A new open-source company launched Tuesday with big–time backing and high-powered software bloodlines.
Seattle-based SourceLabs Inc. said it is focusing is on delivering "dependable open-source systems." It has secured $3.5 million in funding from Index Ventures, which has funded other successful open-source ventures, and Ignition Partners, which has funded several commercial software companies.
Ignitions participation signals both a growth in the acceptance of open-source software for enterprise use and the venture capitalists confidence in SourceLabs to deliver on its promise, said Byron Sebastian, CEO of SourceLabs.
The new company is led by several former BEA Systems Inc. executives. Sebastian was formerly vice president and general manager of the WebLogic Portal and Workshop divisions at BEA. SourceLabs chief architect, Will Pugh, was BEAs principal technologist working on the companys open-source strategy, and Cornelius Willis, SourceLabs vice president of sales and marketing, was previously vice president of developer marketing at BEA, where he led the companys efforts to open-source its Workshop framework under Project Beehive.
In addition, SourceLabs has hired Alex Bosworth as its first program manager. Alexs father, Adam—vice president of engineering at Google and also a former BEA bigwig—is an advisor to the company.
Sebastian and Adam Bosworth worked together at Crossgain, a startup co-founded by Bosworth and acquired by BEA. Bosworth, Pugh and Willis all left BEA earlier this year as part of an exodus of talent from the company.
Meanwhile, Danny Rimer, partner at Index Ventures, and Brad Silverberg, managing partner at Ignition Partners, have joined the SourceLabs board of directors. Silverberg, Willis and Adam Bosworth all previously worked at Microsoft.
Sebastian said he got the idea to start SourceLabs after talking to enterprise customers, open-source developers, ISVs and others about open-source software and the need for dependable systems.
"I wasnt thinking of forming a startup, but I talked to people and they shared their thoughts about open-source software and how they would use it more if they knew they could depend on it," Sebastian said. "I knew Brad through a mutual friend and I became an entrepreneur in residence at Ignition."
"Its interesting that this is the first open-source investment by Ignition," Willis said. Indeed, the venture capitalist has turned down many companies in the .Net world with proprietary strategies seeking its help.
Sebastian said the SourceLabs business model "is based on the insight and value in moving toward high-quality service and maintenance as opposed to software and software licenses. We focus on pre-integrated distribution of open-source systems and making subscriptions available to enterprise customers. We are interested in providing support and maintenance and even working with proprietary software as well."
Sebastian would not comment on what open-source technologies would comprise a typical pre-integrated SourceLabs system, nor would he comment on a specific time frame for availability.
However, he said, "Weve looked at languages like PHP, Perl and Python and technology like the MySQL database, and weve noticed they are driving millions of Web sites, but theyre not driving a whole lot of development in corporate America," because many enterprises do not totally trust the open-source model. Enterprise customers have had to either choose between "dependable but proprietary technology, or open technology with no company standing behind it," Sebastian said. "Were focused on delivering dependable open-source systems to customers."