Subject: Re: The merger: a user's perspective
From: Ben_Tilly@trepp.com
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 18:55:23 -0500


Bradley Kuhn wrote:
> Tim O'Reilly wrote:
> > 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.
>
> Do you mean here that those of us who have never started our own company
> have no authority whatsoever which to comment?

Not quite.  He said, "...run a successful business.."

To have done that you have to have demonstrated understanding.

> By this argument, my telling my younger brother he should never try heroin
> isn't valid, since I've never done it and don't have any authority to
> comment.

Poor analogy but I will run with it.  As a bystander you can comment that
he shouldn't try it.  But if he decides to try it anyways, you are unlikely
to have good advice on how to successfully aquire and use heroin.  Bob
Young's advice is about how to run a successful company.  Of course a
successful company is about making money, preferably hand over fist.  But
think about it that way and it won't necessarily happen...

> > 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.
>
> I sure hope it does.  It just seems to me too early for us to see the
> precious few companies that have any (even partial) corporate dedication to
> freedom merging right now.

<joke>
Tim is just hoping to be next on Red Hat's shopping spree.
</joke>

:-)

More companies have been springing up like weeds.  With the spectre of
mainstream software companies invading the OSS niche, some consolidation is
no surprise.  It has been happening on the hardware side and nobody
blinked...

> I saw I quote in the CNet article (linked from slashdot) that seemed to
> indicate that there *might* be lay-offs (it didn't say for sure either way,
> but the hint seemed there).  There are precious few free software jobs
> already.  I realize that if Cygnus were in financial trouble, an acquisition
> and a partial cut-back would make sense, but my impression was that Cygnus
> was *not* in such a stance.  Was it?

Red Hat is growing sufficiently quickly that I doubt they would want to lose *any* coders.
 Or has their core business slowed down from 100%
growth/year?  A supply of people who already understand free software has to fit even
better with Red Hat.

> > 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.
>
> For the sake of our community, I hope you are right, and I am simply being
> overly paranoid.  Only time will tell for sure.

My issue is not that they will be deliberately bad.  (At least not in the
short-term.)  It is that Red Hat's traditional focus has not been in areas
where QA matters, and I am afraid that this culture will affect areas where
poor QA could really hurt the community.  Also there is a danger that the
merged company will be too narrowly focussed on Linux.  Tim is optimistic
on both counts.  I would describe myself as tenatively optimistic, but I
would definitely like to see public statements from Red Hat explicitly
addressing both concerns.

Cheers,
Ben