Subject: Re: Free *Network* Software Business?
From: "Ben Tilly" <btilly@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2008 18:15:54 -0800
Tue, 2 Dec 2008 18:15:54 -0800
On Tue, Dec 2, 2008 at 5:52 PM, Michael R. Bernstein <michael@fandomhome.com
> wrote:

>
> On Sun, 2008-11-30 at 11:42 -0700, Michael R. Bernstein wrote:
> >
> > Sorry for being somewhat coy at this stage, but can anyone suggest case
> > studies or existing business models that would be applicable for the
> > constraints I've laid out?
>
> Am I being *too* coy? I was hoping for some feedback by now...
>

My reason for not responding is that I don't see how you'd monetize a free
data format.

The most applicable business models would seem to be providing support and
training for your system, or else making money off of proprietary tools
built on top of your data format.  Without details I can't guess whether
either of those is viable.

Depending on what you're doing, other models may work.  For instance
Sleepycat built a pretty good business around offering a free product which
you had to pay to incorporate into proprietary products.  And for many years
Aladdin made money from Ghostscript by having a proprietary product that
they would open source old versions of.  Both of those models require that
you maintain ownership of the copyright though.

You also haven't said how difficult it will be to launch this project and
what size of company you're looking to build on it.  It is much easier to,
for instance, come up with a business model around a niche product that will
work for a personal consultancy than it is to come up with one that is
keeping a several hundred person enterprise going.

So the best that I can say is good luck.

Ben


On Tue, Dec 2, 2008 at 5:52 PM, Michael R. Bernstein <michael@fandomhome.com> wrote:

On Sun, 2008-11-30 at 11:42 -0700, Michael R. Bernstein wrote:
>
> Sorry for being somewhat coy at this stage, but can anyone suggest case
> studies or existing business models that would be applicable for the
> constraints I've laid out?

Am I being *too* coy? I was hoping for some feedback by now...

My reason for not responding is that I don't see how you'd monetize a free data format.

The most applicable business models would seem to be providing support and training for your system, or else making money off of proprietary tools built on top of your data format.  Without details I can't guess whether either of those is viable.

Depending on what you're doing, other models may work.  For instance Sleepycat built a pretty good business around offering a free product which you had to pay to incorporate into proprietary products.  And for many years Aladdin made money from Ghostscript by having a proprietary product that they would open source old versions of.  Both of those models require that you maintain ownership of the copyright though.

You also haven't said how difficult it will be to launch this project and what size of company you're looking to build on it.  It is much easier to, for instance, come up with a business model around a niche product that will work for a personal consultancy than it is to come up with one that is keeping a several hundred person enterprise going.

So the best that I can say is good luck.

Ben