Where's the money in open source?

Asking about open source billionaires in 2008 is a bit like asking about manufacturing billionaires in, say, 1760. There's Matt Boulton and Josiah Wedgewood.

Matthew Boulton from Wikipedia
Our own open source executive, Matt Asay, asks today why he's not rich.

Maybe because you're wasting your time on journalism?

First rule of this profession, taught me by the late Prof. George Heitz at Northwestern three decades ago. "If you want to make a good living, get a spouse with a good job."

Anyhoo. The question is based on a Wired piece speculating on the coming wealth of open source barons. As though the only reason to write software is to cash out.

Fact is there are already plenty of open source billionaires, starting with the founders of Google and their "adult supervisor," Eric Schmidt. (Since he was previously called the "father of Java," and Java's now open source, maybe he counts twice.)

As multi-billion dollar companies move toward the open source paradigm, shouldn't their CEOs count too?

Of course, as Bernard Golden writes, this is the wrong question. Open source isn't just a business model or a development model, it's a paradigm shift. It's a product of the Internet.

Asking about open source billionaires in 2008 is a bit like asking about manufacturing billionaires in, say, 1760. There's Matt Boulton (above) and Josiah Wedgewood. No this mass production thing isn't what it's cracked up to be.

And, yes, the paradigm shift made possible by the Internet is that important. It has, in fact, just begun to take hold.