Subject: Re: Nessus 3.0's failed community
From: Federico Lucifredi <flucifredi@acm.org>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 15:15:09 -0500

On Wed, 2005-11-30 at 11:23 -0800, Ian Lance Taylor wrote:
> Federico Lucifredi <flucifredi@acm.org> writes:
> 
> > it looks like, even when you have a large market, the margins you make
> > *per customer* are considerably lower than a proprietary vendor make,
> > and with the added burden to have to support so many more customers with
> > lower per-customer revenues to show for it. 
> 
> It seems to me that a free software vendor can make the same margin
> per customer as a proprietary software vendor.  The difference is that
> there may be many other people, not customers, using the free
> software, but there will be very few other people using the
> proprietary software.
> 
> Free software vendors should not and do not support people who are not
> customers.  It's essential to make those other users into a strength
> rather than a weakness.  
[..]

Not to put too fine a point on it, but my presumption is that a F/OSS
vendor will have lower per-customer margins. under that assumption 

>>it looks like, even when you have a large market, the margins you make
>>*per customer* are considerably lower than a proprietary vendor make,
>>and with the added burden to have to support so many more customers

This says nothing of the "free" users -- only paying customers, with
per-capita lower margins.

Are there any numbers on profit margins *per seat* of a F/OSS vendor
compared to a proprietary vendor ? I would be curious to see...

>How many billion-plus cap pure software companies are there?

not sure. But no pure F/OSS vendor is in there. Novell, as a hybrid,
barely makes it. And I think that there are... actually, let me
look..... 

Activision Inc - 3.5 bln
Adobe Systems Incorporated - 16 bln
Autodesk Inc - 9 bln
BMC Software Inc - 4.4 bln
Check Point Software - 5.5 bln
Checkfree Corp - 4.2 bln
Citrix - 4.7 bln
Computer Associates - 16 bln

...and another 15
(http://money.cnn.com/data/sectors/Technology__Software/)

so, the fact that no FOSS vendor can make the cap cut I set seems *very*
relevant to me. But I still want to see per-seat(or per-box) revenue
figures. And, yes, these vendors are also selling support services.

 -federico