

Maybe this is a unique opportunity. The alternatives to Maven cost millions of dollars, and it's already used by companies with up to 1,500 developers, in multiple locations, juggling 15 projects at once. You can't do that with a spreadsheet.

"There are dynamics to Maven that make further growth likely," he admitted.

"It's a model for describing projects. It's a language. And it's in the interest of the people who speak that language to get others using it." It's a professional tool, and building professionalism around a community of professionals is simple logic.

So maybe this isn't the best time to be launching a company, unless you're an alligator or a redwood seed. But when disaster strikes the business forest it opens up new niches.

That's an important lesson to remember at times like this.


Topics: CXO, Open Source

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  • Uh, who said you can't make money from Open Source?

    Linux User 147560
    • If you do, Ballmer wants it ...

      ... he calls it, what was it, .... "An off balance sheet liability" LOL.

      Death to Microsoft.

    I love how that can be called "FREE".

    what a joke, and another typical FOSS "bait and switch" scam...
    • Free has never been free in that sense

      I think you missed something. The fathers of open source always quote the "not free, as in free beer, but as in free speech". This says all. Free is not about money, it is about legal rights to learn, modify and distributet the very essence of software, teh source code. Noone at OSI told anyone that it can not be sold...or that you can not sell services for supporting, installing, training whatever.

      As a business owner, I believe strongly in open source as a business, but in a "best of both worlds" way. Those who do not wish or can not pay, shall use the community edition, for free, but get support only fromthe community. Thos who have no time, or earn money with the software, will be willing to pay for servcies and legal protection.

      I have just blogged about this on http://blog.sensenet.hu
  • FOSS has become all about $$$$

    Take Zimbra for instance, I've been using it for almost 2 years. Now they will no longer support Open SuSE for their next version. Their reasoning is they haven't had enough downloads for that distro and it costs too much to keep supporting it.

    FOSS is their for debugging. It's there for exposure. It's there for bragging rights. It's there for every other reason except the true spirit of FOSS. And once a company becomes owned by a publicly traded entity it gets worse. Now they have to answer to shareholders and certainly cannot do anything that doesn't bolster the stock values.

    These companies would not be here if it were not for the underpinning of true FOSS code like Postfix, Apache, AJAX... etc. But they will sure take that FOSS spirit and walk all over it to make a buck.

    I have three FOSS solutions that haven't ended up costing me more than proprietary in the long run -Open SuSE, Squid and Apache. I'm not dealing with FOSS anymore. After years I have concluded that proprietary is less costly do to dependability and efficiency. I am no longer going to bet my IT's future on something so flaky as FOSS.
    • Dear bjbrock

      farewell and I hope your affection for MS products brings you joy .

      I continue to use Linux for pleasure and a feeling of freedom , liberty and all that sort of thing.
  • vibrancy of your ecosystem?

    This guy is an idiot!
  • .

  • "This is finally our year!"

    Time for another round of emperor's new cloth show, I guess.
    • Yep, more people are donning their magic Linux glasses each day

      so they can see that "the Emperor (Jay-bird naked Microsoft) has no clothes". Microsoft has been hiding behind smoke and mirrors all these many years, just blowing smoke. They huffed and they puffed, and they blew many a house in, but now they have run out of steam.
      Ole Man