Investing in Open Source

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2005-10-03 Print this article Print

Meanwhile, open source is drawing a lot of attention from venture capitalists. Earlier this year, Brad Silverberg, a founder of Ignition Partners and former Microsoft executive, said his firm is more likely to invest in open source than in .Net-based startups.
Danny Rimer, a partner at Index Ventures, agreed.
"I have a very similar view to Brads," Rimer said. "Basically, any company we look at has to have a very good explanation as to why the cheapest, most scalable alternative, namely the LAMP stack, is not what theyre building their application on." And at TheServerSide Java Symposium in Las Vegas earlier this year, Peter Fenton, a partner with Accel Partners, said, "In middleware, if youre not open source, youd have to come up with a good reason youre not." Read more here about JBoss new versions of key products delivering support for the Enterprise JavaBeans 3.0 specification. Fenton urged Accel to invest in JBoss, he said. Yet, as JBoss faces perhaps its stiffest test to date, many say the task of taking it on is daunting. "JBoss has done a phenomenal job of quilting together the J2EE [Java 2 Enterprise Edition] stack," said Larry Augustin, CEO of MedSphere, an open-source health care solution vendor, JBoss board member and founder of VA Software. To read more about JBoss expanding its relationship with Novell, click here. "They have a great set of features and great support. Im not sure another open-source project could make a difference. There is no benefit to moving to Geronimo," the open-source application server Gluecode supports. Fleury says the same. "How the hell are they going to encroach on us?" he asks. "With what? With free?... Why would somebody change from free to free?" SugarCRMs Roberts said: "JBoss still has a lot of clout, and thats not going away overnight, provided they keep writing innovative software and they keep empowering that community and people agree with the product direction, itll be very difficult to unseat them. Well see." Andy Astor, CEO of EnterpriseDB, said he believes there are lots of ways to be successful as an open-source company, including going public and merging with a larger company, "but our goal is to be a major open-source company." Mark Tolliver, CEO of Palamida, said he doesnt see a lot of difference between the opportunities open-source start-ups have and those of traditional software start-ups. "Its not that different from other venture-funded companies," he said. Scott Dietzen, CTO of open-source Zimbra, agreed. "Just because youre open source doesnt mean you play by any different set of rules." However, for its part, IBMs onslaught in the low-end application server space caused Fleury to wake up. "All of a sudden IBM woke me up, and now Im going back to sleep," he said. But at the initial news of the Gluecode acquisition, Fleury said he called a "summer freeze" to allow all of his developers to take a breath from the "confusion," he said. "Thats when I said, Stop it, everybody," Fleury said. "Everybody take 48 hours, a four-day weekend. Im French; I understand taking Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday, and I called it a summer freeze. "I told people to stop freaking about it, were not going to do anything. I put a veto on reaction. We dont react. I said my call to action is inaction. I said, Everybody chill, everybody go on a holiday, and in September it will be a new war." Its now October, and the war rages on. JBoss last week announced an interoperability partnership with Microsoft to make its middleware run better on Windows. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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