Subject: Re: The merger: a user's perspective
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <tim@oreilly.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 20:09:37 -0800

Bravo, Bob!  Anyone who has run a successful business understands the
principle that Bob has laid out here.  Unfortunately, a lot of people
who haven't done that are still willing to comment.

Socrates did a great job of dissecting this practice (at least as
reported by Plato) in one of his dialogues.  I don't remember the exact
reference, but he was talking about how you choose a doctor or a
craftsman.  Do you choose someone who has done it, or someone who just
talks about it?

Like anything else, a business can be misused.  But businesses can also
be incredibly powerful tools for doing good.  I like to think that the
Ben & Jerry's slogan:  "doing well by doing good" can apply here as
well.

The leaders at both Cygnus and Red Hat are creative, principled folks. 
I remain optimistic that, as Bob says, the merger will let them do a
better job of serving their customers, and indirectly, anyone who cares
about the use of free software.

Bob Young wrote:
> 
> >
> >    In the end, mergers are all about money, and I always had hoped that money
> >    in our community took a back seat to helping people.  I guess in the case of
> >    Red Hat and Cygnus, I was mistaken.
> >
> > Yes, you were.  Red Hat and Cygnus, the corporations, were created to
> > make money, not to help people.  Both corporations do indeed help
> > people, but that is a path to the goal; it is not the goal itself.
> 
> I have not been very active on this list as it seems to have changed
> from one discussing how to create businesses and business models based
> on the benefits of building software under Free Software or Open
> Source methods, to one that discusses the philosophies driving those
> development models.  Not that this is a bad thing, just outside my
> area of expertise.
> 
> But I could not let the above comment pass.
> 
> Successful businesses are -not- about making money, believe it or not.
> 
> Successful business are about serving customers, ie about helping
> people.  If you do a better job helping people than your competitors
> then you will be successful.  If your competitors (in our case
> proprietary software developers) do a better job helping people
> than we do then we will not be successful.
> 
> Profits, or the lack of them, just tell you how you did - they are an
> indication that you did in fact help enough people in a useful enough
> way that your customers were willing to pay you for your help.  These
> payments provide a profit to your shareholders - the folks who provided
> the resources to enable you to help your customers in the first place.
> 
> Merging Red Hat with Cygnus was not about profits.  It was about
> maximizing our respective organizations ability to serve our
> customers so that these customers would find our services equal to or
> greater than those provided by our proprietary software competitors.
> 
> Cheers,    Bob.
> 
> Red Hat, Inc.------------------------------------------------
> Phone 919-547-0012 x227                 Fax   919-547-0027
> P.O. Box 13588                          email: bob@redhat.com
> Research Triangle Park, NC 27709        http://www.redhat.com

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Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
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