Subject: Re: My ears are red (was Re: the walls have ears)
From: "Karsten M. Self" <kmself@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Tue, 08 Jun 1999 18:05:16 +0000

Paul Rohr wrote:
> 
> At 07:16 AM 6/3/99 +0000, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> >Welcome aboard, Paul.  I met a few of you (most memorably Eric) at
> >LinuxWorld Expo and the O'Reilly Open Source Developer's Day last fall
> >-- great shirts <g>.
> 
> Thanks.  It took two shows, but an fsb member by the name of Bob Young
> finally convinced us to stop giving them away and start selling them.  Tell
> all your friends and neighbors to buy them, so we don't prove him wrong.
> :-)

What's your T-Shirt URL?

> >Thinking about your business plan, another thought would be to align
> >yourself with a group or groups for whom an office suite would be icing,
> >gloss, or an avenue for further business opportunities of their own.
> >These might include HW vendors (Compaq, Dell, Gateway, VA Research,
> >Penguin Computing), service companies (IBM, Oracle, SAS, EDS), or user
> >groups (say, a business alliance).  The arrangement could involve a bit
> >of enlightened self interest on the part of the sponsor, or might be
> >based on more tightly coupled arrangements ($XXX,XXX,XXX for X,XXX
> >delivered service contracts, say).
> 
> Closing those kinds of deals works the best when we've already made great
> inroads on developing our own products, brand, and user base.  Getting them
> to divert some of their cashflow to us any earlier isn't easy.

You've got a presence already.  Might not hurt to talk with Augustin,
Young, O'Reilly, and co.  Handling rejection is a good skill to have
anyway.
 
> If you know of any ways to do so, send me mail privately.  ;-)

Well, I know a lawyer with an outfit in Florida who might be looking for
a docketing app.  It's an outgrowth of a scheduling/asset management
system.  You'd want to wait until you've played with scheduling systems
a bit.  I can drop you more info if you'd like.

Look at how companies like WP (WordPerfect) grew initially.  IIRC, a
Utah city government word processing solution, initially.  PHAMIS is the
Public Health Administration Medical Information System (now based out
of Seattle).  Today's market is different in that there is a clearly
established standard (MS Word) and some highly competitive alternatives
(WP, AmiPro (? Still around ?), vim,...)
 
> >Yet another tie could be marketing proprietary tie-ins to the base
> >product -- say in the same way that Avery lables essentially has a
> >franchise with some MS Office products.  I'd have to think about where
> >this is going, but essentially you'd be allowing modular extensions to
> >the base app, and managing to take a cut of what's received for these
> >extensions (licensing arrangement?) or securing funding for providing
> >the base.  Talk to your money men about it.
> 
> I don't think I understand this suggestion, particularly the notion of
> proprietary modular extensions.  We're a GPL product.  Are you asking us to
> try to outsmart Richard?  That's always an expensive decision, PR-wise, for
> any Open Source company.  Insofar as a decent portion of our brand image,
> like Red Hat's, is that the software we sell *is* GPL, it seems foolish.

Think Ghostscript/Ghostview.  Idea is to initially fund development of a
high-ticket or high-value item as proprietary, closed software.  If
these were stand-alone modules (e.g.:  no linking with the base product
in memory or on disk, all interfaces through defined APIs, similar to
perl modules, perhaps), then the GPL issues shouldn't apply.  GPL,
AFAIU, is based on copyright and creation of derivative works.  So long
as software doesn't "create a derivative work" -- e.g.: you're not
combining two code bases -- then you should be within the law.  I had a
discussion on this last year in news:misc.int-property and
news:gnu.misc.discuss, trying to establish just when linking does and
doesn't occur.

That's the legal side.  The marketing/business concept is what I like to
call "DPL" -- delayed public licensing.  The idea is to market the
product as proprietary for a time (a year, maybe more, maybe less), then
re-license it under a public license.    There's some discussion of this
at the following URLs:

http://forums.infoworld.com/threads/get.cgi?70918
http://forums.infoworld.com/threads/get.cgi?71565

It's essentially a twist on the idea of versioning software.  Hal Varian
and Carl Shapiro discuss the topic extensively in "Information Rules"
(http://www.inforules.com/), highly recommended book.

Think about this in terms of Kai's Photo Soap for Photoshop, wizards for
Excel, or possible proprietary plug-ins for the Gimp.

> If you're talking about a cobranding deal with Avery -- where they fund the

You've got the general drift on this.  Time to brainstorm for more
ideas.

-- 
Karsten M. Self (kmself@ix.netcom.com)

    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    Welchen Teil von "Gestalt" verstehen Sie nicht?

web:       http://www.netcom.com/~kmself
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