Subject: Re: open source definition
From: peterd@Bunyip.Com (Peter Deutsch)
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 1998 15:39:10 -0400

[ You wrote: ]
.  .  .
> >From a strictly business perspective, there are two ways I could look
> at this.
.  .  .
> In the context of this discussion, though, I think Bunyip's situation
> is not relevant to the intent of the question.  Your investors are
> paying for a large bundle of stuff.  Some (I infer small) fraction of
> that is being given away as a loss leader.  This is very different
> from the investor investing in a product that will be given away as a
> whole.

Actually, no the coding work is not a small fraction of
the plan. We're still debating the final percentage of the
code to be released, but the decision will be based upon
the parts we think provide true-value added. 

> Investors are willing to accept some threshold of distracting
> activity.  They are actively delighted to see sensible marketing
> strategies.  Don't confuse yourself into thinking they invested in the
> free stuff; they invested *in spite of* the free stuff.

Actually, the part they liked was how it addressed the
skillset shortage, which is seen as one of the major
impediments to growth (certainly in Canada) right now. It
was definitely not "in spite of". I did have to assure
them that I thought it was okay to have some proprietary
material, and that would be focused in areas of high
value-added, but I used Netscape as an example. Browsers
started free, Netscape generated O($100M)/year for a
couple of years, Netscape releases source. It's a software
lifecycle model they could identify with. Personally, I
like to think of parallel activity with synergy between
free and retrained, which I think will fly like a lead
ballon with most people on this list, but as I said before
we don't "do fre software". Free software is part of
business strategy toolkit.

And BTW, I don't see this as a marketing ploy, since we do
have alternative plans to generate revenue from that code
base, including "certified versions", bundling with
proprietary code, etc. We just plan to have a free
version, as well.

Final thought - people have asked on this list for viable
models for free software development, but seem to actually
want to be told the pure model can and does work. I'm
offering a testimonial that using it in a mixed strategy
works (at least up to the investment stage). In addition,
we've always offered "something back" although in the past
it's been more support for the IETF, ISOC, etc. So it's
not pure software altruism. It's worked for us for over
six years...

					- peterd

     Peter Deutsch,                                   (514) 875-8611  (phone)
  Bunyip Information Systems Inc.                     (514) 875-8134  (fax)

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